Harry Potter (Part 3) – “The Baby”

Posted: August 14, 2012 by Josh Kwasny in Action, Drama, Family, Fantasy
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Two weeks ago I shared how, over time, I have moved from skeptic (maybe even “hater”) to fan of the Harry Potter series. (The overall story that is, not necessarily the quality of each film.) My desire in telling my story is to illustrate the way in which I believe we ought to view films (or any story) as Christians. I have called it, “The Baby and the Bathwater” approach.

Last week I listed a few of the troubling themes (dirty bathwater) that are included in the story of Harry Potter. There is great wisdom in being able to recognize trouble and avoid it when necessary. We should shine the “light” of the Scriptures on everything so that we can avoid stumbling. The Bible is, after all, called “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

With that understood, I want to confess that I have often been too quick to judge what the light revealed – only looking for the bad or troublesome themes. When it came to Harry Potter, I almost threw out the baby (entire story) out with the dirty bathwater. For example, I recognized the danger of teaching the concept that adults are foolish and children are smart, but I wasn’t patient enough to see that even this concept developed as the entire narrative unfolded.

As I got to the end of the Harry Potter saga, I realized the reason adults seemed generally foolish in the story was because we were reading/watching from the perspective of a child! For the adult reading this, you need just to remember back to middle and high school – when you and I thought that we knew everything or were smart enough to figure everything out ourselves (with the help of our peers, of course.) Oh…maybe that was just me.

Thankfully, maturity comes with growing up (for most people), and our perspective of reality becomes clearer. This is true also with the the story of Harry Potter as he grows up and begins to understand his reality.

BIG SPOILERS AHEAD!! (The story will be better if you don’t read below – trust me. Reading the following may cause you to miss what I think is the best part!.)

You see, as Harry Potter grows up, he begins to realize that his perspective was too narrow (as mine was as a child – and often continues to be). Whiny, Harry Potter with the victim-mentality, begins to mature into a young man who values adult counsel – and even discovers the great virtue of self-sacrifice. Harry Potter actually learns to love others more than himself – even to the point of death (John 15:13)!

One of the great redemptive themes of Harry Potter is that of self-sacrifice. Harry does learn this in the story, but I believe that there is another character that makes Harry Potter truly stand out as a great story of self-sacrifice and love.

His name is Severus Snape.

Snape is one of Harry’s teachers and Harry hates him – loathes him. (Snape isn’t that fond of Harry either – truth be told.) Because we only see Snape through Harry’s eyes, we grow to hate Snape as well – always suspecting him to be behind the troubles that Harry encounters. Harry is unable to believe that Dumbledore’s (the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) unwavering trust in Snape is valid. Snape is pure evil as far as Harry is concerned.

As the narrative approaches its climax, we come to find out that Severus Snape is probably the most selfless character in the whole story! He epitomizes self-sacrifice! Through a series of events, we discover that Snape had always been watching out for Harry. He had continuously put himself in harms way fighting for what was right. Even when Harry was difficult to like, Severus was faithful – doing whatever it took to ensure Harry’s safety and the overall defeat of evil Lord Voldemort.

The story of Harry Potter is the story of Severus Snape – and Severus Snape is a pointer to the ultimate story of the gospel of Jesus Christ! (I know this is blasphemy to some, but I will risk it.)

You see, self-sacrifice is only a virtue because it displays the self-sacrifice of Jesus’ work on the cross. The story of Harry Potter gives us yet another common-grace picture of the cross of Christ – and it does it most profoundly in Severus Snape. Snape’s story of humble self-sacrifice for an often self-righteous, arrogant, immature Harry Potter preaches to my soul. It preaches because it is the story of Jesus!

Philippians 2:5-8 captures Jesus’ humble work.

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

We need to be reminded that you and I did not deserve this great self-sacrificing love. Instead, like Harry Potter, we are all too often immature, self-reliant, defensive, proud, and unwilling to trust others.

Thankfully, the love of God in Jesus Christ is not based upon your and my worthiness to receive it. It is a gift – unmerited and underserved, but freely given.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Pray for eyes to see the gospel in the world around you and courage to point others to the good news that you see.

***For more on the gospel themes in Harry Potter, check out this short video interview with Jerram Baars, professor at Covenant Seminary in St. Louis.

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Comments
  1. charles says:

    re: snape

    being a double agent is a little weird from a moral standpoint, though. especially when it involves actually doing bad things to others to prove your badness…even to the point of killing (even if they really “needed killing.”) kinda goes back to your issues with situational ethics, i guess…

    (also might have been a leeeetle sketchy that snape was still motivated by obsession with a woman who married someone else and had been dead for over 15 years…)

    🙂

  2. emannehblade says:

    I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on the series. I write for a blog that looks for Christian themes in pop culture, too, and so it is encouraging to see others doing the same thing! I especially like how you addressed some of the problematic themes in Harry Potter in your previous post, but went on to look at the bigger picture in this post. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog!

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