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    Dunadwarf

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    Harry Potter

    Post  Dunadwarf on August 23rd 2010, 2:56 pm

    I just finished "Deathly Hallows" last night, and I loved it! I know the book's been out for a few years now, but I wondered if anyone wanted to share their thoughts on it. Feel free to discuss movie stuff here, too.
    (I hope I don't SPOIL this for anyone who hasn't read/watched all the way through...you read at your own peril)
    Firstly, I like how Voldemort was the materialist. Often in Sci-fi and Fantasy (though much more in Sci-fi) the rational, good people are those who stay grounded in "reality", that is (in the author's mindset) the proveable world. Think about it. How often is the villain of a story some sort of religious zealot fanatically supporting an "incorrect", supernatural perspective. The books clearly describe Voldemort as despising a deeper view of life, especially in his absolute insistence that death is the worst thing a person can experience, which both the hero and his mentor agree is incorrect. There are worse things, an implied, Hellish (or at least greatly diminished and pathetic) afterlife for Voldemort certainly is worse than the death he inflicts on others.
    There are other things I'd like to discuss, but let's just start with this issue and see where it goes from there!

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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  Hackmodford on August 23rd 2010, 3:29 pm

    I've always avoided Harry Potter myself so I can't relate Neutral


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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  Paeter on August 23rd 2010, 9:21 pm

    Been awhile since I read it, but I never noticed that before. Very perceptive! I should try to get my sister on here. She's a Harry Potter nut (I read the books for her, though I did enjoy them.) and would totally be able to compare notes.


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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  KLN on August 24th 2010, 2:00 am

    Dunadwarf- I'm not really sure I'm following your train of thought, and I've thought about the Harry Potter World A LOT. I guess I think of every villain as materialistic and despising deeper things in life. If any villain really delved into the deeper things in life they would realize how horrible they were. Can you clarify your point for me a little more so I can see how you're viewing Voldemort as a different type of villain? Perhaps the problem is that I'm not as familiar with your "typical" villain, since Harry Potter is more my style than sci-fi.

    What did you think about all of the parallels between Harry Potter and the Bible? I think it's interesting that there was so much controversy over how horrible Harry Potter is, and how it encourages witchcraft, but then the story ends with a boy being willing to give his life for those that he loved, because he was the chosen one! I bet you anything that now youth pastors are using the storyline as a way to help kids relate to Jesus. And it will probably happen even more once the last movie is out, and they can show a clip to lead into their lessons. I think there were just as many Christian lessons to be learned from those books as Lord of the Rings or Narnia.

    My husband and I are going to Harry Potter World at the end of October, so I'll probably be rereading the series soon for the 5th or 6th time. I'm sure I might have more input as my memory gets refreshed.

    Paeter-Do you suppose you can read Hunger Games for me now that you "got me on here"? It only seems fair...

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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  ProfessorAlan on August 24th 2010, 10:37 am

    I enjoyed the books, and liked how it ended -- even the epilogue.

    Rowling is not an evangelical by any means, but clearly she is familiar with the Christian story and Christian symbolism. It is all over the place.

    SQPN is a podcast network, run by a Catholic priest in the Netherlands, and they produce a "Secrets of Harry Potter" podcast that discusses the literary and spiritual aspects of the movies & books.

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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  mindspike on August 24th 2010, 11:09 am

    KLN wrote:What did you think about all of the parallels between Harry Potter and the Bible? I think it's interesting that there was so much controversy over how horrible Harry Potter is, and how it encourages witchcraft, but then the story ends with a boy being willing to give his life for those that he loved, because he was the chosen one! I bet you anything that now youth pastors are using the storyline as a way to help kids relate to Jesus. And it will probably happen even more once the last movie is out, and they can show a clip to lead into their lessons. I think there were just as many Christian lessons to be learned from those books as Lord of the Rings or Narnia.

    Wow, it seems to me you may have missed some things in the Harry Potter worldview. Arguments about witchcraft entirely aside - Harry's status as a "chosen" has nothing to do with Harry's spiritual condition. He is "chosen" due to the twin circumstance of Voldemort choosing to kill him personally and his mother sacrificing her life for him. This effectively removes Harry from any standing as a messiah figure; ordinary familial love is idealized as the means of sanctification without any need for justification, a theme throughout all seven books. When characters display righteousness through love, it is always for family and friends, never enemies.

    Justice for evil action is dispensed karmically, the result of the natural consequence of evil itself. Voldemort's destruction does not come from Harry's sacrifice, but from compounded sins in the fracturing of his own soul through murder. Harry died because Voldemort overpowered him emotionally and physically. Harry lived and Voldemort died because Harry experienced intellectual enlightenment, understanding that by allowing Voldemort to complete his goal that the end would be destruction instead of immortality. This is held out as the natural end of all things, a theme first presented somewhat obliquely in "Sorceror's Stone".

