September 2011 - Vol. 52..

by P.M. Graham
I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone at age 10 and finished The Deathly Hallows aged 19. With each book I experienced a phenomenon that millions of my peers can relate to: I wished this was happening to me.

What is so attractive about Rowling’s universe? There is more here than just magic. At Hogwarts friends are good-humored and loyal. Speech is seldom malicious. Cursing is rare and sexuality is innocent. Hogwarts is a near-utopian teen community: fun, fascinating people, adventure and a sense of purpose.

The premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, that I attended, was packed with teens in costume – mostly generic costumes not based on a single character, but simply Hogwarts' school uniforms and wizard's robes. The people who dressed up for the premier aren't interested, for the most part, in being Harry, Hermione, or any specific character. They want to be themselves, but themselves in that world, a world where strength of character is valued, where good and evil are still seen to exist, and where there is a battle worth the fight.

As one who grew up in Gen-Y, Hogwarts – as much as Middle Earth and Narnia – awakened in me an ideal of nobility. Like Frodo or Peter, Harry is a strong yet clearly flawed young man. Nonetheless, he accepts with courage and growing self-knowledge the fierce challenge placed before him.

Then, as a 19-year-old, I was whisked away into another world – a Christian one. I discovered the excitement of radical discipleship and a difficult mission, and the support of a community of true friends. But this was in the real world. I was ready to put away the things of a child, to move from fantasy into reality.

As one who now works with youth, I see value in things that inspire magnanimity, that longing to be a hero who serves with a band of brothers to accomplish a great purpose. Millions of Harry Potter youth have now had the noble-ideal seed sown in them. Let’s hope that the Hogwarts Express might carry them from the world of fantasy into the real world of Christian mission and community.

Paul Michael (PM) Graham, from the Community of the Risen Christ in Glasgow, Scotland, graduated from the University of Glasgow with a degree in English Literature in summer 2010. He recently finished a year of GAP service for the Work of Christ Community and University Christian Outreach in Lansing, Michigan, US.
(c) copyright 2011  The Sword of the Spirit
publishing address: Park Royal Business Centre, 9-17 Park Royal Road, Suite 108, London NW10 7LQ, United Kingdom