Well, at long last the final Harry Potter movie has finally come and I must say it is bittersweet. It has been almost 14 years since Harry made his way into our family. I admit that I originally started reading them because I had heard so much negative about witchcraft but my wife and daughter were insisting that the books were wonderful, so I decided to find out for myself. Needless to say, I fell in love with the books and the three of us greatly enjoyed introducing my son to Harry as soon as we could.
As I made my way through the books trying to catch up to my wife and daughter, they would quiz me each night during dinner to get my thoughts and determine which clues I was onto and what I was thinking about the books. It became a family past time to discuss theories and answer trivia each night at dinner. Great times!
The release of the final movie in the series has been emotional for all of us. The four of us have realized how much Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Snape, and most definitely Fred & George have been a part of our lives. I am not sure we are ready to let them go. I find myself asking why? True, J.K. Rowling weaves a masterful story. True, the
characters are well-developed and we are emotionally attached. True, the cannon of material contains 7 very large books of exquisite detail.
I think it is the themes, more than anything, we resonate with. Who wouldn’t want to discover that our very ordinary self is truly very extraordinary? Who hasn’t felt they are not understood? Who could live with the Dursleys?? Who isn’t afraid to be alone or felt like they can’t go on after they lost someone they loved? Harry has certainly had his share of loss. In fact, many of the characters have experienced major losses in their lives. You
could say that this is one of the central themes in the books.
While the movies have glossed over it, J.K. Rowling says that the two verses that appear on the gravestones in the cemetery at Godric’s Hollow summarize the entire series. The first is the inscription found on the tombstone of Albus Dumbledore’s mother and sister:
Hermione was two rows of tombstones away; he had to wade back to her, his heart positively banging in his chest. “Is it – ?”
“No, but look!”
She pointed to the dark stone. Harry stooped down and saw , upon the frozen granite, the words Kendra Dumbledore and, a short way down her dates of birth and death, and Her Daughter Ariana. There was also a quotation: Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:21)
The second was inscribed on Harry’s parents’ tombstone: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:26)
I loved the way this video marries the movie to the book. If you look closely, you can see the scripture on the bottom of the tombstone.
Why would J.K. Rowling say that these two scriptures sum up the entire series?
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven… for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mt. 6:19-20a, 21)
Why would Dumbledore chose this for their tombstone?
We learned in Deathly Hallows that a youthful Albus Dumbledore was more concerned with fame, glory, and pursuit of his dreams than he was about his family and disabled sister Arianna who needed taken care of after Albus’ mother passed away. In a tragic series of events, Arianna was accidentally killed during a disagreement between Albus and his dangerous friend Grindelwald.
The devastating grief over the loss of his mother and sister as well as the realization of the choices he made, caused Dumbledore to become the man who Harry eventually met. A very powerful man who was both wise and humble and whose priority was in nuturing and protecting his students. Even those who would do him harm.
By the end of Dumbledore’s life, Albus Dumbledore had stored up the kinds of treasures that do not die with him, but remain to help Harry and the rest continue the fight against the Dark Lord Voldemort. Treasures such as wisdom, courage, light, and love.
C.S. Lewis once wrote “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” I believe that the grief and pain Dumbledore endured, brought about remorse and change. We commonly refer to this as repentance. Voldemort, on the other hand, has chosen a different path, ferreting away his very soul into valuable objects, of power and of influence, to escape his fear of death.
Here is an excerpt from the final battle between Harry and Voldemort:
Dumbledore’s last plan went wrong, Harry Potter!” “Yeah, it did.” said Harry. “You’re right. But before you try to kill me, I’d advise you think what you’ve done . . . . Think, and try for some remorse, Riddle. . . .” “It’s your one last chance, … it’s all you’ve got left. . . . I’ve seen what you’ll be otherwise. . . . Be a man. . . try. . . Try for some remorse. . .”
Rowling’s second scripture reference marks a shift in the story’s focus from the treasures of this world to the mysteries of the next: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” At first Harry was offended by the inscription on his parents’ grave:
“Isn’t that a Death Eater idea? Why is that there?” Hermione gently helps interpret: “It means… you know… living beyond death. Living after death.”
Sirius Black does a great job of trying to explain this concept to Harry near the end of this video.
In the end, all the Horcruxes have been destroyed and Tom Riddle and Harry Potter square off in a battle between power and humility, fear and love, murder and self-sacrifice, death and life. “For as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ… The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor. 15: 22, 26)
In the end, Harry will discover exactly what this passage means. Death has pursued Harry since he was a baby, but no more; Harry takes off his invisibility cloak and willingly gives himself over by laying down his own life. Harry, with his wand in his pocket to prevent self-defense, offers his life freely in love. Instead of living in fear of death, Harry has made death his moment of glory. It is the last enemy.
Much as we find in the story of Jesus, we learn that after Harry’s willing sacrifice, Voldemort’s spells against the gathered crowd don’t seem to hold, recalling another passage : “O Death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55) Finally, like Christ, Harry destroys death by disarming it.