    At the end of the cycle, death is considered the end of physical life, and a natural consequence of physicality. With difficulty, one can extrapolate views about spiritual afterlife based on the presence of ghosts and the behavior of photographs, but that theme is never consciously addressed.

    ProfessorAlan wrote:Rowling is not an evangelical by any means, but clearly she is familiar with the Christian story and Christian symbolism. It is all over the place.

    I find no Christian message or symbolism in the Harry Potter stories, in any way. Virtue is inherent in the protagonists; the need for salvation is absent. Evil is intrinsic to the villains; the possibility for salvation does not exist. The themes of the story may be summed up in: "love your neighbor, hate your enemy"; and "evil is self-destructive".

    Quite apart the use of magic as a fantasy element, the Harry Potter cycle is rooted firmly in secularism/New Age self-realization. Neither the allegorical stories of Narnia, nor the moral certitude and mythological parallelism of Lord of the Rings exist in any form.

    I enjoyed the books a great deal; I own all seven hardcovers. Rowling is an imaginative writer who did her best work in books three and four. But these books are best left to the realm of casual enjoyment and a means to stimulate the imagination. Well meaning as it might be, I would never use them to help kids "relate to Jesus".

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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  ProfessorAlan on August 24th 2010, 11:21 am

    mindspike wrote:Well meaning as it might be, I would never use them to help kids "relate to Jesus".

    I certainly did not say that. What I meant to imply is that the books would score high on Paeter's Relevance score. They are steeped in biblical and Christian concepts & imagery, though I agree not as much in Christian theology.

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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  mindspike on August 24th 2010, 11:46 am

    ProfessorAlan wrote:
    mindspike wrote:Well meaning as it might be, I would never use them to help kids "relate to Jesus".

    I certainly did not say that. What I meant to imply is that the books would score high on Paeter's Relevance score. They are steeped in biblical and Christian concepts & imagery, though I agree not as much in Christian theology.

    The "relate to Jesus" quote was from KLN's post, not yours. Sorry if that got confused.

    On Paeter's Relevance Scale, I'd have a hard time getting to meaningful conversation from the Harry Potter books. Our HP conversations always seem to center around the mechanics of his magic; theme within this series is never strongly developed, and certainly I find the actions of the characters are never as compelling as the richness of the landscape.

    As for Christian imagery and concepts - I have a hard time spotting these as well. Everything I see in these books flows naturally either toward self-empowerment or the balance of karma, New Age/secularism and Hinduism respectively. What am I missing?


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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  Dunadwarf on August 24th 2010, 6:00 pm

    I'm loving this discussion so far, though I think some examples would be apt.
    First, as far as KLN's question...many works of fiction, sci-fi especially as it is a technologically-oriented sub-genre, place knowledge above faith, often to the point of displaying those of a faith (any faith) as, if not evil, at least fundamentally flawed. How many times have you seen/read a story where the hero(es) opposed some sort of religious institution or cult. I don't mean a story with opposing spiritual sides (like a lot of fantasy), but where, for example, knowledge is suppressed by a Church-analog and must be spread by the hero(es) in defiance of this. Rarely is the banned knowledge representative of any kind of faith or spirituality. The most common type of this story is a cultural view of the origin of their society, when the hero(es) discovers that the world has a learnable origin and the establishment, often using some sort of religious logic and/or terminology, rejects this in favor of the legends they already have. It's a bit vague, I know, but it's a common thread.
    Star Trek, for one, is very guilty of this, usually portraying religious people as dupes of a corrupt and deceptive system (TNG: "Devil's Due" & Voyager's "Distant Origin" are 2 glaring examples) while the scientific, materialistic (which means that nothing exists that cannot be understood in a purely scientific way given sufficient information) characters are the noble and good ones.

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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  Dunadwarf on August 24th 2010, 6:12 pm

    I hope that answered your question, KLN.
    Back to Potter:
    I agree that Harry Potter is not a Christian series, but I believe that ProfessorAlan was referring to general Christian values and symbols in the saga, not the author's intent.
    Deliberate, personal sacrifice is one of the recurring themes of the story. How many times does a good character knowingly give something up to benefit another? James, Lily, Snape, Sirius, Dumbledore and Harry are just a few, each of which giving that ultimate sacrifice of their lives to serve the greatest cause of all: love. Is that a Christian value? Absolutely. Is it pure Christian doctrine? No. Mindspike makes clear that the values are basic and thin, and don't hold up to deep comparison. I believe that any spiritual value in these stories must be taken at that shallow level, where many secular works (Star Wars, The Matrix & Batman, to name a few) can also be used to demonstrate an aspect of Christ.
    Jesus is bigger than America, bigger than the Church, bigger than the Bible, even. Before I'm misinterpreted...no, I'm not suggesting that the Bible is only one means of knowing God. It is the inerrant Word of God and salvation is laid out only therein. However, God is bigger than the limitations of any language, just as a marriage is far more than the legal language of the marriage license they signed. If God is revealed in Creation (read Romans 1, which Paeter is going through on ISOT now, for one of many biblical claims of that), why are we surprised that God is also revealed in those universal story concepts that the greatest stories of any age and culture access?

