“And all the stars were crashing ’round
As I laid eyes on what I’d found…”
–The Crane Wife, Colin Meloy (The Decemberists)
“Harry looked at him, startled; the idea that anything as normal as awedding could still exist seemed incredible and yet wonderful.”
-p. 652, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J. K. Rowling
The Harry Potter bandwagon missed me the first time it passed through town. I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and started on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and didn’t finish. The books didn’t grab me then.
The last few months I have lost more sleep over this series… My friend Julie told me she’d seen some great truths in them, some things that helped her understand the way of Jesus. Bridget agreed, and as the reader in our family, handed me her books, one by one. This time around, I find myself caught up in the wonder of a well-written story.
The best kinds of stories reflect the larger story… of good and evil and love and hate and redemption and humanity and brokenness and… well, everything. The boy wizard and his friends at Hogwarts are helping me these days process through what it means to be human and what it means to believe you are called to something bigger than yourself .
I’m amazed at how a great story sucks you in and invites you to see yourself in the characters. Thursday night I finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, bawling my eyes out as I considered Neville and Luna. For Harry Potter fans, you know they’re outcasts at Hogwarts. Harry and Dumbledore’s Army give the a place to belong and even to step beyond their social misfitted selves and into a battle as big as good and evil. The embrace of that identity leads these two into a destiny that includes fighting Death Eaters and risking their whole lives when many others abandon the cause.
I cried because that is the story that the church ought to be giving away… we are meant to instill confidence in anyone and everyone that they, yes, they have a place in God’s Kingdom. The embrace of that identity costs everything and produces an inheritance that no one can touch: the love of God and life, full and free.
The books are not rose-colored. Life includes very real evil and costly losses. Characters ache and lose and wrestle with themselves and their relationships with others. Some die. The reader aches and loses and wrestles right alongside of them, recognizing pieces of their own journey within the story. Harry and his friends long to see the evil Lord Voldemort defeated. Their commitment outgrows individual wants and needs… and their commitment’s root? Love.
I’ll not go further than that, lest I give the series away. It echoes, though, the larger story which I believe we were made for, the one that is told, “For God so loved the world…”
I love that. I have lots of other things to say about Harry Potter. I am still pondering and processing and loving the adventure. If you haven’t read these books, you should. If you have, the treasure of wisdom and truth hidden within is yours for the taking. May the wide-eyed wonder produced by the books bear the fruit of wide-eyed wonder in reality… That’s what reading a great story should do.