July 18, 2011
Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the past few months, the final movie in the Harry Potter series came out last weekend. I don’t have the statistics on the number of people who are still opposed to the franchise, but I want to take today’s post and highlight a few things that I have gathered in my 10 year following of Harry Potter. I haven’t read past book two but my husband has read them all and we have seen every movie… and if you are doubting me because I am a Harry Potter fan, I am writing this just for you. (There are a few spoilers in this so please stop reading now if you are planning on seeing the movie.)
Wizards, magic, ghosts, flying broomsticks, strange creatures, far off lands, violence… it’s all there. J.K. Rowling tells a story of a young boy whose life was spared by the most powerful and evil wizard to ever exist. That wizard, named Voldemort, had killed Harry’s family, but since Harry’s mother had sacrificed her life to save his, Harry lived. Voldemort’s power was weakened by this, and being one who feared death over anything else, Voldemort decided to cast a spell that would split his soul into seven pieces of tangible items, called horcruxes. Now I know what a lot of you are thinking… the idea of having the most evil wizard controling his own destiny sounds a little blasphemous, but that is why he ultimately fails. He cannot defeat the power of good.
While at a school called Hogwarts, Harry encounters many battles, adventures and disturbing situations while being pursued by Voldemort, who wants his revenge. To top it off, there is a wand, known as the Elder Wand, that holds the most powerful magic in the world… and it has ended up in Voldemort’s hands. This wand is so powerful that it’s master cannot be killed while holding it. In the end, it is all up to Harry (and his friends) to destroy each of the horcruxes and to get the Elder Wand out of Voldemort’s possession. How is all of this relevant to religion?
When Oprah interviewed J.K. Rowling a few months ago, the talk show queen asked her what she thought of all the naysayers (specifically the Christians) who opposed the books. Her response really stuck with me. I’m paraphrasing, but she told Oprah that she had only written the books to be fun and to give children a chance to really use their imagination. She did point out, however, that she added a lot of Christian symbolism into the stories.
Snakes that represent evil, a good wizard that sacrifices himself to save others, an evil wizard that is still mortal no matter how hard he tries not to be, a battle between good and evil, the strength and power that comes from love and friendship, the purity of the unicorn… it’s all there.
In the end, Harry stands around with his friends after he has defeated Voldemort and they ask what he will do now that he is the master of the most powerful wand in the world. He looks at them, breaks it in half and throws it over his shoulder. Harry tells them that it is time to give the wand back to Death himself, for it was his in the first place. My thinking during this scene was, “You can’t try to play God. Possessing magic that powerful can never be fully understood or controlled.”
If you haven’t seen the movies or read any of the books, I really recommend checking them out!
What do you think of the Harry Potter franchise? Would you recommend it or advise church members to avoid it?