Pastoral Counsel for Heartsick Muggles

Beliefnet's Pastor Paul offers words of comfort to those traumatized by events in 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.'

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And then I turn to Dumbledore and I think, "How could you have been so


?" Many of us struggle with disillusionment when we realize our heroes (like Dumbledore) are flawed, and struggle with the impulse to never trust anyone again when we witness betrayals like Snape's.

This is when we have to decide how we want to face the world. Do we respond to betrayal by approaching people with mistrust and suspicion? Or is trying to uncover the good in each person ultimately a better way to live? Shall we use the example of Voldemort or Dumbledore?

There was a time when I wanted to like Snape. Though that feeling is gone now, I do not believe that we should renounce a basic positive approach to people. Hatred, fear and distrust pave the way for those who practice the Dark Arts. Dumbledore told Harry that his greatest strength was Harry's ability to love and to show mercy. (HBP 511) Harry never became so bitter that he began to practice the Dark Arts--which ultimately would have made him into Voldemort's pawn.


This does not mean that we should be willfully ignorant of wrongdoing or blind to evil. It simply means that we should be very careful about deciding that someone doesn't deserve love and mercy. Think of Peter Pettigrew. While Harry regretted not killing him in the Prisoner of Azkaban, Dumbledore applauded his mercy, and told him "there may come a time when you are very glad that you saved Pettigrew's life." (POA 427-428) No matter how much Malfoy makes our stomach turn, no matter how much we distrust Snape, we should always opt for a prevailing attitude of love, even if sometimes it's tough love. Let us practice a love that sees the faults of our enemies in glaring Technicolor, but does not make us into what we despise.

Ultimately, the only one who warrants the title of Evil is Voldemort because he has cast himself in that mold. Evil must be destroyed and Harry is going to do it. One of the most powerful scenes in Half-Blood Prince is when Dumbledore explains Harry's advantage over Voldemort. Voldemort is frightened of Harry because of the prophecy, and is pursuing Harry because of his fear. In contrast, Harry is pursuing Voldemort because he "wants him finished" because of the horrors that he has visited upon so many of Harry's loved ones. Harry understands the difference between "being dragged into the arena to face battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high" (HBP 512) The hunted has become the hunter. The tables are about to be turned. Whether he can legally Apparate or not, Harry Potter has come of age.

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