July 15th. Marked in red on the calendar. I’ll be sitting in the theater impatiently waiting through 20 minutes of previews before watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. It will visually fulfill the images in my imagination and reinforce my opinion of the series.
I’ve read the books. Twice. I own the movies. And, I’m a Christian. How can that be, you ask? Because I realize the “magic” in Harry Potter is fantasy…just like the magical elements in The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe by the beloved CS Lewis, and Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. Why are the Narnia Chronicles revered with its magic and symbolism while Harry Potter is reviled in some circles? Why do some not bat an eye at The Wizard of Oz, any and all Disney-fide fairy tales, or movies like The Secret Garden and Little Princess? Technically, all deal with “occult” themes. To me, there is an ocean of difference between fantasy and the occult. I do not find anything in the books encouraging demonic practices. Clearly, most people aspire to be like the good characters, not the evil ones. The fantastic things that happen at Hogwarts are no more real than the things that happen in Narnia or Middle Earth…or Oz. It’s fantasy and pure imagination. And imagination is the heart of creativity.
Fantasy is paramount to a child’s imagination; and magic is part of that. Too many Christians misunderstand the magic in these stories only serves as the means to expose the frailty of the human condition. Weak versus powerful; greed versus sacrifice; friendship versus relationship abuse; good versus evil; repentance versus pride. Many people misuse the purpose of the book for their own agendas and completely miss the central message.
For me, the series of Harry Potter is the embodiment of sacrificial love. And for those that know Scripture, there are two biblical references interwoven throughout the characters and events. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26) and “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21). Coincidence? Personally, I don’t think so.
From Lily’s sacrificial love protecting her son by her death, to Harry’s “death” to save his friends, the theme is prevalent. Even Professor Snape displays this trait in more than one way in the end. The story pits the quest for greed, power and earthly treasures against sacrifice, love and the well being of others ahead of personal gain. Over an over, the story shows how ambition to succeed at any cost is ultimate ruin. By Dumbledore’s own admission, pride, vanity, greed and obsession can destroy a person’s soul. In the end, Harry gives up his quest to possess the Hallows and their power to, instead, lay down his life for his friends.
There are many reflections in the series to the central values of Christianity; truth, loyalty, service, care for those weaker, and sacrificial love. These values are threaded throughout the series. Harry, Sirius, Dumbledore, Serverus, Lily and Dobby all display Christian values and self-sacrificing traits to help and protect those they love. I think the parallels in these books to the Gospel story is inspiring.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).