Category Archives: Harry Potter

Grace: He knew you’d want to come back


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Image via Wikipedia

My favourite line in the Harry Potter series comes in the last of the seven books, Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsThe three friends are on the run, confused by the seemingly inadequate clues left by the late Professor Dumbledore, and unsure of what to do next.  They fall to squabbling among themselves, and partly in anger and partly in fear for his family, Ron runs out on Harry and Hermione.  The problem was that, given the nature of their nomadic existence, once Ron had left them there was no way he could find them again.  A deluminator, a gift left to him in Dumbledore’s will, provided the way.  It picked up Hermione’s voice like a radio transmitter and allowed him to home in on where they were.  When he told Harry how he had found them (just in time to save Harry’s life) Ron said, “He – well, he must’ve known I’d run out on you.”

“No,” Harry corrected him.  “He must’ve known you’d always want to come back.”

I find myself deeply moved by Harry’s correction.  What a gift to give his friend.  It speaks volumes of grace and forgiveness, of welcome and belonging.  How easy it would have been, how natural, for Harry to have said, “Yeah.”  In the film version, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Ron simply says, “Dumbledore must’ve known I would want to get back.” I think they missed it.

I wonder how often we have the opportunity to offer grace and forgiveness, welcome and a sense of belonging, but end up agreeing with another’s sense of failure and despair.  Sometimes we have grace in our hearts, which we fail to express.  Sometimes words get in the way and there is misunderstanding; sometimes our pride or sense of fairness, perhaps, gets in the way and we fail to bridge the gap or offer hope.  At work managers are just too busy, and we fail to recognise the significance of such moments in employee’s lives.  We confirm an employee’s failure without offering any understanding or any way forward; we focus on mistakes and ignore the positives and successes as unimportant or insignificant.  We leave others hanging with, “he must’ve known I’d run out on you”, when there is so much more we could offer. 

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Freshly Pressed with Harry Potter


I cannot begin to express the incredible sense of privilege I feel at having been “Freshly Pressed” by the Editor, Joy Victory, at WordPress.

Using her particular guidelines, Joy takes what she considers to be her “choice” WordPress blogs of the day and highlights them for a day. The result is that instead of a trickle of visits, hundreds of people stopped by to read what I had written about Harry Potter. That in itself was an honour, but the responses people left behind were humbling and hugely encouraging for my writing.

A colleague once said that, in the face of much praise, one should breathe in but not inhale. I’m trying hard not to inhale…..

There have been a couple of detractors of course. The saddest thing about these is that there is no room for debate. On the strength of one blog post it is decreed that I am so far gone that others should “leave him to his fate”. Quite convenient, really, because then we don’t have to engage, encourage, embrace or, of course, love.

Like the Pharisees, who stood by watching to see if they could trap Jesus, we seem only interested in the keeping of laws. Bible laws, of course, but only those we feel comfortable with. None of this namby pamby love that Jesus sought to demonstrate. “Rightness over intimacy” is what Mark Buchanan called it in his excellent book, The Rest of God. I struggle with the same tendency so I’m not pointing fingers here. Anyway, next week it’ll be back to the realities of a bloggers lonely existence but, for now, I am on top of the world. (Don’t inhale! Don’t inhale! Don’t inh……………..)

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Power, Love and Harry Potter


Shhh!  Don’t Tell.  I’ve been reading Harry Potter

I have just finished reading the Harry Potter stories again.  Now I’m ready for the movies of the last book.  Oh dear, that’s a confession that’s going to get me into trouble, but there you go.  Some Christians do get rather worked up about these things.

I was impressed again with JK Rowling’s writing.  I like her style, her use of words, her humour.  She seems to know young people very well and effectively describes their fears and their progress through life.  The magical world she created is also quite extraordinary.  It’s not on the majestic scale of JRR Tolkien but it’s believable and it draws one in.  There are one or two things one might quibble with or want to know more about but, like good science fiction writers, she gives you enough to enjoy and lightly skims over the bits that should not be examined too closely. It is truly a magical world.  Owls deliver post; witches and wizards really do fly on brooms; and they even have a Quidditch world cup—a game played on brooms.

The great theme that runs throughout the series of course is that of good versus evil and, specifically, in the form of power versus love.  There are instruments and positions of power; if any of them are sought for themselves alone, for the good of the holder alone, they will corrupt.  The old adage, ‘power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely’ is explored throughout the series.

We fear weakness.  We want to be strong or to be around those who are strong. 

Of course the real baddy in the books, Lord Voldermort, has completely corrupted his soul in his pursuit of power.  He has no interest in anyone around him, well not in their friendship, only in their service—their complete subjection to himself.

The good guy, the tireless warrior on the side of good, the headmaster Albus Dumbledore, is only too aware of his weakness.  He knows that, given half a chance, he would be no different from Voldermort.  Power appeals to him and he knows how easy it is to succumb to its allure; as a result he avoids positions (like the Minister of Magic) where the temptation would be too great, and he remains a teacher.

There is an interesting cameo from Dumbledore’s youth that is touched on in the last of the seven books but not explored.  Dumbledore was tempted by a power-hungry fellow student and in plotting to conquer the world they convince themselves that their pursuit of power is “for the greater good”.  The idea that “one man should die for the sake of the people” is of course something with which Christians are familiar.  And the idea that the end justifies the means has been quoted to justify a host of horrors throughout history.  

What appeals to me about Harry Potter himself (yet frustrates the adult in me no end) is that he is no super hero.  Some things are so obvious to my adult view but I know that when I was Harry’s age (the books cover the seven years from Harry’s twelfth to his eighteenth year) I was even less socially adept than Harry and way behind him in political and social awareness.

Harry’s greatest strength is that he cares about people around him.  He may hate with a bitter hatred those he sees ranged on the side of evil, but he will not kill them or leave them to die—even when their death would have been caused by their own attempts to destroy him.

The key to the defeat of Voldermort by Harry (and Harry’s own protection) is the love of Harry’s mother who died trying to save Harry life when he was one year old.  The same theme returns at the end when Harry himself is prepared to die to try to save the lives of his friends.  His action creates the force that finally destroys the evil Lord Voldemort.  Once again we have the idea that one person should die for the good of all.  The key difference is that men and women of power use the idea of the ‘greater good’ to cause others (never themselves) to suffer ‘all in a good cause’.  For Harry, and for the Christian who follows Jesus’ call to take up his or her cross and follow Jesus, death for the sake of others is a choice.  And it is the choice itself that brings life.

[For an interesting interview with JK Rowling about some of these themes, of which I was not aware when I wrote this post, see here] – added 23 Nov. 2010

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