Tuesday, November 4, 2014
The Magic Lives On, or "Why I like Harry Potter"
I work with children. As Director of Christian Education at St. Mark's, I frequently have to ask my readers to put down their books to participate in our Bible studies and the activities we use to reinforce these stories. And what book is most often the culprit? One of the Harry Potter series. Even the non-readers have been known to carry one with them to soccer, soft-ball, music lessons, etc.
What is it about this awkward, unloved, young orphan boy thrust into an often scary world that appeals so strongly to what is now another decade of young readers?
For over ten years at Camp Stoney (now the Bishop Ridge Episcopal Camp and Conference Center) we offered a week of Harry Potter Camp. For many of those years, I played the part of Deputy Headmistress Minerva McGonagle. Along with a very enthusiastic and dedicated group of diocesan volunteers, we used these books to teach about the Christian themes so cleverly hidden in J.K. Rowlings books. (I say cleverly because, like the great Christian theologian, C.S. Lewis, who wrote the children's Narnia series, Rawling wanted non-Christians to read these books.) “To me, [the religious parallels have] always been obvious,” Rowling said. “But I never wanted to talk too openly about it because I thought it might show people who just wanted the story where we were going.”
Rowling explores themes of self-sacrifice, combating prejudice, choosing worthy companions and being loyal, fighting for good against evil, and yes even the theme of death and resurrection woven throughout Christian allegorical stories.
In “Deathly Hallows,” Harry visits his parents’ graves at Godric’s Hallow and sees two biblical references on his parents’ tombstones, reading: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death,” and "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
One Sunday morning, I asked the young people at St. Mark's what sort of party they would like to have. Maybe an Alice in Wonderland party, a pirate party, a theatre night party? Nope they all voted for a Harry Potter Party. So today, after VOTING on somewhat more important issues (have you voted yet?) I am off to Camp Stoney to pick up some of the sets we made over the years for the upcoming party.