Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Expecto Patronum

The newest Harry Potter video is out, and I've already watched it several times. I have to admit that I am a huge fan of science fiction/fantasy in general, and am particularly fond of the Christianity-inspired fictional writings of the Inklings (including C.S. Lewis' Narnia Chronicles and J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings), with which J.K Rowling's Harry Potter books have been compared.

Now, I have heard that some Christians claim that these books promote witchcraft and sorcery, and that we should not read them. But I think that, as with Lewis and Tolkien's works, the magic is merely a metaphor for spiritual power. What is magic, except when something happens that seems to defy our common assumptions of what is possible? When Christ turned water into wine, was that magic? Sure.

Books or movies about magic that are uplifting and inspiring and are very different than those that are purely explorations of the diabolical for sensational purposes. When evil is glamorized, or made to be an alluring and seductive way to power, then I concur: these are best avoided. But those which represent in symbolic "magical" imagery the very real ongoing battle between good and evil, I think are a welcome and much-needed reminder of why we are all here and what we are supposed to be doing.

In a world where we are losing our freedoms of speech and religion, it may be that we may need to rely on such symbols to inspire our children and ourselves, to awaken our moral senses to oft-forgotten truths in a world that is becoming ever blinder to the reality of the fight between good and evil.

I love the Expecto Patronum spell! I love the linguistics of all Rowling's work (she has no small influence from Piers Anthony, another huge favorite of mine!), but this one causes my heart to leap with joy! The word "Patronum" conjures not only the word Patron, or a benefactor who takes care of you, but of the latin word for Father, pater. This one word encompasses the quality of a benevolent Father who takes care of you, and then, she adds the word "Expecto"...which sounds to me like expect...to believe that something will happen, to have faith....

So, in two short words, Rowling manages to have Harry Potter saying something that to my mind is tantamount to saying "have faith in the Father to protect you"! Or actually, to make it more personal, as Harry has to do, he is saying "I have faith in the Father to protect me!" I also love that he first believes it is his own earthly father who has the "power" to make this spell work, and he finally figures out that power (faith) has to come from within his own heart.

Oh, I love that movie! Expecto Patronum! This may become my new motto!
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