Four thousand, one hundred ninety-five pages later, where has the Harry Potter series left its readers?
Hang on a second. Before you stop reading – either due to Potter-saturation, or because you've never been a fan – let me say that I'm not here to discuss the merits (or not) of the most widely read series of the last decade.
I'm actually here to share my surprise. Because the collection of books from which I anticipated the least take-away actually taught me a profound spiritual lesson, although it didn't exactly start out that way.
The way it started out was with darkness. I'd just finished a reread of the series for work, and death, danger, fear, and evil seemed, suddenly, overwhelmingly real to me. Not the danger and evil in the books; I knew that was all made up. No, I was afraid because spending so much time dwelling on evil had left me feeling vulnerable – and worried about real-life dangers ranging from urban crime to terrorism.
Standing up to evil
The good news was, I knew enough to challenge these thoughts. My study of Christian Science has taught me that, rather than buy into evil, we have the God-given authority to stand up to it. Why? I like the way the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, put it: "…in Spirit all is harmony, and there can be no discord; all is Life, and there is no death. Everything in God's universe expresses Him" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 331).
I began there – wanting to see the presence of harmony, of light, right where all the real-life darkness seemed to be. And in the same way that a single beam of light can annihilate darkness – though all the darkness in the world can't snuff out light – I knew that whatever I understood of God was enough to cut through the mental darkness. Even though it seemed to press in on me more convincingly with every news story or real-life crisis I encountered.
God as Spirit, Life, and Love
So what did I know about God? Well, first, as Mrs. Eddy stated, God is Spirit. And being the expression of Spirit, I knew, meant I was pure, uncontaminated, and invulnerable. So I couldn't be subject to aggressive thoughts arguing for the reality of sin and mortality.
Second, God is Life. What does Life communicate to its creation? Certainly not thoughts of danger and death. Instead, I recognized, Life was telling me I was the very expression of joy and harmony. And that this is true for all of Life's ideas.
Finally, God is Love. The Bible extrapolated on this idea best: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear" (I John 4:18). Love loves its creation too much to allow for any circumstances that would engender fear, I realized. So in the all-embracing presence of Love, fear was nothing more than an illusion.
I like thinking of evil in terms of illusion, not because it allows me to ignore the world's problems. On the contrary, it helps me pray more effectively about them, because it reminds me that though evil may seem just as convincing as a trick in a magician's show appears to be, it is not. It is, like that magician's trick, an illusion. In fact, it's a fantasy.
Harry Potter as a metaphor
And with that word fantasy, I suddenly saw Harry Potter in a whole new light.
I realized that, rather than be disturbed by the way the books had made me feel about evil in the real world, I could actually see the series as a metaphor – a metaphor for the metaphysical fact that evil, for all its claims to power and reality, is actually nothing more than a fantasy. It ceases to exist the moment we cease to be its audience.
Is this too bold a statement? All I know is, every healing I've ever had – including this healing of overwhelming dark thoughts – has proved just what Mrs. Eddy articulated: "Everything in God's universe expresses Him." There's no room for evil in such a wholly good universe. Indeed, the fact that evil can be overcome proves its powerlessness. We don't need to be – we can't be – pushed around by it.
Do you need to read Harry Potter to grasp this point? Of course not. But I was grateful to the series for the reminder that we can each see evil for what it really is: just as much of a fantasy as that which lies between the covers of a book.
In the world
ye shall have tribulation:
but be of good cheer;
I have overcome the world.