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Spoiler Alert! The end of the Harry Potter series is so beautiful and such an awesome picture of what Jesus walked through for us. This is what Jerram Barrs will talk about very eloquently in the video below.

 

The final walk of Harry once he leaves the dock was very moving for me in the film. It was almost exactly as I pictured it. The choice he makes to give his life. The ache. The seeming victory for evil. It’s tremendous. But it’s all set up by the revelation about Snape.

Being Willing to Be Hated for the Sake of Something Greater

Snape is the mystery character throughout almost the entire series. You get glimpses of good in him but he seems tortured and absolutely appears to hate Harry. You wonder why Dumbledore trusts him so implicitly and then when Snape kills him at the end of “The Half-Blood Prince” you think Dumbledore was wrong and that he failed.

In “The Deathly Hallows,” we find out the truth about Snape and realize that he has just as much been the key to defeating Voldemort as Dumbledore was. Snape more than lays down his life, he lets himself be hated for the sake of Harry and defeating Voldemort. He lets his reputation and his name be nothing for the sake of the cause. He lets himself look like a fool and counts himself nothing. His death and the memories he passes on to Harry are so stirring in the book and the final film. His courage. His laying down of his life. His discipline to carry it all the way to the end. I want that kind of courage and that kind of disregard for my own life. It’s not common.

Video HT: Vitamin Z

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I think Harry Potter’s metanarrative will allow Harry to stand the test of time. However, what I loved most about the series is the fog of war.

What do I mean by “fog of war?” I mean a war that is underground, a war that is happening but somewhat hidden and under the surface of normal life. It is a war of truth or simply an underground war against oppressive forces. It is a war denied by most but, nevertheless, is happening.

“You have been told that a certain Dark wizard has returned from the dead – “

“He wasn’t dead,” said Harry angrily, “but yeah, he’s returned!”

“Mr.-Potter-you-have-already-lost-your-House-ten-points-do-not-make-matters-worse-for-yourself,” said Professor Umbridge in one breath without looking at him. “As I was saying, you have been informed that a certain Dark wizard is at large once again. This is a lie.

“It is NOT a lie!” said Harry. “I saw him, I fought him!”

“Detention, Mr. Potter!” said Professor Umbridge triumphantly. “Tomorrow evening. Five o’clock. My office. I repeat, this is a lie.”

The Goblet of Fire and The Order of the Phoenix

After the first 3 books of the Harry Potter series, you’re still not sure where it’s all going. After the end of Book 4, “The Goblet of Fire,” when the evil Voldemort finally returns in the flesh, you know that this is all going to come down to who wins the war. I love the conflict that follows – the Ministry of Magic denies Voldemort is back and very few believe Harry and Dumbledore. The majority of people and students just want to believe everything is ok, that Harry is lying and just wants attention. The Ministry is clouded by pride and fear and therefore just views the Voldemort return story as a political power play by Dumbledore. Only the Order believes and knows Voldemort is back. And so begins the fog of war – a war that is propelled by recruiting on each side, battles, and schemes, but a war that is predominantly about truth. Once the end of “The Goblet of Fire” happens and the story amps up in “The Order of the Phoenix,” this theme drives much of the tension and the lead up to the end.

This is exactly how the New Testament paints the war we are in and it’s the temptation we are easily lulled into – just relax and be comfortable, it’s all good, no need to fight. In Harry Potter, the truth becomes very clear to all (much too late) once the Ministry of Magic falls in the final book, but we are in a fog of war that will last until the end.

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6 ESV)

The Half-Blood Prince and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter Vs Voldemort

In the “Half-Blood Prince,” everyone knows Voldemort is back, but he has become too powerful and still is content to lurk in the shadows, building his forces without direct confrontation. Even in all the conflict and tension of these 6 books, there are really only 2 outright battles: at the end of the “Order of the Phoenix” and, of course, the Battle of Hogwarts at the end of the “Deathly Hallows.” I love that. This is not a war that will be one by power or simple battle strategy. There is only one way: by sacrifice, death and perseverance. The key to victory is not just a search for and destruction of the horcruxes but the willingness of at least 3 key characters to die and give their lives that evil would be defeated. If any of those characters cling to their own life, the war is lost. No mere confrontation of Voldemort will do until these sacrifices have happened. They have no power to face Voldemort otherwise.

We have no power to face Satan or fight sin apart from the death of Jesus. We are just slaves apart from Jesus just as Voldemort would make everyone if he wins. Voldemort cherishes his worldly life, power and control, while Harry and his friends cherish love, sacrifice, and not their own lives. The film versions actually do a beautiful job with this in the last 3 books. The Battle of Hogwarts is the culmination of all of it. Those against Voldemort know the stakes and know they will not be powerful enough to win, they know something else has to happen and Harry has to come through. Does Harry come in with a secret weapon, having attained a power greater than Voldemort? You’ll have to check it out yourself.

