Monday, August 01, 2011

Hallowed be Potter's Name

We went to see the Deathly Hallows Part 2 film, the final installment of the Harry Potter series, and I have to say that it was very entertaining. We haven't kept up with either the books or the movies but this felt like a significant cultural punctuation point. Even if you haven't the slightest interest in this phenomenon you probably heard that Deathly Hallows 2 took in just under half a billion dollars in box office on the first weekend. The first weekend! As of yesterday the film topped a billion dollars.

There were the parties and articles and commentaries on it all. During a CBC radio phone-in callers waxed nostalgic about the ways in which the HP series of books and movies have formed the narrative of their lives through the past decade or more. It sounded like a religious experience for many of them and that might not be far off the truth. The Potter books have sold 450 million copies and represent seven of the top ten selling books of all time. The bible is still solidly in first place but the total of the Potter books points out that this story has shaped a generation.

Speaking of the bible, the final movie pits evil against good and includes a hero who dies to save others in a grove that has a Garden of Gethsemane feel, yet rises again. The satanic Voldemort is ultimately vanquished by love. There is even a resurrection stone and a nasty serpent. Hey, if it worked for the number one book of all time, why not stick with success. Little wonder some conservative churches have criticized and even banned Harry -- competition with a similar storyline.

It says to me that we need the powerful myths and narratives to shape us. Its too bad that we have resconstructed our Christian story and tamed Jesus the way we have.

Have you followed the Potter series? Have you notices the Christian themes emerging? Do we need powerful narratives?

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