Harry Potter

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Owl Post 2-17-12

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Exclusive: Read J.K. Rowling’s new post for the latest Harry Potter ‘gossip’

550w_movies_harry_potter_epilogue_4Can’t get enough of Harry Potter? Then this is for you. Since March, best-selling author J. K. Rowling has been writing original stories about the imaginary 2014 Quidditch World Cup Finals for Pottermore, the online home for the world of Harry Potter. 

Rowling shared her latest Pottermore.com story exclusively with TODAY.com. Written in the voice of the fictional Daily Prophet’s gossip correspondent Rita Skeeter, this post centers around the reunion of Harry Potter and his friends at the Quidditch World Cup Finals. Click here for the new Harry Potter Story 

For Taylor Swift, the Future of Music Is a Love Story

taylor-swift-red-largeWhere will the music industry be in 20 years, 30 years, 50 years?

Before I tell you my thoughts on the matter, you should know that you’re reading the opinion of an enthusiastic optimist: one of the few living souls in the music industry who still believes that the music industry is not dying…it’s just coming alive

Gbj6CRxJustice’ is served with another helping of Superman

Who’s better, Superman or Batman? Zack Snyder doesn’t have to choose a favorite since he’s getting to put both on the big screen at the same time.

The director of last year’s Man of Steel doubles down on A-list superheroes in his follow-up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (in theaters May 6, 2016), teaming a returning Henry Cavill as the big guy in the cape and “S” on his chest with Ben Affleck as the latest cinematic incarnation of the Dark Knight.

Europe Is Starting to Take American Soccer Seriously (Seriously!)

article-2594795-1CC15A9B00000578-590_634x457Did American soccer just win the football world’s respect?

The World Cup is over for the U.S.A. after a heartbreaking loss to Belgium. But that defeat made for what some regard as perhaps the best match of a tournament that has thrilled from the start. More importantly, the U.S. has been called a “world-class team” by the likes of Barry Glendenning, the ever-critical football writer from The Guardian. Glendenning is perhaps not the Supreme Leader of Football (that title belongs to Sepp Blatter), but he is near the epicenter of international football, and he does not compliment teams lightly.

The real story behind the war over YA novels

91o13sPo7VLFew categories of literature right now seem to receive the level of hatred reserved for young adult fiction, which is the subject of nearly endless editorials on its supposed inanity, excessive sexuality, darkness, and girlyness. It doesn’t escape notice that there’s a strong whiff of sexism underlying the wave of YA hate—the genre is heavily dominated by women, and female authors can recount their experiences with sexism first hand.

Coming Out as a Christian

social-mediaI’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to live transparently—especially when it comes to my digital life. For as long as I’ve been on social media (I first joined Facebook in 2005), I’ve oscillated between expressing myself honestly and expressing contrived personas that I broadcast on Twitter, Instagram, and everywhere else.

Take, for instance, my well-documented love of Rolling Rock. Anyone who follows me on any website knows I’ve posted endlessly about the famously watery beer for the past three years. My Instagram feed was once a veritable shrine to Rolling Rock. My friends gave me four cases of it for my birthday last year. Heck, my Twitter fan club (yes, it’s still weird to me, too) uses a picture of Rolling Rock as its header image! I know how to advertise my love for a product.

Owl Post 12-4-13

Owl Post: 2-3-2012

In Defense of Katniss Everdeen:

risa-rodils-catching-fireCatching Fire, the second film in The Hunger Games trilogy, has set theater records, and like its predecessor, it’s an impressive, gritty film. Suzanne Collins wrote a gripping series of young-adult novels, and the film adaptations have been well cast and well directed, especially the choice of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, the film’s star and protagonist. Lawrence manages to easily embody both Katniss’s tenacity and also her youthful ignorance at the high-stakes politics of her situation.

Why Harry Potter is Great Literature:

harry-potter-series-books-7I enjoy spending time with people who appreciate great literature. The number of my friends who are intimate with Dante or Tolkien or Austen is, as Oscar Wilde would say with a wink, “considerably above the proper average that statistics have laid down for our guidance.” My book-loving church regularly ships in world-class English professors to give lectures and field the usual round of questions about Peter Jackson’s interpretation of Aragorn and Faramir.

