An Honest Look At Harry Potter

I just finished reading all seven Harry Potter books, an endeavor that took almost a year thanks to the fact that I was attending Bible school, traveling like a maniac, moving, working, going to school, and more. 

Some of you may be gasping, “She read Harry Potter at Bible school??” Yes. Yes, I did. *More horrified gasping* “Why?” Well, as it so happens, Harry Potter has become a huge part of the youth culture in the world today, churched and unchurched alike. It has been a formative part of many people’s world-views, morally and socially. Even though I’d never read the books, the fact that I use the internet on a regular basis meant that I was aware of the basic plot line. However, the fact that I had not read the books was a hindrance in weighing in fairly in conversations regarding Harry Potter. 

Honestly, the only argument I ever heard against reading Harry Potter had to do with the use of magic in the books. Here’s what I discovered: big deal. The magic isn’t the issue. How the magic was used wasn’t even the issue. What I took issue with was the greater theme of “the end justifies the means”. There were some really good themes in the books, loyalty, friendship, and ultimately that love is the most powerful force in the world – more powerful than magic. These are all great things, but even in the midst of those things I found sections where Harry and his friends mislead people in order to eventually defeat the evil Voldemort. Forgive me for not providing specific examples, the drawn out amount of time I took to read the books has confused the order of the stories a bit in my mind and caused me to remember an outline of the stories rather than specific moments. 

This is the same problem that I found when reading the 13 books in A Series of Unfortunate Events, books that have never been publicly criticized or condemned by the church. I find this subtle “end justifies the means” theme to be much more dangerous than an outright use of magic (the source of which is never really discussed in the Harry Potter books, demonic/scientific/whatever, it is simply presented as a tool that can be used for good or evil). Now, I’m not saying that the presence of this theme in both of these series means that they should be thrown out, avoided, or condemned. No, if you are aware of this theme, or simply go into the books with some critical thinking skills then go ahead and read them! They’re decently written, now I have read better than both A Series of Unfortunate Events and Harry Potter, but they make for an interesting and entertaining read.

Please, don’t hate me for this. I say all of this with no ill-will towards J.K. Rowling, Lemony Snicket, or any fans of these series (Some of my best friends LOVE these books and I love them). I am simply providing my honest opinion after having read all seven books Harry Potter books and seeing all eight movies, as well as reading all thirteen Series of Unfortunate Events books and seeing the movie. There’s more I could say, I’m sure, but I didn’t take notes while reading either but that’s not the point. Most of the time the things that are most dangerous in our lives are subtle. The use of magic evokes a far stronger reaction than saying that the end justifies the means. Does that make magic worse? No. In fact, I think the second is far more dangerous than the first. It’s far more pervasive in our culture and creates a moral snowball effect. My point is simply, don’t shut your brain off when you start reading. Be aware of what you’re putting into your head and how it might be influencing the way you think.

I’m completely open to hearing your thoughts, opinion, comments, whatnot. In fact, I’d love it. Just don’t get angry, people who get angry online just look silly.

New Year, New Blessings

Yes, it’s a post about the new year. Yes, I know that’s so overdone on January 1st. Still, despite the cliché of it I can honestly say that this past year had it’s ups and downs but ended on a high note.

As many of you know, this past year I attended Capernwray Bible School in England. I rang in the new year at home with friends and returned to the school a few days later. I would be lying if I said that I was happy to go back. Honestly, I never let myself realize how homesick I was during the first three months of school and when I got back home it all came crashing down on me. The night before I was supposed to fly back to school I sat in my room and cried, simply because of all the little things I was going to miss. I was going back to wonderful friends, a place that was familiar to me, and still I couldn’t help but think that maybe I didn’t want to go back. The first semester wasn’t all unicorns and sparkles, there were some pretty bad days. However, ultimately I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t go back and see it through. Can I just say, I am so glad that I went back! The second semester didn’t start so well, I was in the Conference Hall (asbestos in the walls, space heaters, cold water, isolation, etc.) and feeling more than a little sorry for myself. Even though I wasn’t happy with the situation I think I can fairly say that I really did get closer to God during that time. I’m not sure what turned things around, but by the time 10 day outreach came around I was feeling a lot better about life in general. 

Spring break was amazing, spending a week in London, a week in Italy, and then two weeks in Kenya (all of which I wrote about, so I’ll spare you the drama) and I was ready to go. I felt refreshed in so many ways, and up until that point I hadn’t realized what an issue self-confidence had become. Somehow, during my time in Kenya I became aware of how self-conscious I was and decided it was time to do something about it. It was a scary decision, but I decided that I wouldn’t wear make-up at all during Spring School. Can I just say what a freeing experience that was? It took a while, but I was able to feel comfortable in my own skin without needing to feel protected behind make-up. 

Spring School was a much brighter experience, in many ways, than Winter School. It was an incredible time of deepening relationships and making new friendships, as well as learning a ton. The end of Spring School was pretty depressing, once again I had to split up with my friends and leave a place that I had grown to love. Coming home was a real mixed bag. I was glad to see my family and friends again, and eat some good food. I settled back into my home, it was almost like I never left, except that most of life had moved on without me. I wasn’t really needed anywhere, which was an odd feeling. I couldn’t get too settled in because I didn’t know what life was going to hold over the next several months. I registered for classes at the community college, and the plan was to apply for an internship through Disney and apply to Johnson & Wales for the hospitality program (also mentioned in previous posts). I got settled into my work schedule and started at the community college. If you haven’t seen the show Community, look it up. True life. I felt like Jeff Winger for the first two months (at least), in the meantime I applied for the Disney internship and heard nothing, and became increasingly frustrated. 

What was going on? Well, eventually I realized what a bad attitude I had about community college. It definitely wasn’t my favorite place, but I had to be there and it wasn’t going to be forever. Honestly, that didn’t make me feel better most of the time but at least I figured that one out. In the meantime, I still hadn’t heard from Disney. I think I was supposed to be learning about patience, but I can’t say if that one sunk in or not. Bringing you up to speed, this past semester I finished well with my classes and worked a bit, which I enjoyed. In mid-December my family went to Wilmington for my brother’s graduation from the film department and I stayed with my brother. While I was there I heard from Johnson & Wales and was really thrilled. My acceptance was for March 2012, I figured that I could apply for that trimester that way if I didn’t end up going to Disney for the internship I’d have something to do, and if I did get accepted I could always defer my acceptance for September. The day of my brother’s graduation I found out that I was also accepted to the Disney internship – I was sitting in the same chair when I found out about both, I am now convinced that chair is made of magic. Needless to say, when I found out I was accepted for the internship (which had always been Plan A) there was some jumping up and down, dancing, and quite a bit of excitement. 

Now where am I? Currently I’m sitting in my friend, and former roommate, Kate’s living room watching The Newsies. I’ve been in Chicago for the New Year since December 27th, sightseeing and enjoying catching up. The next month is going to be full of working, packing, and generally gearing up for all the exciting things that are going to happen this coming year. 

Here’s a rough outline of what this year is going to look like for me:

-January 31st, start driving down to Florida

-February 1st, move-in day

-June 1st, end of Disney internship/move back to NC

Summer: ?

-September (?), start at Johnson & Wales

 

So, that’s my year in review and outline of the one to come. Any questions, comments, insults, or compliments? Leave it in the comments below or write on my wall on Facebook.