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.'

BY: Paul Raushenbush

 

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

stupid

?" 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.

What should give us the greatest comfort after these heavy blows is the love and friendship that has solidified in spite of the tragedy--or perhaps because of it: Harry and Ginny; Ron and Hermione; Neville and Luna; Tonks and Lupin; and the very touching, fierce commitment of Fleur to Bill Weasly, despite his disfigured face. When Lupin temporarily resists Tonks' feelings for him, Professor McGonagall responds: "Dumbledore would have been happier than anybody to think that there was a little more love in the world." (HBP 624)

Friendship and family are sources of strength in the midst of tragedy. As Harry and his friends prepare for the great battle to come, Harry's heart lifts "at the thought that there was still one last golden day of peace left to enjoy with Ron and Hermione." (HBP 652) Let us also feel the joy that comes with experiencing the reality of each moment without fearing for the next. Let us keep the spirit of Dumbledore alive, maintaining our faith in the basic goodness of each person and seeking the best in all of us. Ultimately, good will prevail.

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