Pondering Potter

Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere lately, you’ve probably heard or seen that the last Harry Potter film was released in July. I have been a long time Harry Potter fan, my mom having read the first two books to me before they became a world-wide phenomenon. It seems only fitting, here, at the end of it all (yes, I know the books ended a while ago, but bear with me), to reflect on the series.

While Harry Potter, particularly the last book, demonstrates some rather poignantly Christian themes (such as self-sacrifice, the power of love, etc.), the most Christian thing about the Potter series is simply this: it is a good story.

Good stories are really important, even “non-Christian” ones. They’re important because they remind us that there are good stories. We see a lot of bad stories. Bad stories are not just tragedies that we see on the news. A bad story is a story that ought not be a story. It’s a man who has tons of potential but is paralyzed by fear. It’s the story of a husband who rather than take ownership of the fact that his marriage is struggling, has an affair. The stories of wildly successful people blowing everything because they lack meaning. These are bad stories. A bad story is not just a sad ending – a bad story is one that could have been good, but wasn’t.

With so many bad stories, with so many disappointments, it’s easy to become disillusioned and enter into a bad story in our own lives. Yet works like Potter combat this. They tell the good story of a boy who, despite feeling incredibly overwhelmed, centers himself around love and willingly sacrifices himself. Harry was never perfect, that would be a horrible misread; but it’s that he was willing.

Good stories, like Potter, are vital because they in turn point us to the best story. Where Harry Potter isn’t perfect, Christ is. All good stories remind us of the best story, of the gospel. The story of a life lived in perfect submission to the Father for me is one that is not just good, but great.

By the grace of God, the story does not just end there, either. What is truly great about the gospel is that its story infects my own, making my story which could so easily be a bad one, also become great. Harry Potter has a lot of great themes, and left me with a lot to chew on, but the best thing good stories like Harry Potter do is remind us that if we are living in the grace of God and following Jesus, we are actually living the best story.

Thanks, J.K. Rowling, for a good story. Thank you, Jesus, for an incredible one.

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