Sunday, March 20, 2011

An Invitation to Another World

"Yeh don' know what yeh are?....Harry - yer a wizard."
--- Hagrid, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Chapter 4

Harry Potter is the boy who lived, yet he didn't have much of a life sleeping in the cupboard under the stairs in horrid aunt and uncle's home. In fact, Harry's future is pretty hopeless - no chance for love, no chance for adventure, no chance for much of anything. He's practically enslaved and stuck in a mundane, abusive life. Then one day a letter changes his life. One day Harry, who knows no one in the world besides his awful family, receives an invitation to a new life and a new identity. That invitation comes in the form of a letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and with the acceptance of that letter, Harry's eyes are opened to a new world beyond his comprehension and a destiny he never could have imagined. Harry is no longer Harry Potter, forgotten and unloved child. He is Harry Potter, a wizard with a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11 reference anyone?). Harry is now a member of a world that is magically set apart. The wizarding world becomes his true home yet he still lives in the Muggle world.

What a telling reminder to us that we are not true citizens of this world. Once we accept Christ, we are called out of our mundane, hopeless lives into a citizenship in Heaven and called with a purpose to fulfill our destinies He has planned for us. God invites us to step out of our cupboards under the stairs and join him in a life more wonderful than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). He'll stop at nothing to find his way into our hearts and show us a glimpse of who we can be in Him...just as no boarded up mail slot prevents those letters from finding Harry. He always knows just where to find us, and He meets us right where we are whether it's in a mundane dead-end existence at 4 Privet Drive or in the middle of a dark storm in a tiny shack by the sea with the waters rising. Still, those letters find Harry, and in the end, all he has to do to begin his new life is accept what Hagrid tells him - that he's a wizard. All we have to do to begin our new lives in Christ is accept that we are His bought at a price and devote ourselves to following Him. That's only the beginning of the journey, as Harry soon discovers too, but it's the first step in the transition from the boy who lived to the boy who really lives.

Pen Strokes in the Wonderful World of Harry Potter

It seems like ages ago that I first picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone mostly to see what all the hype was about. My sister and I were both in high school, and for those of you who knew Staci and me then, I was far more a bookworm than she was (She's warmed up to books since then.), but ironically it was her copy I picked up. A friend of hers had told her it was a great read, and I had heard through the grapevine of the Potter buzz, so after she had finished it (or maybe even before she finished it...I'm fuzzy on the details), I decided to give this Harry Potter character a try even if it was written for "kids" and would surely be below my (what I thought at the time was a beyond-my-years) reading level maturity. At the risk of sounding completely ridiculous and exaggerated, I had no idea this series would literally change my view of literature.

Before you go thinking, "Here's another one of those crazy Harry Potter nuts," let me elaborate. Undoubtedly, I connect with this series on so many levels (It basically took me one book to realize I AM Hermione Granger haha.), but for the purposes of what I'm planning for my blog in the coming months, I'll focus mostly on the redeeming spiritual themes in Harry Potter. Yes, that's right. I said spiritual themes in Harry Potter, and I'll take it a step further and say there are down-right Christian themes in Harry Potter if you open your mind enough to see them. It saddens my heart to see so-called Christians openly bashing the series for its references to witchcraft and evil. Although most of those people have probably never even READ the books (GRRR...don't get me started on this), my focus will not be to fight fire with fire. Instead, I'd like to discuss how you can actually see glimpses of God in this series.

While I grew up on The Chronicles of Narnia (which is also dear to my heart), I knew it was blatantly allegorical, written by a man who is undoubtedly Christian and intended for the series to draw children (and adults) closer to God, but until Harry Potter entered my life, I had never really realized that you can see God in "secular" literature. The more I delved into the series, the more I found snapshots of God's character and references to the Christian walk. I hope to share those with you here in the coming months, and I hope that you too can start to see Him in literature that is not specifically "Christian" and that you may see a new side of the wonderful wizarding world of Harry Potter.

I may go chronologically through the books, skip around, or focus on characters depending on what I feel like sharing at the moment. I'm currently listening through the audiobooks while I run, so I might end up sharing my latest treadmill epiphany at times as well. ;) I've also read (and have on my to-read stack) a few good books on the subject too. Check this out if you want to do some reading on your own:
  • Looking for God in Harry Potter by John Granger
  • What's a Christian to Do with Harry Potter? by Connie Neal
  • God, the Devil, and Harry Potter: A Christian Minister's Defense of the Beloved Novels by John Killinger

Sunday, March 13, 2011

All Things New

*I dedicate this blog post to Kathryn Taylor, who recently admonished me for being a slacker blogger and thus inspired me to write tonight. Love you, Kat!* ;)

You've probably heard me say this before, but there's something about the changing of the seasons that always refocuses my heart on God...especially the change from winter to spring. It never ceases to amaze me how every year bare, sleeping trees know exactly when to wake up and start growing leaves again. If that's not evidence of a Creator, I don't know what is. Who else could make new life spring from a cold slumber? It's such a refreshing reminder that when we go through those wintry phases of life or that when winter storms blow through our lives, He can always make spring come again...but in His time. I have to remember that without the coldest winter nights, it would be difficult to truly appreciate beautiful, bright spring mornings. I'm so glad that God can use every season of nature and life to teach me more about who He is. When you see the daffodils start to peek out of the ground this spring, take a moment to thank the One who orchestrated them.