Friday, July 13, 2007

Harry Potter and his Knights

Kathy, Becca, and I went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last night. I enjoyed it more than the book itself because it didn’t have all the annoying sections with Sirius’ house elf in it. But one of the things that struck me about the film—and I guess about the whole series—is how much it sees the world, using progressive political analyst George Lakoff’s terms, in a modern “winners and losers” type scenario rather than in a postmodern “challenge and response” way. Or to put it in the terms Cass Dale used over the last several weeks at Drew, Rowling has created a series with lots of knights and very few gardeners in it. (The only gardeners I found in last night's film were the Weasley twins and perhaps Luna.) And, as a gardener myself who has seen two many knights from my work in the legal field, I wish a book/film series would come along that was as creative and all engrossing as Harry Potter but was focused on problem solving rather than slaying the enemy.
Of all the books in the series so far, Order of the Phoenix makes this winners and losers worldview the clearest. Sirius Black tells Potter and the Weasley kids that Voldemort “has been recruiting heavily and we have been attempting to do the same.” Shortly afterwards Harry and his friends begin training for what they title “Dumbledore’s Army.” This dualism is not something that I could warm up to in biblical books like Revelation or the Johannine epistles. It’s the reason that, while I enjoyed the Star Wars series with its forces of light and dark, I’d prefer Star Trek with its focus on exploring frontiers anyday. And so, while I love the creative focus on magic, mythical animals, and another world to explore in Harry Potter, the dualism is not something I particularly like in Rowling’s series either.
As I was leaving last night’s movie, which ends with a great deal of emphasis put on the fact that either Voldemort must kill Harry or vice versa because of the “prophecy”, I walked out hoping that in the last book, Rowling will surprise us all by having a return to principles of the heart rather than to principles of good and evil, with compassion and grace as the redeeming forces. I know it’s a long shot, but would that, when volume seven is released next week, we learn that in her conclusion Rowling has spun a solution that moves everyone ahead together into the future rather than a solution in which one force conquers the other, the two are left regrouping for a latter day, or the battle of good and evil continues.

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