And I’ve noticed that in these circles, it’s often a faux pas to admit that I, like nearly every other Millennial in America, own extremely well-loved copies of all seven Harry Potter books. And I would lose all credibility with many of these people if I suggested offhand that I think the Potter books are in the tradition of the great English novels, deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence, and are easily the most morally and socially insightful works of fantasy published in this generation.

The Real Truth about ‘Boring’ Men:

10298738-silhouette-of-a-man-on-a-mountainSo not every guy proposes with lip syncingrolling cameras, and a choreographed entourage.

Yeah —  so what if  your Dad didn’t?

He just pulled that beat-up Volkswagon Rabbit of his over in front of Murray Reesor’s hundred acre farm right there where Grey Township meets Elma Township, pulled out a little red velvet box, and whispered it in the snowy dark: “Marry me?”

How Doctor Who Survived 50 Years:

Untitled-1When it started in 1963, Doctor Who should not have succeeded. A committee created it, to fill a time slot. It had a small budget. The BBC intended for it to be a children’s educational show focusing on science and history. Oh, and it debuted the night after John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

And yet it worked, as seen in the incredible hype preceding Saturday’s 50th anniversary special—an extra-long, star-filled special called “The Day of the Doctor.”

Gospel-Centered Sex?

I recently read an article from a prominent blogger on the subject of the new “gospel-centered” emphasis in books. He commented on various books that applied the gospel to every area of life from the ivory towers of theology, to the mom caught up in the chaos of home and family. One quote at the end of his blog got me thinking: There is not yet a “Gospel-Centered Sex” book; however, it is probably on the way and may well be very helpful! If a couple consistently applies the implications of the gospel to the marriage bed, they will inevitably have a healthier marriage.”

How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home:

Every Imperfect and Normal Family wants their kids to turn out right. So, we establish goals for character development and try to create an environment where our kids can mature. Church, school, sports teams, family relationships… each of these provides a context where our kids can learn to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Too many times, (Christian) parents have it as their goal to make their kids good and moral. It is as if the entire purpose of their family’s spiritual life is to shape their children into law-abiding citizens who stay out of trouble. The only problem with this goal is that it runs in stark contrast to what the Bible teaches. The gospel is not about making bad people moral, but about making dead people alive. If we teach morality without the transforming power of the gospel and the necessity of a life fully surrendered to God’s will, then we are raising moral pagans.

Stopping An Affair Before It Begins:

At one time or another, most of us witnessed the devastation that comes through infidelity in marriage. We have seen marriages stretched almost to the breaking point and we have seen marriages destroyed by an unfaithful husband or unfaithful wife.

Affairs do not begin with sex. Falling into bed with a man who is not your husband or a woman who is not your wife is simply one step in a long chain of events, one decision in a long series of poor decisions.

J.J. Abrams at TED in 2007: The Mystery Box

Best Books I Read in 2012

The other day I gave my top ten films of 2012 and so I decided that I should do much the same for books. I love to read and this year read over 70 books. This list will not just be new books even though there are quite a few, some of them are also books that I have just finally gotten around to reading. I am going to rank them, but they should not be considered less if they are lower on the list. Each of these books is the top 9 out of over 70, not bad.

The_Fault_in_Our_Stars9. The Fault in Our Starts

John Green knows how to write. This book is not just for teens, it is for anyone that likes a good story that is not afraid to ask big questions. Hazel and Augustus struggles with mortality and the ultimate questions will leave you teary all while pondering the final questions yourself. Good books should always leave you thinking about something important and Green is not afraid to have his readers do just that.

