I love the Harry Potter series for so many reasons, one of which is its ability to raise really big questions about life, death, power and love. Exploring and living into these themes and questions is what our faith is all about! We get to walk with Harry who, despite being orphaned, grows to love his life and form a new family. Although he always feels the absence of his parents, he seeks out intimacy with Ron, Hermione, Luna, Neville, Dumbledore, Sirius and all the Weasleys. He stands in stark contrast to Voldemort, who isolates himself from love while blindly seeking power and immortality.
Harry has a growing reputation of being powerful as the books progress, with which he struggles. We see him, however, carry his power differently than Voldemort. Voldemort does not share power, and abuses it for purposes of domination and intimidation. Harry claims his power and uses his gifts for the good of his community without being preoccupied with self promotion. Jesus could have exploited his power to walk on water or heal people, but instead he uses his power to build relationship and bring about true healing. Instead of being fearful of his power, we see people respond to Jesus with faith and love.
When Harry realizes that he must die, he is sad to leave the people he has grown to love, but he does not fear death because he has fully entered into life. Voldemort, in his quest for absolute power and victory over death, forgets to live life. His relationships are not friendships, but ones of domination that insight only fear, not affection. Harry stands as a reminder to me that the best way to address our mortality is to really live our lives. We can follow Harry’s lead by loving people, celebrating the gifts that God gave us, and living a life we will not regret. In that way, we do not have to fear death, knowing that Jesus transcended death for us with his love.
By Ellie Roscher
Ellie Roscher holds a master’s degree in Theology/Urban Ministry from Luther Seminary and a bachelor’s degree in Pre-medicine/Religion from Gustavus Adolphus College. She lives in Bronxville, New York, with her spouse Dan while earning her MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence.