The Thirst for The Theological
How Epic Novels Are Plea The Everlasting
|RC||Nov 19, 2020|
“This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the LORD: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
In literature today we may not have the same classics that we once had in Charles Dickens, JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, and others as we revere them for being some of the greatest writers and storytellers ever. However, one author stands out to me as someone who has drawn on these classic authors as well as Scripture to form a story that has captivated more hearts than one can count. This story has so captivated my mind and heart - that it may be my favorite series of books of all time.
Yes, I am, of course, talking about Harry Potter, written by JK Rowling. Sadly, I waited 20 long years before watching the movies and even longer before reading the books. Like many of you I had parents that told me it was evil to enjoy Harry Potter but then turned around and wanted me to reach Lord of the Rings (LOTR) which, contains more evil witchcraft than that of Harry Potter.
We know that Harry Potter isn't evil or some dark witchcraft teaching kids to raise a dark lord. Quite the opposite really. It's about a boy who was saved by the love of his mother, the protection of sacrifice, so that he may lead the way to save his generation from the dark lord. The magic in Harry Potter is no more real and dark than the time travel in Doctor Who.
Deeper into the reader's heart we will find a need for such fantasy, such battle, and vigorous characters. Why? Mircea Eliade suggested that modern entertainment - especially books - serve as a mythological or religious function in a desacralized world. Harry Potter gives us the magic that is long been in English fantasy and keeps with tradition as being incantational magic - one that shows a thirst for a reality beyond our own.
CS Lewis gave us the visionary differences between incantational and invocational magic in Prince Caspian. In the battle of the forest things aren't going well and what do they rely on? The magical horn that Aslan had given Queen Susan. Later, in reply to the light magic, the dwarf attempts to bring back the White Witch the same way that Wormtail tries to bring back Lord Voldemort.
Not just in Narnia, but in almost all fantasy fiction the good magic is incantational (i.e., Expelliarmus!) and bad magic is always invocational. This is because incantational magic can be synced with God's creative word by way of imitation. Harry Potter exclusively uses incantational magic and I do believe JK Rowling drew upon the great novels of our past and Scripture itself.
The magic of God's word and God's world is always being toiled over by those who use it for good and those who use it for evil. This is nothing new when we see magic being used in Harry Potter, LOTR or Narnia. The very nature of the magical world in Harry Potter is consistent with the best traditions in myth and fantasy. It also chimes so closely to the very world we live in as Christians living in a fallen world. As CS Lewis rightly pointed out the Christian life is like living in an enemy-occupied world. The world of believers (wizards, witches) and the world of non-believers (muggles) sits so closely with us that we cannot help but be drawn into the realm of Hogwarts.
Many of you who follow me know that we make harsh movements against Naturalism, the belief that all existence is matter and energy and nothing has an ultimate purpose and that religious belief is a delusion. They state that there is nothing more to this life, no after life, no spiritual life, nothing but the very state of being in matter. However, Potter lays a more foundational view of what we believe in our hearts to be true, even if you're not a Christian - there is more.
There is a reason as to why these types of Fantasy novels do so well and are the inspiration for many more in later years and this reason is that we are all searching for more as we know there must be. The nonbelievers and the believers are divided into muggles and wizards just as our world is divided today. We relate so drastically to it that we often forget, when reading Potter, that our world is more like what we are reading than we give reason to.
Harry Potter (along with LOTR and others) helps us identify with characters outside our own world and let us live momentarily in a world that gives us the ability to be magical, heroic, and exceeds above our current means. It feeds the need we have for a life after this, a life filled with magic and promise. A life that is described in Scripture and played out in novels across our time.
We are going to be diving extremely deep into the realm of Hogwarts and all things Harry Potter, Theology, and Apologetics very soon. This thirst for the theological we find in our world's greatest novels is by no means a coincidence and it's something we are going to be deep diving. We believe that humanity is drastically drawn to these novels because their hearts seek God - even if they do not know it quite yet.
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