 

0615_superman-book8. Superman: The High-Flying History of the Man of Steel

Ever since I was a child, Superman has captured my attention in a way no other superhero has. A man that is all powerful and yet, in the end, is forced to hide himself, his true self from everyone was actually very relatable to me (not the all-powerful part). Larry Tye has written the best book on the history of Superman, from conception of an idea to the new 52. Tye delves into the background of his creators as well as the ways in which Superman has reflected the generations to which he has been written; each generation getting the Superman that they need. For all those who have never liked Superman or if you have always been a fan, this is the book for you. Everyone who reads this will walk away with a deeper appreciation for the Man of Steel and all that he has stood for. Tye sums up the longevity of Superman well when he writes, “Our longest-lasting hero will endure as long as we need a champion, which should be until the end of time.”  My full review is here.

20110511_Jacobspleasurescover7. The Pleasure of Reading in an Age of Distraction

This is the first book that I have read about reading and it was well worth it. In a short 162 pages, Jacobs helps us understand the plight of reading in the 21st century. With the proliferation of technology in our lives and the distractions that it brings, reading is something that has fallen by the wayside. Instead of telling readers what they should be reading, Jacobs says read for whimsy. Read what you like. This is a long quote from an interview that Jacobs did, but is helps explain what he means,

Where this really got started was with the many, many students who have come to me over the years after graduating from Wheaton. And they think, Oh, there are so many important books I haven’t read. They come to many teachers, but I get my fair share of them. They come to me and say, “Give me 10 books that I should read over the next year.” Or: “Give me 10 books that you think everyone should read.” I always find myself thinking, Read what you want to read. Since you were 6 years old you’ve been reading things that people told you to read. Now you don’t have to do that anymore, unless you’re going to graduate school. Go out and read what strikes you as being fun.

I don’t think these students trust themselves to be readers on their own. They want to continue the sort of reading under direction that they have experienced ever since they started school. Over the years I’ve gotten absolutely stiff-necked about it. I refuse to give any recommendations. I say, “Go and read for fun,” because that sense of reading as a duty is not going to carry you through. It’s not going to sustain you as a vibrant reader, as you will be if you read what gives you delight. You may have actually lost some of that sense of delight over the years reading primarily for school. So go out there and have fun with it.

What will happen when people do that? Will they read frivolous things? Yes—at least I certainly hope so. I quote W. H. Auden, who says that the great masterpieces should be reserved for the “high holidays of the spirit.” You’re not designed for a steady diet of literary masterpieces any more than you would eat a seven-course French meal every day. At one point, Auden says it’s not only permissible but admirable not always to be in the mood for Dante. And I think that’s right. Sometimes you just want a lighter fare.

Auden himself liked detective stories and doggerel poetry and other things that many of his peers would have looked down their noses at. I want people to recover that sense of pleasure. Of course you’re going to want the heavier stuff. You’re going to want the stuff that’s possibly life-changing. But for heaven’s sake, don’t turn reading into a matter of eating your literary vegetables. I don’t think that’s healthy in the long run.

What I also really appreciated about his book is that he praises what Kindles, Nooks and iPads are doing for reading. Each of these devices are making it easier for people to read more often and for longer periods of time. Instead of carrying around bulky copies Anna Karenina or The Iliad, now they are stored in light-weight devices that also have built in dictionaries, enabling longer reading sessions in more places.

So pick up this short little book and be inspired to read all the more in 2013!

the-great-divorce6. The Great Divorce

Every year I try to read at least one C.S. Lewis book that I have not read before. The Great Divorce is a short book about people from hell visiting the outer regions of heaven. Each person that visits has a different reaction to this new place. Lewis’ keen insight into the human condition is on full display here. This is a challenge to read, there are many points you may find yourself in one or more of the characters and their excuses, but this makes it an important read. Start the new year off right and see what path you are on. For more on The Great Divorce go here.

when-i-was-a-child-i-read-books5. When I Was a Child I Read Books

Marilynne Robinson is one of my best-loved authors, her books Gilead and Home are on the top of my list of all-time favorites. Her newest collection of essays is well worth the read. She talks about America, religion, science, literature and more, weaving together a diverse set of thinkers and philosophers with ease. This is a short book and yet dense enough that it needs to be digested slowly and with a pen for notes and underlines. Accept this challenge in 2013, it is worth the effort. For good taste of her writing go here.

the narnian4. The Narnian

I own my voracious reading appetite to C.S. Lewis and his Narnia books. As a young boy I really did not enjoy reading and when I did I read non-fiction. After reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe that all changed. Alan Jacobs has written a masterful book on the life of Lewis. This is not an exhaustive biography but a focused look at his life and how he came to write the beloved children’s series. Jacobs shows how Lewis’ experiences as a boy telling stories with his brother to his deep, life-changing friendship with Tolkien, each gave him a pieces to the puzzle that would become Narnia. This needs to be on your reading list fo 2013! My full review is here.

