Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Deeper Magic


I sped through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows over the weekend, thoroughly enjoying the ride (I'll have to read it again). The book did not disappoint; though some may have wished for a darker ending, I found the resolution satisfying. This is, after all, a children's book. I don't think Rowling can be faulted for happily-ever-after. I was, however, very much taken by surprise by the general tone of the book; the Christian symbolism which the earlier six books had hinted at came right to the fore in this one.

At one point in the story, Harry is led to the Sword of Griffyndor, a sword that will enable him to destroy the Horcruxes (objects housing parts of Voldemort's soul). Rowling writes, "The ice reflected his distorted shadow and the beam of wandlight, but deep below the thick, misty gray carapace, something else glinted. A great silver cross..."

Christmas Eve finds Harry and his friends in the church graveyard in Godric's Hollow, where Dumbledore and Harry's family are buried. On the Dumbledore family tomb, the inscription reads, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (from Matthew 6:21) and on Harry's parents' tomb are the words, "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (from 1 Corinthians 15:26, part of a passage about resurrection).

When Harry meets Dumbledore in the existential in-between, Harry asks Dumbledore why Voldemort could not kill him. Dumbledore tells him that "That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children's tales, of love, loyalty and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped."

Right from the beginning of the series, we are told that it was Harry's mother's substitutionary sacrifice that saved him from certain death, for such love had power that not even the darkest magic could defeat. In the Deathly Hallows, Harry himself willingly lays down his life for his friends, surrendering himself to Voldemort. (Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:13) In a sense, Harry dies and is resurrected. In Rowling's world, the deepest magic is clearly love.

In an interview with the Vancouver Sun in 2000, when Rowling was asked whether or not she was Christian, she replied "Yes, I am," continuing, "Which seems to offend the religious right far worse than if I said I thought there was no God. Every time I've been asked if I believe in God, I've said yes, because I do, but no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that, and I have to say that does suit me, because if I talk too freely about that I think the intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what's coming in the books."

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