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.