134978183. The Casual Vacancy

No writer has had more to live up to than J.K. Rowling with the release of her first novel post Harry Potter and no book could have been more different. Rowling weaves a tale of a small British town with the intricacy of Austen and the modern sensibility of McEwan all while challenging our notions of social justice. This is an important book on the level of novels like To Kill a Mockingbird; so if you missed it last year, read it in 2013. My full review is here.

12ExplicitGospel_L_8590274382. The Explicit Gospel   

2012 has seen a flood of gospel oriented books and I read quite a few of them, but Chandler’s book was at the top of the list. God has used the preaching of Matt Chandler and now his book to open up the truth of the gospel in new and life-changing ways for me. Understanding and thinking about the ultimate questions of the universe is the most important thing a person can do, so spend some time on that this year. I cannot recommend a book more to you for 2013! My full review is here.

riseofteddyroosevelt21. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

This is the first book in Edmund Morris’ trilogy on Teddy Roosevelt and it is fantastic. There is never a dull moment in this book so do not let the length dishearten you. Spending time getting to know one of the most interesting and influential men in American history was one of the highlights of my year. Roosevelt was forged in the fire of suffering and the American ideal. He will leave you captivated and inspired even when you might not always agree with his sensibilities. I am looking forward to reading the next two books in 2013.

What did you enjoy reading in 2012? Let me know, leave me a comment so I can add it to my list!

Fairies, Tolkien and Eucatastrophe

J.R. Vassar, a pastor in New York City, was talking about the resurrection of Christ last Sunday.He brought up this idea from Tolkien of eucatastrophe (if you are not sure what this means, Tolkien will explain it in the quote below). The happy turn in the story recorded in the Gospels is the rise of Christ from the dead and the defeat of death and sin. This is not just some story though; it is the pinnacle of all history, the turning point of the entire universe. This is what changes everything.

This quote from Tolkien’s essay titled, “On Fairy Stories” has taught me a lot. It really resonates with me on why so many people around the world are drawn to books or movies like Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, Braveheart and so many others. There is a reason we all like a good story; good vs. evil, where the heroes win and the bad guy gets their due. G.K. Chesterton said, “The life of man is a story; an adventure story; and in our vision the same is true even of the story of God.” There are still more stories to tell and the best ones are those that point to the most mythic and truest of them all.

And lastly there is the oldest and deepest desire, the Great Escape: the Escape from Death. Fairy-stories provide many examples and modes of this—which might be called the genuine escapist, or (I would say) fugitive spirit. But so do other stories (notably those of scientific inspiration), and so do other studies. Fairy-stories are made by men not by fairies. The Human-stories of the elves are doubtless full of the Escape from Deathlessness. But our stories cannot be expected always to rise above our common level. They often do. Few lessons are taught more clearly in them than the burden of that kind of immortality, or rather endless serial living, to which the “fugitive” would fly. For the fairy-story is specially apt to teach such things, of old and still today. Death is the theme that most inspired George MacDonald.

But the “consolation” of fairy-tales has another aspect than the imaginative satisfaction of ancient desires. Far more important is the Consolation of the Happy Ending. Almost I would venture to assert that all complete fairy-stories must have it. At least I would say that Tragedy is the true form of Drama, its highest function; but the opposite is true of Fairy- story. Since we do not appear to possess a word that expresses this opposite—I will call it Eucatastrophe. The eucatastrophic tale is the true form of fairy-tale, and its highest function.

