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Harry, Harry, Harry

By Justine Dorton

Does Harry Potter have anything remotely literary or important to say? Can anything scholarly be said for the Magical School of Witchcraft and Wizardry that currently so occupies public consciousness?

To this I must say yes.

I have read the series Potter now four times. Each time was in prelude to an upcoming release of the next in the series. I’ve read it each time with my kids. So here it is”¦

The first book, in my opinion, was the best of the series for no other reason than this. Harry spent a great deal of time and energy learning spells and enchantments, but when trouble came up, he always solved his problems without it. He used his own ingenuity and resolved problems, deflected bullies, killed bad guys. For this piece of information alone, number one stands at the top for me.

But accepting that he does embrace magic throughout the rest of the series, let’s advance the idea that accompanies all great tales throughout history. We must each choose which part of us we will embrace, and that, my friends, does make all the difference. I may feel, at times, completely overcome by the evil within me. I may succumb to the anger and hurt on occasion. But accepting that all possibilities lie within me, and because I choose the better part in spite of that knowledge, that is who I am.

And let’s not forget another truism that often rings, spot on, in each of us, that can on occasion leave us feeling overwhelmed and singularly alone. All the great battles we fight in our lives must be fought with us standing on the strength of our own testimonies ”“ our own skill. Guidance, love, support — all can come from people who love us, but our final temptations and trials must be bourn with the tools we have equipped ourselves with ”“ and it must be bourn alone.

Now, I might add here, that we are never really alone. We can always call upon the strength of the Savior to lift our burdens. But standing alone to face our demons and to stand up for something, now that we just can’t do with someone else’s testimony. We’ve got to know for ourselves. We’ve got to be equipped for ourselves. We’ve got to have our own strength.

I’ve got to interject here that I feel a little bit like the random guy in Sacrament meeting who makes analogies about everything (“Living the gospel is just like eating a hot dog. You see, we’re the wiener, the Spirit is the bun”¦” or how about “I went to the grocery store yesterday and thought just how much walking up and down the aisles is like life”¦”) Anyway, I am reticent to make more of Harry Potter than is actually there.

But, truth be told, there is a lot there. Oh, sure, it might be couched in dungbombs and horcruxes, but the message is still there.

Love wins. Choices matter. Courage is power.

(oh, and Neville Longbottom rocks.)

About Justine Dorton

Justine is a mother to five children, and has a husband lodged somewhere (probably in the den). She is not very fond of speaking of herself in third person.

9 thoughts on “Harry, Harry, Harry”

  1. Neville Longbottom is the coolest!
    I've always loved the good conquers evil in these books.
    I love the message that things aren't always what they seem and sometimes, even though we think things or people are working against us, it is really for our good.
    We all have things in our lives that we aren't proud of, but we can over come them and still choose the right.
    And yeah – I probably read too much into Harry Potter too 😉

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  2. [DO NOT READ THIS POST IF YOU DON'T WANT SPOILERS]. So I absolutely think you can read things into Harry Potter… I was thinking [SPOILERS] Dumbledore/Abraham and Harry/Isaac. Okay, a bit of a stretch, but you can still see it.

    Also, I love the way the book emphasizes family relationships. I loved the scene [MORE SPOILERS] with Lupin and Harry arguing over Lupin leaving Tonks. There's something with practical application right there. I finished the book and felt full of love for my kids (who I had neglected as I read it).

    So, let's read into it! And we don't have to be embarrassed about it.

    And my biggest disappointment with this book is that I was hoping that somehow Neville's parents would be healed. But I loved that last scene with him and the sorting hat. Go Neville!

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  3. Emily, you rock, too! Way to pull the Old Testament out of HP!

    I just think there's a bunch of really good messages for my kids (and for me) in these scrumptious books. I do really wish there were a few more things in there, but I won't lay out any more spoilers.

    The idea that my kids really latched on to was the principle that we choose who we are, and what part of us we embrace. It's the ultimate "you get to be in charge of you" statement.

    And ok, just one more spoiler, I wept when he so purposefully dropped the resurrection stone, ready to face Voldemort, so completely alone. He embraced his adult self. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

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  4. My husband thought maybe JK Rowling was trying to "get back" at all the objections to HP as an occult volume, by interjecting all those quite obvious NT themes. Maybe so. But I was moved. Whatever things she's decided to emphasize, they're moving to a Western readership–family, love, courage, using community to help (one reason Neville rocks is that Harry TOLD him what he needed! and then he saw how to help and DID it, but Harry first TOLD him! Wahoo!!! Ron and Hermione rock, too, from first to last–I loved it when they showed up with the basilisks), perfect = imperfect, recognizing the complexity in every human, choice + agency… And you know what else? I love that JK Rowling has written these books. SHE rocks, too. She's changed the world, by creating Harry's. See what writing can do? Are we lucky to be in on this phenomenon, or what?

    BTW, those pictures on "Inside Justine's mind" of Justine's daughter Jocelyn reading the HP series all week long–those are priceless.

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  5. I loved the series, fictional magic notwithstanding. One of the main reasons I loved it was because of the parallels that I found too powerful to ignore. There were MANY, if you ask me. And I'm reticent to compare magical fiction to gospel, too. But hey, if you can package some good, true principles into a book that becomes a world-wide craze, I'm not going to complain. 🙂

    I have to say that I also love the books for what they did for children and reading. Especially MY children!

    (They didn't hurt my desire for reading, either!)

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  6. I went with my husband to a sci-fi/fantasy symposium last year–neither of which I'm a big fan of. I was surprised when the speakers began talking about fantasy novels and how they generally have spiritual themes, including the battle between good and evil, and a Christ figure who dies and comes back. Interesting!

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