Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wasted Wednesday: Harry Potter & Community

Many a time I have often asked the question, why is it that the Harry Potter books have resonated so well with me and my life?  Not only do I love these books for their literary and alchemical elements but I also love them because of their spiritual elements.  While many other books have had huge impacts on my life, none have had quite an impact that can compare to Harry Potter.  For the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to immerse myself in all things Harry Potter by listening to podcasts such as Mugglenet Academia (Harry Potter literature discussion) and Alohomora (a global re-read of the books).  On top of listening to Harry Potter podcasts, and literature podcasts in general,
I have also had the opportunity to listen to sermons via podcast from some of the best known speakers including Rob Bell, Matt Chandler, Jeff Bethke, and more.  My brain has been wired on academia these past few weeks and is forcing me to make some awesome connections between what I am listening to and the things in my own life.
I have many theories as to why I love Harry Potter but a realization has recently come to me that I never once considered but now seems fairly obvious.  Community.
The Harry Potter books set up a community for the reader.  A diverse group of individuals unite in one thing - that they can do magic.  Every person seems to be a friend or an acquittance of another.  We see Harry spending time with the Weasley's and feeling like he has a family despite the fact that his family is all gone.  We see people helping each other and standing up for one another and strong bonds growing.  There is gossip and anger.  Kids go out together to drink a pint of butter-beer or play a practical joke or practice a sport.  There is an entire area for kids to shop for candy and goodies at Hogsmeade.  Hogwarts itself is a mini community where kids have the freedom of being away from home and are able to focus on what is important with their friends. And for some odd reason, I feel as if I can relate to this picture completely.  If there is any reason for me wanting to enter Harry's magical world, it is because of the community.  I would love to be apart of the Hogwarts community.
As a kid, this was not the case.  I did not want to go to Hogwarts and often wondered why my peers did want to go.  After all, why would I want to go to a school where there is so much danger lurking about?  And the Wizarding World?  I would never count on going there either.  So how come my perspective has shifted so much?  My only guess is that it is because I have had a similar experience since reading the books as a ten year old.
Reading these books brings me a feeling of nostalgia, partially because they were a huge part of my childhood and a huge part of my adolescence.  But another reason I feel nostalgic is because I feel as if I have already lived similar to Harry.  When I read Harry Potter, the emotions I feel mirror the emotions I felt when I was apart of youth group as a teen.  This is a huge connection as to why I find the books spiritual as well.
Youth group was something I always looked forward to as a teen.  One of the best times I had was when I would go with my fellow teens to church youth camp in Montrose, Pennsylvania.  Although we were only at camp for a week, the experience was very much similar to going away to Hogwarts.  We each were a part of our own cabin, we went away to study the bible with our friends and have fun at the same time, and it felt like we were apart of a big family.  This seems to mirror Hogwarts.  At camp we sometimes groaned when we had to read our bibles but ultimately during that one week over the summer when we were at camp, we found we were happier and more connected to God than ever before.  That is what I think of when I read Harry Potter.  The characters seem connected and I feel that connection to them.  When I read these books, I witness a lot of happy and healthy communities that have many differences and at times negativity and they struggle but they always pull together and are united.  This can teach Christians a lot when it comes to our own communities.

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