The consolation of fairy-stories, the joy of the happy ending: or more correctly of the good catastrophe, the sudden joyous “turn” (for there is no true end to any fairy-tale): this joy, which is one of the things which fairy-stories can produce supremely well, is not essentially “escapist,” nor “fugitive.” In its fairy-tale—or otherworld—setting, it is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur. It does not deny the existence of dyscatastrophe, of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.

It is the mark of a good fairy-story, of the higher or more complete kind, that however wild its events, however fantastic or terrible the adventures, it can give to child or man that hears it, when the “turn” comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen as that given by any form of literary art, and having a peculiar quality.

Even modern fairy-stories can produce this effect sometimes. It is not an easy thing to do; it depends on the whole story which is the setting of the turn, and yet it reflects a glory backwards. A tale that in any measure succeeds in this point has not wholly failed, whatever flaws it may possess, and whatever mixture or confusion of purpose. It happens even in Andrew Lang’s own fairy-story, Prince Prigio, unsatisfactory in many ways as that is. When “each knight came alive and lifted his sword and shouted ‘long live Prince Prigio,’ ” the joy has a little of that strange mythical fairy-story quality, greater than the event described. It would have none in Lang’s tale, if the event described were not a piece of more serious fairy- story “fantasy” than the main bulk of the story, which is in general more frivolous, having the half-mocking smile of the courtly, sophisticated Conte. Far more powerful and poignant is the effect in a serious tale of Faërie. In such stories when the sudden “turn” comes we get a piercing glimpse of joy, and heart’s desire, that for a moment passes outside the frame, rends indeed the very web of story, and lets a gleam come through.

“Seven long years I served for thee,
The glassy hill I clamb for thee,
The bluidy shirt I wrang for thee,
And wilt thou not wauken and turn to me?”

He heard and turned to her.

Epilogue

This ”joy” which I have selected as the mark of the true fairy-story (or romance), or as the seal upon it, merits more consideration.

Probably every writer making a secondary world, a fantasy, every sub-creator, wishes in some measure to be a real maker, or hopes that he is drawing on reality: hopes that the peculiar quality of this secondary world (if not all the details) are derived from Reality, or are flowing into it. If he indeed achieves a quality that can fairly be described by the dictionary definition: “inner consistency of reality,” it is difficult to conceive how this can be, if the work does not in some way partake of reality. The peculiar quality of the ”joy” in successful Fantasy can thus be explained as a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth. It is not only a “consolation” for the sorrow of this world, but a satisfaction, and an answer to that question, “Is it true?” The answer to this question that I gave at first was (quite rightly): “If you have built your little world well, yes: it is true in that world.” That is enough for the artist (or the artist part of the artist). But in the “eucatastrophe” we see in a brief vision that the answer may be greater—it may be a far-off gleam or echo of evangelium in the real world. The use of this word gives a hint of my epilogue. It is a serious and dangerous matter. It is presumptuous of me to touch upon such a theme; but if by grace what I say has in any respect any validity, it is, of course, only one facet of a truth incalculably rich: finite only because the capacity of Man for whom this was done is finite.

I would venture to say that approaching the Christian Story from this direction, it has long been my feeling (a joyous feeling) that God redeemed the corrupt making-creatures, men, in a way fitting to this aspect, as to others, of their strange nature. The Gospels contain a fairy- story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories. They contain many marvels—peculiarly artistic, beautiful, and moving: “mythical” in their perfect, self- contained significance; and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe. But this story has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of sub-creation has been raised to the fulfillment of Creation. The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the “inner consistency of reality.” There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many sceptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath.

It is not difficult to imagine the peculiar excitement and joy that one would feel, if any specially beautiful fairy-story were found to be “primarily” true, its narrative to be history, without thereby necessarily losing the mythical or allegorical significance that it had possessed. It is not difficult, for one is not called upon to try and conceive anything of a quality unknown. The joy would have exactly the same quality, if not the same degree, as the joy which the “turn” in a fairy-story gives: such joy has the very taste of primary truth. (Otherwise its name would not be joy.) It looks forward (or backward: the direction in this regard is unimportant) to the Great Eucatastrophe. The Christian joy, the Gloria, is of the same kind; but it is preeminently (infinitely, if our capacity were not finite) high and joyous. But this story is supreme; and it is true. Art has been verified. God is the Lord, of angels, and of men—and of elves. Legend and History have met and fused.