This Life is Not a Pleasure Cruise but a War

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8 ESV)

The Harry Potter series is a profound picture of an underground war that hardly anyone believes in. I love the concept of the Order of the Phoenix, this band of brothers and sisters who resolve to fight for good in the fog, who know what is at stake, who know this life is not fun and games, and who commit their very lives to be laid down if necessary. It’s convicting. Am I simply strolling through life as a believer in Jesus or am I jumping in the fray to see the gospel moved forward and people rescued from slavery and a death that will simply be a door to more misery?

And how disastrous for us is the continual remembrance of death which war enforces. One of our best weapons, contented worldliness, is rendered useless. In wartime not even a human can believe that he is going to live forever. – Screwtape (“The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis)

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Wherever we see beauty, light, truth, goodness, we see Christ. Do we think him so small that he couldn’t invade a series of books about a boy wizard? Do we think him cut off from a story like this, as if he were afraid, or weak, or worried? Remember when Santa Claus shows up (incongruously) in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? It’s a strange moment, but to my great surprise I’ve been moved by it. Lewis reminds me that even Father Christmas is subject to Jesus, just as in Prince Caspian the hosts of mythology are subject to him. The Harry Potter story is subject to him, too, and Jesus can use it however he wants. In my case, Jesus used it to help me long for heaven, to remind me of the invisible world, to keep my imagination active and young, and he used it to show me his holy bravery in his triumph over the grave. – Andrew Peterson

I have been a fan of Harry Potter since I picked up the first book sometime in college in the late 90s. I didn’t think about it much at the time, I just saw a lot of good being glorified in it and was enthralled by the story. Aside from biographies and the Puritans, I’ll choose a good fiction book any day. The story of the paths of the dead in Return of the King is stunning, reminding me that Jesus is with me in the darkness. Jekyll’s slow losing battle with Hyde is demonstrates that yielding to sin does not satisfy it but actually perpetuates it and enslaves. Atticus Finch is an example of an imperfect father with rock hard conviction and integrity. Fiction can be messy, but story lingers with you and can help us understand greater truths and the gospel in deeper ways.

I think Harry Potter has lasting power and there is a lot of good built into it in a way that can stir us up in the right things. The Harry Potter series will prove to be a classic.

Side note: I will not be making this argument for Twilight.

What is the Metanarrative of Harry Potter?

Christians were warned about the dangers of Harry Potter, the draw to the occult, to witchcraft, the likelihood that Satan existed in the very pages of Rowling’s novels. Some, perhaps even some reading this, still wonder whether we should be concerned about in the Potter books. I’m not intending to tread on those concerns; we should always be discerning. But at this point, reviewing the history of the debate, the content of the Potter books, and the professions of faith from their author, it’s hard to come to any other conclusion than that those of us who were once concerned about or opposed to the series were wrong. It’s edifying literature, deliberately full of Christian symbols. – Travis Prinzi

Until recently, I mostly saw how Christians opposed the Harry Potter series and warned of its witchcraft and occult references. I’ve read a few things about how Harry Potter supposedly uses the same “magic words” as actual witchcraft.

That may be true and certainly there is some maturity needed to handle these books just as there is maturity needed for many a book. Readers need to be mature enough to evaluate what is glorified? What is the imparted worldview? What main themes being ingrained through this story? Evil is awesome? Be like Voldemort? Spells are what win battles? Magic rules? Anyone saying that has not read the books.

Harry Potter is all about character over magic. Love over evil. Good triumphing in the end. Battling evil is more about courage and the willingness to lay down your own life than it is about pure knowledge or being able to aim well with your wand. That’s why Harry is not the best wizard, and why Ron is so important and why we need to see Hermione’s heart more than her dazzling skills. Neville represents more of a thirst for revenge than we may like but he also represents perseverance, growth in courage, and honoring the legacy of your parents. Neville also represents the sovereignty and grace of God. The only thing that ultimately distinguishes him from Harry is the fact that Voldemort chose to try to kill infant Harry instead of infant Neville. Their destiny is by no choice of their own and yet their destiny is affected by their very character.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:24-25 ESV)

Think about these themes: the destiny of good to triumph over evil, sacrifice and the willingness to lay down your own life being the route to victory, loyalty, friendship, love. Doesn’t sound like a terrible story rooted in the occult to me.

Why will Harry Potter last?

