At the risk of being tarred and feathered by my more conservative friends, I would like to offer a short reflection on something I read in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Whatever your views on these books, I hope we can agree that all truth is God's truth. That is to say, anywhere truth arises, anywhere something truthful is portrayed, it belongs to God because God is the author of truth...even if its found in the pages of J.K. Rowling's bestselling series.
What follows is a short interchange between the young Harry Potter and his friend Hagrid, whom he has just met. Hagrid is the groundskeeper at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and a trusted friend of the Hogwarts headmaster, Albus Dumbledore. Here, Hagrid explains what the Ministry of Magic does on behalf of the school. "Muggles" are normal humans, non-magic folk, most of whom do not know that Hogwarts exists. Consider this carefully:
"There's a Ministry of Magic?" Harry asked, before he could stop himself.
"'Course," said Hagrid. "They wanted Dumbledore for Minister, o' course, but he'd never leave Hogwarts, so old Cornelius Fudge got the job. Bungler if there ever was one. So he pelts Dumbledore with owls every morning, askin' fer advice."
"But what does a Ministry of Magic do?"
"Well, their main job is to keep it from the Muggles that there's still witches an' wizards up an' down the country."
"Why? Blimey, Harry, everyone'd be wantin' magic solutions to their problems. Nah, we're best left alone."
Almost 2,000 years before J.K. Rowling penned these words, a homely rabbi named Jesus of Nazareth was teaching his students about the secrets of God's Kingdom. Jesus' students had difficulty understanding his simple stories, which were layered with meaning, and repeatedly had to request interpretation from their master. Finally, presumably fed up with the mysteries and secrets, they asked, "Why do you speak in parables?" Jesus' response was just as perplexing as his stories: "The secrets of the kingdom of God have been given for you to know, but to the rest it is in parables, so that 'looking they may not see, and hearing they may not understand'" (Matt 13:10-12;Luke 8:9-10).
Jesus went on to explain: "For this reason I speak to them in parables, because looking they do not see, and hearing they do not listen or understand. Isaiah's prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:
You will listen and listen,
yet never understand;
and you will look and look,
yet never perceive.
For this people's heart has grown callous;
their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
otherwise they might see with their eyes
and hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn back—
and I would cure them" (Matt 13:13-15).
In the world of Harry Potter it is the job of the Ministry of Magic to ensure that the secrets of the magic realm remain secrets. The Muggles cannot and would not understand the ways of witches and wizards because they are different people from a different world. They are governed by different rules, led by different values, and loyal to different causes. So, it is best that Muggles are not aware of what is going on in the world of Hogwarts, Dumbledore, and Hagrid. In a sense, until they have "ears to hear," they cannot understand. And, because they're Muggles by nature, they will never have "ears to hear." While Muggles go about their business in what they think is the "real world," Harry and his friends discover and learn to live within what is the real world.
In a parallel way, in the Kingdom of God, followers of Jesus are governed by different rules, led by different values, and loyal to a different cause. Those outside the Kingdom cannot and will not understand our ways because they are different people from a different world. Although touched by the working of God's Spirit and God's people every day, most people remain ignorant of what is going on in God's world. Because they do not have "ears to hear," because they are "looking but do not see," they will go on about their daily lives in what they think is the "real world." But, followers of Jesus discover and learn to live within what is the real world.
There is one important difference, however, between the world of Harry Potter and the Kingdom of God. By Hagrid's testimony, not only can Muggles never understand the magic realm, but also they should be completely shielded from it. In his mind, it is best both for Muggles and the world of wizards that Muggles remain "in the dark" about the nature of reality. Yet, the message that the Kingdom of God is here and Jesus is King must be proclaimed through all the world. Although many will continue "to look and not see" and "listen and not hear," some of the spiritual "Muggles" in our lives will, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, respond to the good news of God's reign and submit themselves to the rule of Jesus.
I'd love to read your thoughts on this reflection. Just be sure I can read it through the tar and feathers.