But in God’s kingdom the presence of the greatest does not depress the small. Redeemed Man is still man. Story, fantasy, still go on, and should go on. The Evangelium has not abrogated legends; it has hallowed them, especially the “happy ending.” The Christian has still to work, with mind as well as body, to suffer, hope, and die; but he may now perceive that all his bents and faculties have a purpose, which can be redeemed. So great is the bounty with which he has been treated that he may now, perhaps, fairly dare to guess that in Fantasy he may actually assist in the effoliation and multiple enrichment of creation. All tales may come true; and yet, at the last, redeemed, they may be as like and as unlike the forms that we give them as Man, finally redeemed, will be like and unlike the fallen that we know.

There are so many places that this is seen in the books we read and the movies we watch; what are your favorites?

Pastor JR Vassar’s sermon

Books That Have Made a Difference

I saw this idea on another blog and as all good bloggers, I am going to steal it. There have been may books that I have read that have shaped me in life and more importantly furthered my faith. This is not an exhaustive list and I hope that you will comment and leave your favorites (This way I can add to my reading list, not that I need too since mine is miles long at the moment).

 

 

Fiction:

  • The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis (I owe my love of reading to this series)
  • Harry Potter Series – JK Rowling
  • The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell
  • Children of God – Mary Doria Russel
  • Home – Marilynne Robinson
  • The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Space Trilogy – C.S. Lewis
  • Gilead – Marilynne Robinson
  • The Picture of Dorian Grey – Oscar Wilde
  • The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis
  • Fahrenheit 451 – Ray BradburyMiller
  • East of Eden – John Steinbeck
  • The Road – Cormac  McCarthy

Christian Classics:

  • Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis
  • The Weight of Glory – C.S. Lewis
  • The Abolition of Man – C.S. Lewis
  • The Ragamuffin Gospel – Brennan Manning
  • Don’t Waste Your Life – John Piper
  • Christian Theology – Millard Erikson

Memoirs:

  • The Confessions – St. Augustine
  • Blue Like Jazz – Donald Miller
  • A Severe Mercy – Sheldon Vanauken

Christian Life and Though:

  • The Reason for God – Timothy Keller
  • Fathered by God – John Eldredge
  • Gospel – JD Greear
  • Jesus+Nothing = Everything – Tullian Tchividjian
  • The Meaning of Marriage – Timothy Keller
  • Searching for God Knows What – Donald Miller
  • Celebration of Discipline –  Richard Foster
  • Prodigal  God - Timothy Keller
  • The Book of Romance –  Tommy Nelson
  • A Tale of Three Kings – Gene Edwards
  • Counterfeit Gods – Timothy Keller
  • The Christian Atheist - Craig Groeschel
  • King’s Cross – Timothy Keller
  • Crazy Love – Francis Chan
  • Waking the Dead – John Eldredge
  • Generous Justice – Timothy Keller
  • A Million Miles in a Thousand Years – Donald Miller
  • One Thousand Gifts – Ann Voskamp
  • Longing to Know - Esther Lightcap Meek
Lastly, this is not a book, but they have had such an impact on me for so many years I would be remiss if I did not mention them; Caedmon’s Call. This band has been my constant companion for the struggles and joys of life. Their honest, real-life lyrics have sustained and fed me in the darkest of moments. Each album has had an impact and is a mile-marker for me. I can pull out any of them and have it speak to me anew; this is due the weight of the lyrics and the timelessness of the music. So I encourage you to check them out listen with an attentive ear.
There are most likely so many books I have left out; what would you add to the list and why?

Harry Potter, Easter and the Passion of the Christ

“Harry understood at last that he was not supposed to survive. His job was to walk calmly into Death’s welcoming arms.”

Harry willfully walks in the the embrace of death to protect those he loves. He surrenders himself to his destiny and in the end defeats death by death. He has a choice, he could run, but he gives himself freely for the greater good.

