**HUGE SPOILER WARNING -- Do NOT read unless you've read the entire series or don't care -- Jonah, this means you)**
I just watched the second half of the final Harry Potter movie, and I loved it. I clapped when McGonagall had the Slytherins taken to the dungeons, I cried more than once. This movie and the first half were the only two that did the books justice in my opinion.
Walking out of the movie theater, I reflected on why the Harry Potter story means so much to me. What values does it demonstrate that are significant to me? I came up with friendship, loyalty, bravery, and transformation. Also, although madness abounds in Harry's life, he has the consistency of two best friends who are with him through thick and thin. I've always wanted friends like that, and moving around a lot as a child, it was impossible to form such relationships. So I met my need vicariously through these characters.
I love the Harry Potter characters. They seem more real than a lot of people do to me. When one dies, my heart aches. When two kiss, it leaps for joy. Their challenges and struggles matter to me, and I see them as honorable people. Which is why I was so offended when, as I was unlocking my bike from in front of the theatre, an old man asked me what movie I had seen and then began to rant about how he will never see Harry Potter because its black magic. Looking back to that moment just about an hour ago, I see that I felt hurt. But my first response was defensiveness, especially because I'd recently read some websites espousing similar attitudes.
I tried calmly telling him that that is a common misunderstanding, and that the story is actually about fighting black magic (Voldemort), not practicing it. And then he started ranting about how the bible already tells you all about that blah blah blah. I thought of saying, "Jesus loves Harry Potter," but instead said, "The bible is just a book. Learn how to think for yourself."
I wish I had said that Jesus loves Harry Potter though. The Jesus I was taught to know and love as a child would surely appreciate the way Harry embodies so many of the qualities that Jesus taught:
~courage and leadership in the face of power being wielded to evil ends (Satan & the Pharisees/Voldemort)
~humility (Harry digs Dobby's grave by hand doesn't he?)
~mercy (he rescues Draco and Co. from the fire in the Room of Requirement after they've tried to kill him. Come on, what is more merciful than that?)
Add to this the fact that Harry is ultimately willing to DIE FOR HIS FRIENDS AND THE GOOD OF ALL WIZARDS AND MUGGLES ALIKE (to protect them from Voldemort) and you might not be surprised if he had a WWJD key chain in his pouch along with his broken wand and other trinkets. But even if he doesn't, Harry Potter is still a great model of what I hope are still Christian values--if people aren't blinded by oversimplification of a complicated issue such as what the bible and/or Jesus actually asks or demands of people.
For one, Jesus actually said that Christians do not have to follow the old Jewish laws. So anything the Old Testament says about divination and sorcery being bad can be thrown out the window for Christians; he said that people would be saved by faith, not deeds. And its important to analyze any historical text in the context of its surroundings-- even if he did condemn 'witchcraft' (remembering this is an English word and that he spoke Hebrew, so who knows how well we're getting the grasp of the situation), do you really think he meant wizards trying to save the world are wrong or sinful? I'm sure he wouldn't want Voldemort to take over the world any more than the devil.
So, props to Harry for saving the world, and props to Jesus for being smarter than most of your modern day followers. And go see the final movie-- it's great.