Thursday, August 11, 2011

Potter's Passivity

Some have complained that the Potter series is ultimately unsatisfying because Harry as a character is passive. He does not do so much as stuff is done to him. He is constantly getting into trouble and then being bailed out by others, or by things that were done to him that protect him.

Some thought needs to be given to this idea, but it could actually be one of the great messages of the story. Rather than the active hero that we tend to root for, Harry is someone who comes to be more and more at peace with who he is and the way things need to be. He starts out rather active in the first couple years—chasing adventure and trying to solve the mysteries around him—but as he grows and matures he becomes more and more aware of what is good and what is evil and he trusts the good in his life. Even when he discovers the darker sides of his heroes—their humanity and failings, he chooses to trust their advice and leadership.

This becomes most evident in the last year of the story when he must choose whether to fulfill the instructions Dumbledore gave him to destroy the source of Voldemort’s power or try to obtain a source of his own power with which to take Voldemort on. He chooses the “passive” role. Then, when he discovers that the ultimate role he has to play in defeating evil is to offer himself as a sacrifice, he goes bravely to die. Not the stuff of your typical, western hero.

More than the messianic imagery many see in the story, this is where the example to imitate is found. We all need to embrace a more passive abandon to follow God’s leadership in life. The role that He has for us to fulfill is the true story of our life. Faith is more about following faithfully and obediently the direction He has chosen for our lives than any system of belief we can build up for ourselves to follow.

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