As I was sitting in church today, I was thinking about this scene from Harry Potter over and over again. Some people might think it strange that I would be thinking about a movie while sitting in church, so I will explain why. The sermon today was all about surrender. The pastor talked about Jesus and how his whole life was nothing but surrender. First he surrendered his place in heaven to come to earth as a human. Then, he surrendered his comfort to grow up and live his life in the backwoods of the Roman empire, not really heaven on earth. And most importantly, he surrendered his life to the will of the Father and gave himself up to be nailed to a cross when he could have called down twelve legions of angels to wipe out all who would dare touch him. Jesus surrenders it all to do what I cannot.  He pays the price for my sin, but he also gives me what I need to change; because here’s the thing about surrender, I can’t do it by myself. The power to lay down myself does not come from me, it comes through the work that Christ does on the cross and the power of his resurrection. Tullian Tchividjian says it like this,

 “Therefore, it’s the gospel (what Jesus has done) that alone can give God-honoring animation to our obedience. The power to obey comes from being moved and motivated by the complete work of Jesus for us. The fuel to do good flows from what’s already been done. So again, while the law directs us, only the gospel can drive us.”

So when it comes to surrendering all to the Father in the way Christ does, I must look to what Christ has done and know it’s not about what I do, but it is about what he has done. Therefore it is through the power of the gospel that I can lay myself aside and follow him with everything I am. I can surrender, because he has already surrendered himself for me, and has given himself as a ransom for many.

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
(Isaiah 53:4-5 ESV)

Out of the Shadows

I love heroes and I love books. I also love what I can learn about life, spiritually and otherwise, from a well written story. If I was a better writer(or thinker), these posts are the kinds of things that I would like to have written. There is so much that we can learn from the world around us if we would just learn to think critically. If I wring out the things that I consume in the world through the filter of a Scriptural worldview, how much might I learn? Thomas Torrance says, 

“It is incumbent upon us, therefore, to relate the actual order we find in the world to the redemptive order which lies at the heart of the Christian message. In the Christian faith we look for a new order in which the damaged order, or the disorder that inexplicably arises in the world, will be healed through a creative reordering of existence as it is reconciled to its ultimate ground in the creative love of God.” 

In beginning to look at the world through this lens, I am introduced to whole new ways to acquire the keys to the kingdom.  God can teach through anything and because of this I have more reasons to praise because his truth is evident in so much more than I have given him credit for, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made…”. Even in comic books and fantasy stories, the light of the truth can shine. What I am seeing is a shadow of the eternal; so I challenge you, where are you seeing a shadow?

This is an amazing look at the Star Wars Saga as a whole and how it can teach us about our relationship with God. I was really blown away by these posts and it has helped me enjoy all six films all the more.





There is not greater series that I have read in the last ten years than Harry Potter. It has been such a force in literature and in film; it is hard to realize that it is over. What has been most fascinating for me to see has been the reaction in the Christian community change in relation to the series. The church is beginning to see how many parallels and lessons that are in Harry mirror what is seen in Scripture. For more on this read,How Harry Cast His Spellby John Granger.
This is a look at the Caped Crusader and the philosophical, historical and theological underpinnings of the character. I read this one before the Superman series and it is what got me hooked and then searching for more, in-depth analysis of my favorite heroes. This is also an ongoing series, so be sure to check back for more!


 

And not to be outdone, the original; Superman. He is my favorite superhero and the one I find people have the hardest time relating to. This unique and complicated hero is the foundation for all superheroes today and has a special connection with those of us in America since he fights for truth, justice and the American way. But what happens when the American way is not the best? 



The Boy Who Lived

The last Harry Potter film has finally come to homes and it has given me a chance to re-watch and think again about the difference between the films and the books. For the most part, I have been able to understand the changes that haven been made for the cinema; but in the last film, the last few minutes, really left out some of the most important elements and themes that, I believe, Rowling has poured into her masterpiece. 

