Posts Tagged ‘baby’

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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What do I expect from What to Expect When You’re Expecting? Well, I certainly don’t expect to see conscientious husbands and fathers exercising spiritual leadership in the home. What would be the humor in that? And, how would that be reflective of our society anyway (since Hollywood always tells us that they strive to reflect culture in their movies, not promote it)? Therefore, I expect that WTEWYE will have plenty of fathers-to-be acting like idiots, with absolutely very little idea what fatherhood is all about.

Granted, movie trailers don’t always give you the entire story–even though many of them do clip together the extent of the good parts! But the trailer for WTEWYE tells us much about the men in the movie. Specifically, we witness a “dudes group”: a support group for fathers and fathers-to-be. Now, I’m not a big fan of support groups, but I understand why they are popular with so many. It’s comfoting to have the encouragement and counsel of those who are experiencing the same circumstances as you.

Like all most support groups, the dudes group in WTEWYE has a couple of rules. First, what is talked about in the group stays in the group (I know, sounds eerily similar to Vegas). Second, and most importantly: No judging in the dudes group! These two governing principles makes the group a safe place to share and discuss common problems. Sounds fair enough.

But what happens when the group becomes more of the “blind leading the blind” rather than a repository of wisdom and knowledge? For example, one “seasoned” dad gives this advice to a father-to-be: “Stay on the other side (meaning childlessness). This is the side where happiness goes to die.” Definitely a funny line. But is this the encouragement our new fathers need? Obviously not. It is our duty as Christian fathers to communicate that, while fatherhood is really hard work, it is a joyful calling from the LORD! This is just one example that reminds us to be careful of what sort of groups we participate in–that we aren’t really being counseled by fools.

Here are some other great lines from dads in the dudes group: “You dropped your kid off a changing table?” “My kid ate a cigarette!” “I caught him playing in the dryer yesterday.” “I picked up the wrong baby from daycare.” Again, very funny. And, you can see why the two main rules of the support group are so important! What would the wives say if they knew? Remember, no judging!

Don’t get me wrong, we fathers make LOTS of silly (and sometimes serious) mistakes with our children. We are often particularly incompetent when it comes to infants and toddlers. If I catalogued some of my own errors with my babies, this post would become way too long (and much too embarrassing). So the dudes group in WTEWYE is probably a fairly good representation of the modern father.

My problem with the dudes group (in addition to the “blind leading the blind” aspect) is the notion that there should be no judging of one another. But, wait a minute–aren’t the dudes just following Christ’s injunction in Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged”? Even non-Christians throw out this verse to support a view of absolute tolerance of the behaviors of other people. We should allow all people to live their lives, make their own decisions, with no criticism or moral judgment. Besides, the dudes will only be free to share if they feel no condemnation from other dudes, right?

But there is a vast difference between harsh, thoughtless judgmentalness and Biblical judging. One just needs to read the next few verses of Matthew 7 to see this truth. In verse 2, we learn that we will be held to the same standard to which we hold others. In verses 3-4, Jesus describes the hypocrisy of judging someone else’s sin while refusing to looking at our own sins. Then finally, in verse 5 we have these words: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” So Jesus is clearly not forbidding all sorts of judging or even the confronting of others in their sin.

Biblical judgment is essential among dudes (and dudettes) for numerous reasons (I’ll just list three). First, we have a responsibility to live according to God’s Word. We are free in Christ in order to live to please God. Second, we need other people to see our sins and failings due to our own blind spots. Because of our sin, we can’t always see our actions and decisions clearly. And finally, we should recognize that Biblical judging serves as safety and protection from the LORD. If we don’t allow others to confront us in our sins and errors, we will most likely continue in them.

So while I applaud men seeking the help and support of other men, let’s take it to the next level and openly invite one another to level some Biblical judgment!