There is a moment in the movie/book that we all ought to applaud. Quirrell, the evil wizard’s henchman, articulates his philosophy of life: “There is no good and evil. There is only power, and those too weak to seek it”
Harry Potter (the hero) rejects this philosophy and goes on to put up a brave fight in the exciting climax of the movie/book. But is that what the book/movie is about? The victory of ethics over raw power?
A pop quiz. Did you leave the movie feeling:
a) I want to be a more moral person, or
b) I wish I had the power to put pig tails on a few bullies I know.
Hands up all those who chose a). Hello? Were we at the same movie? Sure you didn’t see The Fellowship of the Ring by mistake? Here lies the major flaw and real danger of Harry Potter. Sure, for all I know some real spells may have been incorporated into the book. But hey, the word ‘pizza’ could be an evil curse in Mongolian for all I know.
What is more dangerous is simpler and more insidious. And that is the belief that if you had the necessary power you could make things right. Trouble is, we end up putting our faith in our own understanding of what is right and wrong. And desiring the power to pursue our understanding of what is right and wrong. Which brings us back to the foundational temptation: “You shall be like gods” (Genesis 3:5)
The primary temptation in the garden of Eden was the temptation for humankind to become self contained moral beings who no longer needed to trust and obey their Maker. This continues to be primary seduction that faces humankind.
If only we had enough power (and knowledge is a form of power) we could live our lives successfully. We don’t need God. And therefore we don’t need the hassle of His ethics as well. And I fear that the Harry Potter movie does not veer too much from this basic temptation. Even with its Enid Blyton-ish ethical veneer.
Interestingly, the most moving part of the movie was when Harry’s friend, Ron Weasley, sacrificed himself on the living chess board so that his friends could live and accomplish their mission. Sacrificial love–now that is real power. That has already been demonstrated ecisively in history. On the cross. And now available to all who would trust and obey the living God.