I finished Harry Potter and it was awesome. On my other blog, I wrote a short post on it but here I want to put down some thoughts (with tons of spoilers) I’ve had banging around my head for the last week. Once again, I AM going to post spoilers with wild and callous abandon so you’ve been duly warned.
I was at church Sunday and the guest speaker was talking about the foolishness of some Christian programs and used an example of a Church that was hosting a VBS during the summer with the theme "Flying with Harry Potter" or something like that. His point then expanded to include everything wrong with Harry Potter and the fact that the book deals with witches and wizards and the Bible says "you shall not allow a witch/sorceress to live." Later on we found ourselves all happily discussing things like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia all which feature Sorcerers, Wizards and Witches respectively.
Thing is Rowling managed to tell a great story and put in a couple of Christian themes without being obvious (like C.S. Lewis although in the first book of the Prelandria Space Trilogy it can be argued that he wasn’t openly waving a Christian banner yet).
One major theme would be the conquering of Death and not by a false victory of cheating death but rather by removing its power—the biting sting of the grave (highlighted in fact by some writing on a tombstone ‘and the last enemy conquered is death’). Voldemort survived (the first time) it seemed because of a connection to Harry but we discover that the man was destroying his own soul to ensure immortality.
And yet many of Voldemorts enemies willingly accepted death for the sake of others and with no fear of its bite. Dumbledore himself accepting death at the hands of Severus knowing that it would serve a greater purpose than his present life.
There was some conceptualizing of ends justifying the means but it was plainly realized that such thinking in the hands of humans was utterly faulty (though there was a fair amount of ends justifying the means when the means consisted of the foibles of men). Death was to be overcome in the present, not by stepping on anything to get there and justify all wrongdoings at the end. Therefore in all of the cases of a hero’s death, it was always as a result of self sacrifice during the heat of the moment. X person is saving Harry and dies. Y person is fighting for someone else and dies—even without knowing if there death was really helping things. Even Dumbledore (who died in the previous book) was prone to error and miscalculation realized only after his death. Indeed, the fact that Harry Potter became the one character who willingly, openly and calmly went to his death (not during the heat of the moment but with an understanding that he had to die for the many) underscored a the entrance path to the conquering of Death, by taking its bite for the rest.
All in all, magic proved to be incidental to the story; more of the flash bangs of weapons that add to a story and give it a nice twist (I mean, we’ve all gone to school and can relate to buying pencils and picking up notebooks—the fact that the woman wrote the story to consist of buying wands and spellbooks was utterly, ahem, charming). This is made evident by Harry ultimately not conquering his enemy with magic but by stepping aside and letting his friends Do Things and finally, when he must act, he lays down himself.
Lastly, the fact that he survives death is not to be diminished. For all intents and purposes his friends (and his enemies) truly do believe he’s dead and they proceed to parade his corpse to the crowd. I was reminded of the humiliation of Aslan at that moment as Hagrid was forced to carry Harry’s body out of the darkness.
There was some other things I thought I should put down, but I think I’ve spoiled enough of the book .