Consider the long-standing, complicated issue of fate and free will, which has been endlessly debated in systematics and caused harsh and violent lines to be drawn between Christian groups. Now, watch the way events unfold in Oedipus Rex, or in MacBeth, or in Harry Potter, where free will and prophecy fulfillment interact and intersect and weave in and out of each other. The issue, in story form, produces mystery and wonder, whereas in our theological propositions, it tends to produce argument and frustration. Fairy tales give us imaginative access to truth in places our religion textbooks cannot go. – Travis Prinzi

I’m not sure if Harry Potter will have the lasting power of a Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia. It might have too many roots in our current culture to be a classic. However, when I think back to my childhood and the 80s and 90s, I can think of no lasting classics like this. Harry Potter stands out. How many other series have been written using similar themes and magic and coming of age children? Along with vampires and other similar themes, I’m guessing too many to count.

I think Harry Potter will still be worth reading (movies get old very quickly!) in 25 years. The themes are so accessible and glorifying of the right things that it will last. The characters are fantastic. The story brings in way too much of the gospel to ignore it. Forget about the movies, read the books. Try not to be moved. Try not to get caught up in the war against evil. Try not to be moved by a character willing to be hated by all in order to be a major component for good. Just try. This is a story that will last because it has so much of the one story we all need.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 ESV)

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You’ve heard it all before: the movies are never as good as the book they are based on. But here’s the rub: reading is a very solitary experience. It’s just you and the author engaging in the story. When I finished the very last book in the Harry Potter series (the Deathly Hallows), it was pretty anticlimactic. It was a tremendous finish with certain secrets revealed and a very stirring end in the choices Harry makes. But I read it alone. Even when my wife read it shortly after I finished, it was different. Sure, we discussed it, but it didn’t feel like a shared experience. There’s something about closing out a series on the big screen. Maybe I’m too real time now with the advent of Twitter and the internet. It’s likely me being a product of my culture, but seeing a film with the anticipation that this one brought on with my wife on the opening Friday in a packed theater was a blast that was a fitting end to the series.

I don’t want to spoil it too much but the ending sequence starting with Snape’s argument with Voldemort and leading to the last crucial horcrux was everything I imagined it and better. Yes, they changed the ending a little and added to the drama, but I appreciate how the writers knew the significance of the ending and did not rush through it on screen. I was very impatient watching this film, I kept wanting it to speed up, but director built and built and built with solid precision.

The epilogue was too much though. If you’ve seen it, you know exactly what I mean.

I want to say more about Harry Potter and the story and the gospel within but I’ll save that for another time. Let’s just say that I’m a big fan. For now, check out some excellent articles below on Harry and the stories within…

From the Rabbit Room:

Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me by Andrew Peterson

What We’ve Learned From Harry, Part 1 by Travis Prinzi

What We’ve Learned From Harry, Part 2 by Travis Prinzi

From Mockingbird

The Seven Sacraments of Harry Potter:

Part 1: The Scar

Part 2: The Mirror of Erised

Part 3: The Dementor

Part 4: The Pensieve

Part 5: The Mudblood

Part 6: The Horcrux

Part 7: The Deathly Hallows

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This week: Harry Potter & Jesus, the most risky profession: pastor, the blessed trials of being a parent, and the calling of motherhood.

Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me

Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me (by Andrew Peterson, Rabbit Room)

As for the witchcraft debate, I heave a weary sigh. No, God doesn’t want us to practice witchcraft. Of course he doesn’t. I’ve read arguments on both sides of this, and believe we could spar for days without doing a lick of good. (By the way, no debate is raging over Glenda the Good Witch of the East in The Wizard of Oz. Most Americans have probably seen that film and/or read that book, and didn’t start conducting séances on the weekends—though the flying monkeys have crept me out for years. And Oz, when compared to Potter, is practically bereft of Christian meaning.)

The Most Risky Profession (by Mark Galli, CT)

That very name suggests that perhaps the church should not be about growth and efficiency, but care and concern, not so much an organization but a community, not something that mimics our high-tech culture but something that incarnates a high-touch fellowship. By God’s grace, there is a remnant of such churches alive and well today, with leaders who really are pastors.

The Best Fears of Our Lives (by Russell Moore, Touchstone)

According to the Sacramento Bee’s report,“Parents experience significantly higher levels of depression than grown-ups who don’t have children.”

I still thought I was okay, since I’m a reasonably happy man. That is, until I saw the definition of the problem. According to theBee:“The researchers suggest that worry is a lifelong cost of having children.” And don’t think it gets better when they leave the house: “Parents of grown children (whether they live at home or have moved out) and parents without custody of minor children exhibit more signs of depression than other parents.”

Motherhood Is a Calling (And Where Your Children Rank) (by Rachel Jankovic)

Everywhere you go, people want to talk about your children. Why you shouldn’t have had them, how you could have prevented them, and why they would never do what you have done. They want to make sure you know that you won’t be smiling anymore when they are teenagers. All this at the grocery store, in line, while your children listen.

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This second trailer for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2” is simply stunning and it’s an excellent example of why we highly anticipate and watch movies. Think about the themes displayed here as you watch.

