Friday, November 18, 2005

The spirituality of Harry Potter

Nice piece on Harry Potter on beliefnet.com today. It encapsulates a lot of my feelings about the books and brings me a few new ideas.


I do love Harry Potter. Some ideas of my own:

  • Harry puts himself at risk for others, for no possible gain to himself.
  • Harry is immune from the dark side—he's never once tempted by the Voldemort obsessions. (He has his own, it's true, but they're different.)
  • Harry's friends see him for who he is, not as the "celebrity" everyone else wants a piece of.
  • There's a lot of fidelity, nobility, intelligence, camaraderie, expressed in these books.


I'm kind of a fan of morality. I know morality is relative, meaning there are areas of gray and things are not always black and white. But I believe you can find a higher way, a better way, and do that, even if it's not a perfect solution. And to me, the absolute undergirds those choices.


Okay, example. I think this was the most moral choice I ever made, where clearly the way was going to be harder but I really didn't feel I could do anything else. And that was the decision to have my son.


It didn't really feel like a decision, it was that clear to me. I mean, I didn't seriously consider any other options, such as abortion or adoption, although the latter did fly through my mind on occasion. What I did think about a lot was how in the yay would I be able to survive?


There's a strength that comes from doing what you believe is the right thing, even if you're completely on your own. And that's because sometimes it connects you more deeply with that absolute I'm talking about—with Truth, with the Divine. In my case, with no human help to lean on but still a certainty about what I had to do, I had only one place to do, and that was Up. And that strength and support was instantly available to me.


So to me, morality is shored up by spirituality. You can't have one without the other. Those who make right choices, often the harder choices, those who put off instant gratification for the greater good, those who are able to put another's welfare before their own—they are spiritually-minded, even if they never call it that. One of the axioms of theater is: Actions reveal character, not speech. It's fascinating to me that it's your actions that reveal your true spirituality, not what you profess. So I see a lot more spirituality around me than those who evaluate based on creed or dogma.


Anyway, my point, you ask? To me, Harry Potter is spiritual. Not overtly, not because it's trying to be—far from it. But naturally, in showing through action how spiritual values are played out in a "real" person's life. Even if Harry is a wizard, he doesn't get out of having to show his true colors—his true humanity.

Humanity is the outward expression of the spiritual; morality is spirituality in action.


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