I just finished my second reading of the book yesterday. I wanted to go back and reread it to be sure I caught more details, to make sure I didn’t miss anything during my marathon reading session last Saturday.
The final book in the blockbuster fantasy series, Deathly Hallows did not disappoint. The story ended much as I thought it might, and even though many beloved characters were lost along the way, the story settled into a happy ending, complete with a glimpse into Harry’s life 19 years down the road.
If you refer to my previous posts, you know that I have believed that this series of books is a classic story of good versus evil, of using the power bestowed upon you for the benefit of others, or for the benefit of oneself. I want to say first and foremost that this book had a redemptive ending, and paralleled the redemptive, sacrificial story of Christ in the Bible.
The mere mention of Harry Potter and the word, “Bible” in the same sentence usually causes quite a stir, but I won’t back away from it, because, in the same way I read The Lord of the Rings, I read it with an open mind, and I saw the salvation/sacrifice story in that book, and I know people who have read it who only managed to see it as a fantasy story, nothing more. Either you will see the Christian threads woven throughout Harry Potter, or you won’t.
A friend told me she believes that people can dismiss or embrace the magic in the stories of The Chronicles of Narnia and the The Lord of the Rings because, for the most part, the stories are set centuries ago in magical, made up lands. I think she’s right. The Harry Potter series is set in present day, and it’s harder to dismiss the magic in this wonderfully crafted fantasy story when you can actually imagine the magic happening in the world around you. I think that’s part of the mental block people have, whether they know it or not.
Hear me, please. Harry Potter is not Jesus. However, if a roaring lion in The Chronicles of Narnia can be compared to the Lion of Judah, then Harry Potter’s journey can certainly be compared to Jesus’ journey to the cross. In many ways, we all have been on that journey at one point or other in our lives. All of us have had to die to self and take up our cross on our journey of faith.
Since Harry was born, each moment of his life, each lesson he has learned, each loss he has suffered, has led him to the place where he discovers that ultimately, he must sacrifice himself… willingly… in order to rid the world of the embodiment of evil, Lord Voldemort. Their journeys are intertwined, for one cannot live if the other survives.
Harry learns, through a journey in a Pensieve of memories of his believed arch enemy, Severus Snape, that Snape has been protecting him his entire life and that the time will come where he will have to die to ensure Lord Voldemort’s defeat. He has been protected, kept alive, taught, nearly killed, he’s suffered, endured torture and pain… only to learn that he was not being prepared for victory, he was being prepared to die.
Dumbledore insists that this knowledge must be kept from Harry until the very end, otherwise, how would he find the strength to do what he must? Literally, all the weight of the world falls upon this 17 year old’s shoulders, and he rises to the challenge and walks willingly toward death.
Harry allows himself to be struck down by Voldemort with the irreversible killing curse, and he wakes up in a peaceful place and is joined by Dumbledore. There, they talk out what’s been happening, Dumbledore confesses to Harry that Harry is a better man than he, and that Harry now has a choice – he can go “on” and rest in eternity, or he can go back, because he is still alive, still tied to Voldemort until Voldemort himself is dead.
Harry decides to go back and finish the job. He knows he must go back for the greater good, a theme which was woven throughout this book. The desire to do something for the greater good can be motivated by love, or it can be motivated and twisted by selfishness. Voldemort believed he was cleansing the tainted “mudbloods” out of his world, just as Hitler believed what he was doing was for the greater good of humanity, sacrificing others to achieve this goal. Jesus, however, sacrificed himself for the greater good, and Harry lay down his life for his friends – even for people he didn’t know.
I don’t know what can be evil about a book that teaches the difference in choosing between what is right and what is easy, between good and evil, between sacrifice and selfishness. We are all human, we are all flawed, and we all face these types of choices every day. To introduce children to these concepts and be able to dialogue with them about these types of choices is the gift of well written literature. JK Rowling has managed to get millions of people to read a redemption story that is woven with Christian imagery even if people choose not to see it.
I will end with this. The story of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has many themes, good vs. evil, sacrifice and selfishness, and so much more. What the book boils down to, and I believe what ultimately makes Harry victorious, is found on page 325 in the epitaph on the grave of Dumbledore’s mother and sister.
Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.