In the movie, Harry goes to the Forbidden forest to meet his doom. He knows that he has been marked for death and has excepted that by his death, others might survive. Harry knows he has been kept alive to die at the right time. So Harry dies, but as we all know, he comes back and defeats Voldemort for good. The main problem is that the movie lacks all the nuances that makes Harry’s death so important. Harry’s death, in the book, means so much more than a final showdown and the end of an evil person. Harry’s death stands in for something deeper and much more mythic than just defeating the “bad guy”. This was the place where the film fails its source material and audience the most. 
“Harry understood at last that he was not supposed to survive. His job was to walk calmly into Death’s welcoming arms.” In the book Harry calmly walks into the forest and faces death. It is in this moment that he does the one thing that Voldemort could never do, face death and not be afraid. Harry has learned that there are more important things than living and that death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person. In all of Voldemort’s scheming and work to escape death only Harry will become it’s master. Harry goes willingly to death, he sacrifices himself for others, he lays down his life, like his mother, for the good of those he loves. In the end Harry defeats death by death. In the movie, the full affect of Harry’s sacrifice is not seen, and in the end, it does a disservice to all those who watch. 

“And his knowledge remained woefully incomplete, Harry! That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children’s tales, of love loyalty and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he never grasped. ” Rowling goes on to explain this in the final showdown. Harry taunts Voldemort and fully explains his failings and deep misunderstanding of the world around him. Harry’s death has much more meaning than the end to an evil dictator, he has bought life from death. “You won’t be killing anyone else tonight,” said Harry as they circled, and they stared into each others eyes, green into red. “You won’t be able to kill any of them, ever again. Don’t you get it? I was ready to die to stop you hurting these people-” 

“But you did not!”

“-I meant to, and that’s what did it. I’ve done what my mother did. They’re protected from you. Haven’t you noticed how none of the spells you put on them are binding? You can’t torture them. You can’t touch them. You don’t learn from your mistakes, Riddle, do you?”

This pivotal moment in the book is missing from the movie and cheapens the power of Harry’s death. Harry’s love is greater and more powerful than Voldemort’s ambition, hate and cruelty. And it is not just Harry’s love, but the love of his mother and Snape that have played Voldemort for a fool. Another moment that leaves a character not as strong as he is in the book is the moment that Harry explains how Snape’s love has made all of this possible. “Severus Snape wasn’t yours,” said Harry. “Snape was Dumbledore’s, Dumbledore’s from the moment you started hunting down my mother. And you never realised it, because of the thing you can’t understand.” 

Voldemort has no understanding or comprehension of love. 
In all this talk of love and the true meaning of death, Rowling is saying something. She is linking her myth with a much more powerful and much “deeper magic” than is seen in the film. J.R.R Tolkien says this about myth, “We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic ‘progress’ leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.” It is in myth making that we can understand the true reality. Tolkien goes on to explain further, 

I would venture to say that approaching the Christian Story from this direction, it has long been my feeling (a joyous feeling) that God redeemed the corrupt making-creatures, men, in a way fitting to this aspect, as to others, of their strange nature. The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories. They contain many marvels—peculiarly artistic, beautiful, and moving: ‘mythical’ in their perfect, self-contained significance; and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe. But this story has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of sub-creation has been raised to the fulfillment of Creation. The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the ‘inner consistency of reality.’ There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many sceptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath.”

 The Apostle Paul speaks of these things that Harry dimly reflects, 

For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
What Rowling has written connects us with something that runs deep and mythic, it points to the greater reality, the meta-narrative that we are all a part of. There is a story that we are all involved in and when we respond to certain works of fiction or a good film it is because it is touching something innate and fundamental to the reality of the world. C.S. Lewis puts it this way, “In the enjoyment of a great myth we come nearest to expressing as a concrete what can otherwise be understood only as an abstraction…It is only while receiving the myth as a story that you experience the principle concretely” While I love the Harry Potter films, in missing this key element, they have taken away the true power of the story, it’s connection with the profound reality of the universe. And I believe this is the reason that so many people, from all walks of life, all over the world have fallen in love with, “the boy who lived”. 
All quotes from “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” from the Bloomsbury edition, 2007