Friday, July 27, 2007

One more HP entry

Okay, I’ll just write one more entry on Harry Potter, then I’ll stop for now. I can’t promise not to pick it up again after some time has passed and everyone knows what happened, because there are so many amazing themes in the final book that I’d love to talk about. I’ll give it three months before I do so, though.

In the meantime, wanted to highlight some fun coverage that appeared on beliefnet. They had a great little feature:

Life Lessons from Harry Potter

  1. Beware of Pompous People
  2. Stay True to Your Nerdy Friends
  3. Realize That Your Family Is More Important Than You Think
  4. Speak Your Pain
  5. Don't Fear Death...
  6. ...Because Love Is Stronger Than Death

“Speak your pain” really hit home to me, because I hadn’t noticed especially before how reticent Harry had always been to tell the people who care about him what he’s going through, and how often that had led to problems. When he learns to “fess up” and tell his friends what’s on his mind, things go much better. An interesting theme for one like me, who has a gut instinct to always handle things on my own. Maybe I could learn from this.

Another interesting piece is:

Having read all the books now, do I think Harry is a Christ figure? Not really, no. Does Harry sacrifice himself for others? Yes. Does he fulfill his mission? Yes. But his mission came to him through the Dark Lord’s curse, he was not divinely appointed.

I see Harry as a soldier for good, a regular person caught up in extraordinary circumstances who does the job he’s been given to do without shirking. But he wasn’t some wizarding world’s equivalent of the Messiah. He doesn’t vanquish evil for all time, just for the time that he faced. He didn’t offer salvation to those who worked with him, just faithful companionship and his own sacrifice. Harry’s job was more the destruction of a wizarding Hitler than a wizarding Satan.

It’s like at the end of the Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander (also excellent books), when the main character Taran destroys the Death Lord and so believes that evil has been conquered. High King Gwydion says instead, “Evil conquered? You have learned much, but learn this last and hardest of lessons. You have conquered only the enchantments of evil. That was the easiest of your tasks, only a beginning, not an ending. Do you believe evil itself to be so quickly overcome? Not so long as men still hate and slay each other, when greed and anger goad them. Against these even a flaming sword cannot prevail, but only that portion of good in all men’s hearts whose flame can never be quenched.”

I’ll write more later, when I’ve re-read the entire series and I’m fairly sure I won’t be spoiling the ending for anyone. If you’re even remotely interested in the Harry Potter literary phenomena, take the time to dip into the books if you haven’t already.

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 7/27/2007 11:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too love the Harry Potter series. My wife and I are reading Book 7 aloud to each other, and using it as an incentive because we are in the midst of moving. She says: "Ok, if we do (specific job), we can read another chapter."
Enjoy your thoughts on it, Laura, and look forward to more.


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