(Yes, this is indeed a post about Harry Potter and Hermione discussing a bible verse!)
***warning: there could be spoilers following here about the end of ‘Harry Potter and the deathly hallows’. ***
I’ve been thinking lately about one of the 2 bible verses used in Harry Potter and the deathly hallows. Both of them are used on gravestones in Godrics Hollow, Harry and Hermione are running for Voldemorts death eaters and looking for a clue in the village where both his parents and the family of Dumbledore have lived.
Those well versed in the bible will recognise the words on the grave of Harry’s parents as those of St-Paul in I Corinthians 15:26.
(the other bible verse is from Jesus in Matthew 6:21: ‘where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ on the grave of dumbledore’s family)
So let’s go to the Harry Potter scene:
Harry read the words slowly, as though he would have only one chance to take in their meaning, and he read the last of them out aloud.
“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” A horrible thought came to him, and with it a kind of panic.’Isn’ that a death eater idea? Why is that here?’
‘It doesn’t mean defeating death the way the death eaters mean it, Harry.’ said Hermione, het vioce gentle. ‘It means… you know, living beyond death, living after death.’ (HP&TDH, 268-269)
what’s so interesting here? The first thing Harry thinks of when reading these words is the philosophies of Voldemorts death eaters. It’s true thatVoldemort surely wants to destroy death. He uses all kinds of black magic, in which he himself even kills and destroys other people, to make sure that he’s not going to die, and it is clear that he does this because he is scared of death. (Something we see in our culture as well…) Trying to conquer death by all means possible, because we’re scared of it. Trying to master death, but it won’t work. It didn’t work with Voldemort and his black magic, and it doesn’t work at all with our science and technology either, whatever we try. Death is an inevitable part of life in this world, that we can not just ignore… Nor magic nor science and technology (two things closer to each other than we’d suspect, but that’s another subject) will help us to ‘destroy’ death in this way, and if they would, we’d be off much worse.
Hermione is more sensible. Why in the world would anyone write a slogan of dark wizzards on the grave of Harry’s parents anyway? ‘It’s about living beyong death, living after death.’ Now those are clearly 2 different things. Living after death is not only something that’s somewhere in the background assumed by Rowling in the Harry Potter books, but foremost something we as Christians do believe in. even though I’m not too sure about the ways some people talk about ‘heaven’, which are not at all compatible with the biblical idea of the resurrection of the death at the judgement and the new heaven and the new earth. But then we are talking about after this world, or at least after the renewal of this world.
But let’s go further with the first idea, and the r-word. Living beyond death, or resurrection. Even in the Harry Potter book we see such a thing, when Voldemort tries to kill Harry, which does not work, Harry does in some kind of way come back from the death he had accepted. The death he is willing to die to save his friends and the whole society of wizzards.
But here we see the paradox of Christus Victor. The grain of wheat has to die before the plant can grow and bear fruit. Jesus had to die, to give Himself up completely, to be able to resurrect in a new resurrection body and defeat the powers of evil. We even see this in all the Harry Potter books: Harry’s mothers sacrifice protects him against Voldemort. The one who wants to conquer death by killing even more, bringing even more death, the one who does not understand love, sacrifice and anything meaningful, which will be his end.
Our human ways of trying to not have to deal with death are in the end even more destructive. The way of Jesus is different: giving our lives, sacrificing ourselves, so death loses its power and we share in the life of the resurrection.
We are called to take up our own cross and follow Him. We are called to die to ourselves. The so-called prayer of St-Francis (which is most probably not from Francis of Assisi) says it like this:
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
so what do you all think about death as the last enemy to be destroyed?