It’s ok if you’re late to the Harry Potter party. It’s been 20+ years since the debut (omg, we’re that old) and as a high school junior I had little time or interest in the hype and hysteria that came with it. Not to mention many Christian circles (still) actively opposing the magic and “witchcraft.”(wrote an answer to that here.)
It wasn’t until this year when my kids’ school sent a letter urging parents to be alert for trends and hypes, particularly where magic or superpowers were involved, that something in me started to rumble.
In defense, my kids’ school identifies as “Christian” so we knew ghoulish or horror stuff would be lacking, but the letter expressly called out Elsa and Superman. (I wrote “Busting Religion: Why I Let My Kids Play With Ninjago, Elsa, Batman...” in the aftermath).
But it was during a visit to the city library, with rebellion in my bones against the “can’t do this, can’t read that, can’t watch this…” that is religion, that my eyes glimpsed Harry Potter gleaming on a binding, and something happened.
I don’t care. I’m reading this “witchcraft” book and if I like it, and it’s good for the kids I’m sharing with them too!
Book 3, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” Floored. Me.
The story was brilliant and intricate, (I cried, lol’ed, wanted to shout…) and the writing itself was Tremendous– humor, wit, side jokes, side refs, creativity, poetry, intricacy, free form… –when considering writing as craft I was personally inspired and even liberated in sorts.
(Warning, spoiler alerts!)
I don’t want to do any injustice to the fans…
Now, I haven’t read each book, and Gobet of Fire isn’t even at the library in English!) so I’m no expert. [update, I’ve read them all! <3] But I did devour Books 3, 5, 7, 2, playscript 8, and 1 (in that order), plus the movies and spin-off books. Many aspects of these stories, characters, lines, not to mention the real-life refs to social injustice as seen through werewolves, house elves, muggle-borns, and the whole “pure blood” concept, have kept my heart thinking. (I’m still reeling that Potter never came out about what Umbridge did to him).
But two lines from the final story shot through me like lightning:
1. When Voldermort decrees the end of sorting at Hogwarts.
The Hogwarts School is divided into four “Houses,” (or teams) and all first years undergo the sorting process. The division can build deep bonds that may otherwise be missed in social life, but competition can also spark a mean spirit against the “other.” I’ve witnessed booing at my kids’ school when large groups were suddenly divided in teams. Teasing and insults aren’t far behind.
How much heartache could be avoided if Hogwarts skipped the Sorting?
When Voldermort dropped the sorting bomb I felt a genuine relief and gratitude. Youth already have so much to label and hate eachother for and Hogwarts was no different (Ravenclaw for smarties, Gryffindor for the brave, Hufflepuff for the dedicated and hardworking, Slytherin for the by-any-means-necessary…). Can’t we be done with division and take to heart the sorting hat song about Hufflepuff being willing to teach All students?
But while Voldermort’s idea had some good, it wasn’t rooted in Freedom or Love. All students needed to align with one house, Slytherin, his own.
Where there’s no Freedom, there’s no Love.
2. Snape’s assertion that he acquired no soft spot for Harry, but rather all he’s endured stems from his love for Lilly, Harry’s deceased mother.
Who could contemplate a character like Professor Snape? This almost triple spy who never paraded his skill or virtue, nor had (or sought) the hope of his truth ever coming out. This ultimate Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts was more honorable, disciplined and humble than any we could imagine.
After all Snape endured, how could he do anything wrong??
When Dumbledore questions if Snape has finally started to care for Harry, Snape retorts that all he’s done has and always will be for Lilly.
But dear Professor Snape: if you truly loved Lilly, wouldn’t that love have extended to her son? He is her only flesh and blood and the one for whom her heart beat.
If someone wants to truly love me, they must love my children. The smallest care for them is the greatest care for my own heart; for I’m intrinsically wrapped in their well being…
Snape, in not allowing his heart to open and love Harry, did his unbreakable love for Lilly a deep injustice.
But all is forgiven, steadfast, brave and most tortured soul…
So what do you think?
What are the real tests of Love and how do they manifest practically? Would love allow sorting at Hogwarts to continue if it fosters deeper bonds between brethren than may exist without? And if one House keeps struggling–poor Slytherin from whence every dark wizard came–might a brave resistance rise to love those wizards who fell to the wayside?
Do we ever know how deep love goes unless one has fallen beyond it?
Ofcourse, Harry Potter isn’t real, but the stories remind us to never lose hope in the face of darkness, point us to the power of the human spirit– which has strength beyond any magic–, and awaken our hearts to believe in a Love infinitely greater than anything we’ve glimpsed this side of heaven.
Lots to contemplate from simple “children’s” books…
More posts of interest:
-What they Did to You, They did to Me – Rejection Anger Empathy Love, from the #WildKidsWildGod Series
–Sometimes Love Needs Limit to Shine: Why We Won’t Trust God unless He has a Last Piece of Pie…
–Real Love Needs a Test Drive
–When Divine Kids get the “House” all to Themselves
–5 Lessons from “Frozen” I Didn’t See Coming
Hey, I’m Jasmine, I’m drinking coffee, and I hope this post gave you a boost, or something to think about–in a good way. I love trying to get to the heart of a matter and try to share about a misunderstood– and I think often misrepresented– God. If you ever wondered ‘is this all there is?’ or wanted to go deeper in issues of identity, empowerment or integrating/activating social justice or fire from your heart, just send me an email to connect, or for workshop or event opportunities.
-Feature image: Harry Potter movie still, text over from thisisheartinformation.com
-It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but more to stand up to your friends- Dumbledore (found on search here.)
-Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban book cover
-The One who died for Power, the one who died for Love and the one who greeted death as an old Friend–reference to the Tale of the 3 Brothers (JK Rowling), image source here.
-After All this time? Dumbledore confronts Snape– movie stills, Harry Potter 7
-Snape holding the deceased Lilly Potter, movie still, Harry Potter 7 (The Deathly Hollows)
-DVD Cover Image, Harry Potter 7 (The Deathly Hollows) pt. 2
-Sometimes were tested not to show our weakness, but to discover our strengths, sourced on search here.
-“Peacemaking doesn’t mean passivity… it is a revolution of love big enough to set the oppressed and the oppressor free..” – image shared by friend who found on a FB timeline, original source has not been located.