Let’s just get this right out there up front: I have no political, theological or biological statement to make regarding the good or evil of Harry Potter. I have not read one word of the books but to be fair, I only made it through one book of Narnia and my feelings for CS Lewis are second only to my feelings for Dr. Seuss. While I’m making confessions, let me add that I have never seen Star Wars or Lord of the Rings (yes, I was perhaps the most irrelevant youth pastor in North America in the year 2002). Do you see a pattern here? I’m just not into fantasy.
So, that’s mostly why I haven’t read Potter. That’s also why it made no impact on me when I saw that we were going to be in Harry Potter’s new neighborhood in Orlando. It did, however, make a gigantic impact on our second daughter, Tori, who isn’t irrelevant, has read the books and is a big fan. She was very excited to view Harry’s world, which has only been open since June of this year and I was excited to view her viewing it – because I love watching my kids’ dreams come true like that.
The verdict? It’s amazing. Though I didn’t really know what things meant or represented, I was astounded at the level of detail and intrigue in that magical world. As we walked the (very, very crowded) streets along Hogwarts castle, I felt transported to another time and place. Tori explained to me the things I needed to know like butter beer and the talking pictures and the sleeping portraits and the frogs in the Hogwarts Academy Choir. And as we walked through the castle (the line to the most popular ride – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – weaves it’s way through the castle and on a regular day, the wait could be more than 2 hours), it was hard to take it all in fast enough.
What occurred to me during that adventure was this: it’s taken millions of dollars and man hours to build what JK Rowling created with just her mind and a pen. The same could be said of CS Lewis and JR Tolkien and William Shakespeare (though his stuff is pretty light on the special effects). Inside the minds of men and women just like you and me, lives the power to create what we have never seen. Surely, this is a small echo of the nature of our God, who dreamed the universe and spoke it into existence with just a word.
As someone who loves trying to wrangle words into something that creates beauty, I am amazed at what God has invested into frail, fallen humanity. The ability to imagine and create and describe seems to me so much more powerful than the ability to conquer. In a world filled with so many swirling words, each of which contains the power of life and death, I’m so grateful that Jesus came as The Word. The holy, healing, transcendent Word came and trumped them all. My prayer during this season of my life is: teach me Your way with words, because I believe that when we combine dreaming, writing and working, anything is possible.
That’s what I learned from Harry Potter.