In our household, even with children who are legally and quite realistically adults, June 4th is a very important date. The next Harry Potter film is coming. All four of us children are excited for it. We've loved the books, we've enjoyed the film depictions of our favorite characters - Robbie Coltrane is a great Hagrid. I regret conservative Christian folks who can't appreciate fantasy, who get caught up in the words of witches and wizards. These same people would have to reject Lewis and Tolkien and Madeleine L'Engle and so many more great authors who take children and adults to magical places with quite positive values woven into the fabric of their stories.
I know what I'm writing is old stuff, but as June 4th approaches, once again the conservative voice will be raised against a very positive potrayal of right and wrong, of bravery and friendship, of so many characteristics that we have encouraged in our children and ourselves. Lewis handles this issue well in his book, The Last Battle, from the Chronicles of Narnia. In it Aslan, the great Christ figure, encounters a young soldier who fought valiantly and faithfully for Tash, the god of the Calormenes. In meeting Aslan the young soldier, Emeth, recounts:
"Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of Thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reason of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. No because He and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him, for I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by my name that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man can do a cruelty in my name, then though he says the name of Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yes I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou woulds not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek." (from chapter XV "Further Up and Further In".
Now Lewis is no universalist, but he certainly believes in the sovereignty of God. And he knows the difference between where good comes from and where evil comes from. One cannot produce the other. There is no confusion in Harry Potter, is there?
One of my favorite scenes in the first Potter film was the chess match, the full scale Wizard's Chess. As they continue on their journey the three conspirators, Ron, Hermione, and Harry, come to a room where they must play a chess match and win in order to pass. Ron directs the match from the position of a knight. In one of the films most poignant moments, he tells his friends that he must sacrifice himself so that Harry might proceed on his journey. Then in a bold move, Ron moves his knight into position to be attacked. He is felled. Harry completes the checkmate and moves on. What a great sense of friendship. It is a reminder of the text where Jesus states that there is no greater love that one person can have for another than to lay down his life for his friend. Then Jesus says, I am your friend.
This kind of valour and character in a book/film doesn't generate from evil places, but comes straight from the image of God that finds its way into all of God's children. We get to hold up this value and state where it comes from, and that it points to the character of Christ. In the new film, Harry will believe that Sirius Black is his enemy. He will for a long time believe the propaganda not the truth. Image is nothing, substance is everything.
Looking forward to June!