23 July 2007

King's Cross

I've finished my first reading of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Good stuff. Kudos to J.K. Rowling for another fine piece of work. I'm gratified to find that I had the big picture more or less figured out, and not disappointed that I missed the mark on some of the important details. I'm looking forward, now, to reading the book aloud to my children, which will not only provide me with some quality "Daddy time," but will also allow me to reflect upon the entire story and all of its intricacies more carefully than I have on my speedy first time through. My youngest children will not yet have the thrill of discovering these things with the rest of the world, but I was thinking today of the joy and satisfaction they will have in reading (or hearing) these books years from now. I stand by what I have said for some time, that the Harry Potter series will find its place among other literary classics.

As I prepare for my interview on "Issues, Etc.," I will probably blog a bit on my thoughts and reflections, especially as I am reading through the story a second time. There are many things I relished as I was reading this weekend, and it will be a pleasure to revisit and savor those experiences. For the time being, the five things that most struck me were the following, listed in chronological order: (1.) The fact that remorse (read repentance) is the only remedy for damage one has done to his soul. (2.) The verses of Holy Scripture inscribed on the tombs of Dumbledore's and Harry's families. (3.) The process of Ron's return, which was, I thought, almost as profound as the dragon-shedding "baptism" in C.S. Lewis's Voyage of the Dawn Treader. (4.) Probably my favorite, that Harry's victorious self-sacrifice lands him at King's Cross! Brilliant. (5.) Harry's preaching of repentance to his enemy, when it finally comes down to it, demonstrating yet again the compassion that he has learned.

All of these were short, poignant moments in the course of a masterful story. Bravo! I also applaud that the truth about Snape was brought to light, at least for Harry and the reader. And, along similar lines, it was good to have the full picture on Dumbledore, too. From the beginning, one of the best things about the series has been the down-to-earth realism of the characters. They aren't artificial, plastic, one-dimensional, cookie-cuttered folks, but flawed and finite and frail and frustrated along the way (like me!). Readers who got too caught up in the literary device of witchraft and wizardry missed the far more important heart and substance of these books, which is the true-to-life struggles of the people whom Rowling has so beautifully created in this fictional universe of hers. For those who understand that each Christian is both saint and sinner, both old Adam and New Man in Christ, there can be a ready sympathy and appreciation for the journey of daily repentance, of faith and love, which Harry and his friends undergo.

Thanks be to God that, in this real universe of His gracious creation, His only-begotten Son has voluntarily handed Himself over to sacrificial death, in order to atone for the sins of the world, crush the serpent under His foot, reconcile us to the Father, and bring us at last into the peace and rest of life everlasting with the Holy Triune God. We walk by faith and not by sight, for now, but our faith shall not be disappointed. The cross that we are given to carry is a heavy and painful burden at times, but the true King's Cross has gotten the victory for us. Nothing shall ever be able to separate us from that love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Even death has lost its sting and is no longer able to frighten or alarm us. For it is already defeated, and at the last it shall be vanquished evermore.


Jane said...

I loved this book and am glad to read your thoughts on it. I'm also glad we were right. :)
The kids and I were talking about the reasons that these books will endure long beyond the current advertising frenzy and I think that one reason is that the characters are so real.
As soon as Jonathan finishes my copy I am going to read through it again more slowly.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Question: How did Neville end up with the sword of Gryffindor? Did I miss something, or did Rowling leave that unexplained?

There was another, similar sort of question that I had just before going to bed last night -- but for the moment I've forgoteen what it was. I guess, if it was really intriguing, I'll think of it again when I reread the book.

shadow said...

There was a similar pulling-the-sword-out-of-the-hat incident in Chamber of Secrets where Harry pulled Gryffindor's Sword out of the Sorting Hat to kill the basilisk. Dumbledore later explains that "Only a true Gryffindor could have pulled that sword from the hat", though he doesn't go into the exact mechanics of the matter.


Glenda said...

La La La La - I'm not listening. We're still in the 6th book, although I did break down in Target yesterday and read the chapter titles for the 7th book. I'll save reading your's and everyone else's reviews until I'm done reading it aloud to the family.

Wolf Pack said...

My copy is now with a friend down the street but... if I recall doesn't Harry remember something Dumbledore said to him about the sword when he's about to go into the water to get it out. Something about courage and need? I just love how Neville comes into his own in this book!
What makes these books so real is her depth of character development - very few people are left as just peripheral. Even Mungdungus is shown more character than many authors would bother with. Always sad when characters die but I LOVE how she has Hagrid taken away but not killed. I do wish she'd let us know if George went on with his joke shop without Fred - maybe brought Lee in or something.
Aside from the great storyline and character building I think I most liked the "joke" lines like when McGonagal told Harry that the teachers would protect the castle so he could look for the Diadem and he asked if they could do that. Her response "We teachers are quite good at magic you know" (or something like that) just had me falling out of my chair! :) That and Ron's quip to Draco about it being the second time that night they saved him. :)
That DADA job really is cursed though. They all died (even if not while teaching!). Well except the toad but she hardly counts as a teacher! :)
Thoroughly enjoyable!
Love you blog - sending friends here! Will be listening on Sunday!
Blessings in Christ

Carl said...

After reading your positive comments of H.P., wonder what you think of this article? This author
was highly recommended in an article of Logia by on the church and the end times. Thanks!


Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Brother Carl,

Thanks for calling my attention to the Michael D. O'Brien article on line. I had not encountered it previously, and will certainly read it with interest. If I can, I'll do so carefully between now and my Issues, Etc. interview on Sunday evening. My initial perusal of the article, however, strikes me as a misreading, a misinterpretation, and a misunderstanding of the books. At least, the descriptions of the Harry Potter story that I caught in my quick look at O'Brien's work do not seem to reflect an accurate picture or summary of what's there. Among other things, I believe it is very unfair and misleading to describe the magic in Harry Potter as occultic. There is no calling upon demonic powers to work magic in the books. Rather, in the fictional universe that Rowling has crafted, magic is simply a part of the way the world works, and it can be employed properly for good or wickedly for evil. God's good gifts in His real world of creation are similarly used well or selfishly abused.

The notion that the books praise bad behavior is simply not true. The characters are realistic, finite, flawed, falible and frail. They make mistakes along the way, and they learn from their mistakes (or else they succumb to them). Harry learns and grows as he goes along, but he never is perfect, nor does Rowling portray him as perfect. This is not a fault of the books, but part of their greatest strength. This is much the way it is for all of us, who live not by the righteousness of our own works, but by grace through faith in the imputed righteousness of Christ our Lord.

The themes and emphases of the books are neither a-moral nor immoral (nor would I describe the books as a "morality tale," as others have). They rather lift up the way of life that Christians would identify as faith and love. There is mercy and compassion, even for one's enemies, and there is self-sacrificing love that triumphs, ultimately, over the selfish and self-serving lust for power. The "good guys" persevere, because they love each other and trust in the life beyond death.

The Christian underpinnings of the Harry Potter books are rarely explicit, but tend to be subtle and implicit throughout, more and more pervasively as the storyline develops from one book to the next.

But perhaps I'll have more to say about this after I've read through O'Brien's article more carefully and thoroughly. I do appreciate having it called to my attention.

DoRenaBeana said...

Hey Dad, have you seen THIS?!?


I don't think it was meant to be funny, but I laughed.