Director: Chris Columbus Cast: Daniel Radcliff (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), Richard Harris (Professor Dumbledore), Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall), Alan Rickman (Professor Snape).
“Mr. Potter. Our new celebrity.” ~ Professor Snape
Harry Potter moves into a world where everyone knows him. He is famous, but he doesn’t know why.
All the controversy about Harry Potter misses this point: It is a story about a boy who would be a savior of his people. Sound familiar?
Harry is an orphan who lives with the Dursleys, his cruel aunt and uncle. They treat him worse than Cinderella and make him live under the staircase. His cousin Dudley torments him, even eating his first and only birthday cake.
Such humble beginnings help develop a person who would be savior. Harry learns humility through being humiliated, and his time with the Dursleys forms the character of the boy who will face the evil that awaits him.
Harry’s beginnings are not unlike those of Moses in the employ of his father-in-law. Just as Moses was humbled in order to lead, so is Harry.
Harry’s life changes when he is invited to attend Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Thus begins the adventure that is Harry’s new life as a student at Hogwart’s. The adventure is wrought with moving staircases, a three-headed dog, a ghost named Nearly Headless Nick and games of Quidditch–a mix between rugby, lacrosse and soccer only played while flying high on broomsticks.
On the train ride to Hogwart’s he meets Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. The three become good friends in the adventure that unfolds at Hogwart’s.
There, Harry learns of his past and his destiny. Harry’s parents were killed by an evil wizard named Valdemort who still plagues the school. Harry himself faced the evil curse of Valdemort as a baby and survived with only a lightning bolt scar on his forehead. He faced evil and lived to battle on.
Hogwart’s headmaster Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGongall and Hagrid the groundskeeper act as angels who ministered to Harry as an orphaned baby. They protected him by placing him in the home of his aunt and uncle, who are Muggles, or “non-magics.”
Harry Potter is the Millennium Generation’s “Wizard of Oz.” It takes bravery and pluck for the three friends to overcome the evil Valdemort. They use their unique skills and survive. And in the end, Harry is able to defeat Valdemort, but only for the moment. Like Satan, we know he will return another day.
The book of Isaiah says, “a little child shall lead them.” Harry Potter is a fantasy that speaks to the desire for a relationship that is transcendent and immanent. Harry Potter is a character and a story at an intersection between those who long for a spiritual encounter with otherness and those who know Jesus.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Burgaw Baptist Church, Burgaw, N.C.
Michael Parnell is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married and has two boys. His love is for movies, and he can be found in a theater most Fridays.