Here comes the spoiler disclaimer once more:
Warning: There are definitely spoilers in this post. If you have not read all the books yet, STOP reading right now! (I’m looking at you, wife.) Instead, go read these delightful books for yourself, before the movies or other people spoil the story for you!
Now then, on with the show, as they say. After reading several other blog posts about Harry Potter (here, here, here and here), my mind was jogged to remember several things that I’d forgotten to mention in terms of theology in Harry Potter. I probably plagiarized an idea or two too. ;)
The character’s attitudes towards death are what fundamentally shape them. Voldemort is afraid of death, and this is what drives him to become the horror he is. When Dumbledore tells him that there are things worse than death, Voldemort simply cannot comprehend this. Dumbledore and Harry, on the other hand, portray a healthy—and even heroic—attitude towards death.
There are two direct Scripture references in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and it might be said that the whole series is a reference to John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” The other two references are seen on the tombstones of Harry’s parents and Kendra Dumbledore. The former has “The last enemy to be destroyed is death,” (1 Cor 15:26) while the latter has “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mat 6:21).
The journey of faith is symbolized in Harry’s struggle to trust Dumbledore despite his fears that Dumbledore might only be treating Harry as a pawn. Harry uncovers some unsavory accusations against his mentor and wonders if Dumbledore actually ever loved him. Although he doesn’t have answers to his questions, Harry decides to trust Dumbledore and his plan for Harry to destroy the Horcruxes. This faith in Dumbledore, it turns out, was well-placed, but Harry does not discover this until later on. This is, in my mind, an excellent description of faith: trusting in a person who has proven him/herself trustworthy, even though serious questions and/or doubts linger.
But even without the richness of theological allusion in Harry Potter, these books are worth a read simply because it’s a cracking good story. Mystery, intrigue, believable characters and a richness of detail make for books that I never failed to read in extremely short durations. Thank you, J.K. Rowling, for a good story.
2 responses to “Harry Potter and Good Theology 2”
Hm. A good point. After having read the whole 7 books, I see a common theme with Man’s desire for an understanding of the “Story of Life”. There is a great little book that brings this all into focus, “EPIC, The Story GOD is Telling” by John Eldredge.
Not to take anything away from Mr. Eldredge, the fight of Good over Evil is a story found in every culture in every time period since Man began telling stories. Certainly, all popular epic stories, be they Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, or Harry Potter, tell that story. We want to hear it, and we want to hear that Good wins out. I agree with the author of EPIC that such a universal story must have a common genesis.
Is it too great a stretch to suppose GOD has set such a story in our heart? What could possibly be the reason? Maybe Mr. Eldredge is correct? Could it be that GOD’s story is one that is universal through culture and time? Could it be that whether we paint the characters as Harry or Indie that what we are doing is putting those characters in our place in that furtive hunt for our true relationship with GOD in the ultimate and divine Plan? Can GOD be reaching out to us in this universal plot? Is it as simple and as complex as that?
Dave, this is an interesting point. It is, as you say, fascinating that we find this common thread running through the great stories of a multitude of times and places.