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Opinion: Harry Potter holds lesson on facing fear

By Amy Butler

I finally went to see a Harry Potter movie. I liked the books, just like everyone else, but may be a function of my age that I just can't keep the story straight. Or maybe it's the fact that this is Harry Potter movie number -- is it eight? Nevertheless, it seemed like almost a holy obligation to go see the final movie, if only to be able to say that I did.

There was plenty of fodder for the theologically inclined in the film, of course, with themes of evil, salvation, sin and sacrifice running through the whole storyline. I kept thinking about all the dissertations and Sunday school curricula that were surely born last week as people watched the film. In the end, everything turns out fine and all the loose ends are tied up, as expected, but one part of the movie stuck with me long after the film ended.

After seeing Harry Potter I was struck by how very crippling fear can be in our lives. I mean, Harry and friends spent eight whole movies trying to run away from Voldemort, the bad guy. Nobody would even say his name out loud, they were so scared of him. Plot twist after plot twist had the characters running, hiding and trying to protect themselves from this terrible wizard whom they utterly, totally feared.

Since this latest movie is the last (so they say) it was inevitable that Harry and Voldemort were going to have to come face to face. It didn't happen until the end of the movie, of course, but when it did I kept thinking about how, in that moment, Voldemort didn't seem quite so scary anymore.

When the scene unfolded, there was Harry, standing in the same clearing as Voldemort, facing that deep and unrelenting fear that had kept him on the run for years. And it was okay.

I don't want to give away the story for those who haven't seen the movie, but suffice it to say the confrontation didn't turn out so well for Harry. Even so, it was clear that once Harry actually stood there facing Voldemort, his fear seemed to dissipate.

The writer of First John contends that perfect love casts out fear. I don't know about you, but I haven't quite gotten the "perfect love" thing down and sometimes I feel very afraid.

Fear can chip away at joy. It can suck the air out of a room. It can tie our hands and feet and keep us from moving forward. Fear won't let us envision a future that's any different from the present. And, if you're like me, you'll do almost anything to run away, to hide, to be free from the things that you fear.

After watching Harry Potter, I wondered what would happen if we could just stop running, turn around and face what scares us. Would the fear lose its power?

Like Harry's confrontation, maybe the things we fear will hurt us, and we'll learn that we were right to be afraid. But even that might be worth the pain if facing what you fear shrinks it down from insurmountable to a little more reasonable, or maybe even deflates it all the way.

I don't think I am up for writing the next iteration of The Gospel According to Harry Potter, but I will think for some time about the courage it takes to face the things we fear, and the possibility that what we fear is not so scary once we do.

Amy Butler is senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington. She blogs at Talk With the Preacher.

Source: ABP

Published July 30, 2011

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The opinions expressed on this page are the personal opinions of the writer and not necessarily the opinions of the Knoxville Daily Sun.


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