 

This trailer gives me the chills. It’s very well done. Seeing loved ones long gone? Eternal life? Good versus overwhelming evil? Laying down one’s life for a greater cause? The final battle? There is a reason this trailer has the effect it does and it’s not merely because of the special effects and the music but the storylines presented. That’s where the chills come from. That’s a story I want to be a part of. That’s a story that will get me out of bed in the morning. That’s a war worth fighting. Even if you detest the Harry Potter franchise, you should appreciate why so many gravitate towards it.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:10-13)

Think about one other reason why you probably like this trailer. For us Harry Potter fans, we know how it ends! Does that remove the tension or the effect? Not in the least, but it brings hope that taints all of this series. You would not watch if you thought Voldemort would win.

Enjoy the trailer and enjoy the movie when it comes out on July 15th but do not be deceived. Artists can only stray so far from the metanarrative themes of the gospel and from truth before it gets pretty boring and empty. Don’t just be stoked to see the movie; in Christ you have the choice to actually live it.

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There are a load of decent films coming out on DVD in March and April. Be aware that the release date is the date you can purchase the film and may not correspond to when the film is released on Netflix or Redbox.

UPDATE (3/9/11)

127 Hours (March 1)

This is the story of the climber in Colorado who had to cut off his own hand (on which a boulder was sitting) and then trek back over 127 hours. I have heard a lot of good things about this movie and I really like James Franco as an actor (City by the Sea is one of my favorites) so I’ll likely give this a shot on DVD. It’s rated R for language and gruesomeness.

UPDATE (5/5/11)

I finally saw this film and Franco is amazing. I appreciate the direction that Danny Boyle takes with this movie and how Franco just executes it to perfection. I felt the duration and desperation with him. Definitely pretty gruesome but it’s in there because you have to understand the pain and fight to live. 

Hereafter (March 15)

This film, directed by Clint Eastwood, is currently pretty low on the Tomato Meter but I think this film is worth the view. Don’t look for this film to provide hope in the afterlife, instead look at it from the perspective of each of the main characters’ loneliness and let yourself ache with them. Then read my other thoughts.

The Fighter (March 15)

This is a film that I have not seen and have heard mixed reviews from friends. The consensus: Christian Bale is phenomenal as Wahlberg’s drug addicted brother and trainer. Be aware of a ton of crude language and inferred sex scenes.

UPDATE (3/9/11)

I saw this movie in the theater last week and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The language is poor and there is one not completely nude scene that it could do without (easy to fast forward through) but if you can handle the language, it’s worth checking out on DVD. Bale is simply incredible. Parts of the movie have a documentary feel corresponding to the doc made about crack addiction that included Dicky and Bale is so believable. He draws out such ache for his character as well as anger. His two key moments of brokenness over sin hit me hard and were worth the view.

I love the imperfection in how these true life people are portrayed. It’s a great story of turnaround but it’s not easy and always tainted. You want certain characters to change and repent and they never fully do. But I loved how these 2 brothers stick with each other no matter what. It made me miss my brother and my first thought walking out of the movie was to send him a quick note. I love how they respect their mom even when she doesn’t deserve it, at times when I wanted her to get a nice upper cut. I wished Micky were less passive. I wished Dicky were less selfish. But isn’t that life? The impact of the sin of each character is not diminished but their love for each other isn’t either. Love covers a multitude of sins. Change happens when justification and acceptance in your family isn’t questioned. That isn’t the gospel but it’s certainly an illustration of our place in Christ.

Skyline (March 22)

I have not seen this film and only mention it for one reason: the consensus is that this is an awful film. It takes a true piece of trash to get only a 21% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes and friends have all said stay away from this one.

Tangled (March 29)

Friends that have seen this all seem to have enjoyed it. It still looks borderline for kids though, at least the age of my kids (6 and under).

Tron Legacy (April 5)

I still haven’t even seen the original Tron from ‘80s and this one looks just as predictable but with much cooler effects. See James Harleman’s thoughts on this film for a good analysis.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader (April 8th)

Yes, it veers away from C.S. Lewis’ classic and, yes, they add a significant plotline that was not in the book but my wife and I still enjoyed it for what it is. The end is worth the movie and Will Poulter as Eustace was incredible. I wanted to see more of Eustace and I will be thoroughly stoked for The Silver Chair if Poulter reprises his role.

Harry Potter – Deathly Hallows Part 1 (April 15)

This movie is what it is. If you’ve read the series you’ll likely see the movie. People have complained about the pace of the movie but those folks probably haven’t read the book. The pace is one of the things that makes this movie great – it supposed to make you ache for the end. I wanted to write more on this whole series but I’m saving it until the last film is released this summer.

The King’s Speech (April 19)

This is the best film of the year period. I don’t care how it ends up doing at the Oscars (measured against 2010 films). It’s well acted, well paced, emotionally engaging, and it glorifies good things. Read my review and watch this film.

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