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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  Paeter on August 24th 2010, 8:31 pm

    mindspike wrote:
    KLN wrote:What did you think about all of the parallels between Harry Potter and the Bible? I think it's interesting that there was so much controversy over how horrible Harry Potter is, and how it encourages witchcraft, but then the story ends with a boy being willing to give his life for those that he loved, because he was the chosen one! I bet you anything that now youth pastors are using the storyline as a way to help kids relate to Jesus.

    Wow, it seems to me you may have missed some things in the Harry Potter worldview. Arguments about witchcraft entirely aside - Harry's status as a "chosen" has nothing to do with Harry's spiritual condition. He is "chosen" due to the twin circumstance of Voldemort choosing to kill him personally and his mother sacrificing her life for him. This effectively removes Harry from any standing as a messiah figure.


    I find no Christian message or symbolism in the Harry Potter stories, in any way.

    Well meaning as it might be, I would never use them to help kids "relate to Jesus".


    I think I can see where you're coming from on this, Mindspike. Though I certainly don't rule out KLN's reasoning. Granted, she's my sister, so there may be a touch of bias, but at the end of the day, symbolism and metaphor,intended by the creator or otherwise, only go so far before they reach their limitations. Much like metaphors that attempt to describe God.

    In this case, I think Harry, Neo and any hero who is set apart with a unique role of "solitary, self-sacrificing, champion against evil", acts as a symbol of Christ.

    In that regard, I can easily see HP as a tool to help others relate to Jesus and his role on our behalf as champion and sacrifice, especially if they are hardcore HP nuts who pretty much limit their geekdom to the HP world. (And there are quite a few of those out there.)


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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  Paeter on August 24th 2010, 8:37 pm

    KLN wrote:

    Paeter-Do you suppose you can read Hunger Games for me now that you "got me on here"? It only seems fair...

    WHaa? Wink

    We'll see... Takes longer to read a book than it does to type up one post.

    lol!

    Thanks for swingin' by! And check your e-mail. I sent you a barnes and noble coupon for the new Hunger Games book that was sent to me.

    See ya!


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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  KLN on August 25th 2010, 12:55 am

    Dunadwarf- I think I see what you're getting at with the knowledge vs. faith concept. Are you implying that the roles were swapped, and normally the hero seeks knowledge and opposes obsessive religious views, and in HP Voldemort seeks knowledge and opposes faith of life beyond death? Because I still think that his obsession with never dying could be seen as a form of faith, even though he used his knowledge to get to the point of securing immortality. I think it ends up being a word thing, where we see the villain being after the same things, but how we describe it would be slightly different.

    Mindspike- I'm sorry that you didn't like my view of HP. Wink I agree that he is a poor representation of JC, but I still think he can and will be used allegorically for JC. It's my understanding that there is very little argument that Superman is considered a Christ-figure, and I'm pretty sure that he had no intentions to sacrifice himself for anyone evil. So his representation is also poor. That's the beauty of Jesus Christ's sacrifice. There's no perfect comparison, because His sacrifice was so amazingly perfect. But if some kid is going to be able to get a glimpse of what that means by me referring to what Harry Potter had to do in the 7th book, then I'm all for it. You guys might find this article interesting: http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1572107/20071017/story.jhtml
    In it, JKR says it was her intent to use religious symbolism from the start. So even if you don't see it, it's there.

    Paeter- It's true that it takes longer to read a book than write a post, but I think a lot of your fans would like Hunger Games, so you could clock it under work/research time. Very Happy

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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  Paeter on August 25th 2010, 1:16 am

    KLN wrote:

    Paeter- It's true that it takes longer to read a book than write a post, but I think a lot of your fans would like Hunger Games, so you could clock it under work/research time. Very Happy

    lol!

    Freakin' hilarious. Maybe I should start a poll to see how many listeners would like me to postpone the Spirit Blade Special Edition and the podcast so that I can read hunger games...


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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  mindspike on August 25th 2010, 10:27 am

    KLN wrote:Mindspike- I'm sorry that you didn't like my view of HP. Wink I agree that he is a poor representation of JC, but I still think he can and will be used allegorically for JC. It's my understanding that there is very little argument that Superman is considered a Christ-figure, and I'm pretty sure that he had no intentions to sacrifice himself for anyone evil. So his representation is also poor. That's the beauty of Jesus Christ's sacrifice. There's no perfect comparison, because His sacrifice was so amazingly perfect. But if some kid is going to be able to get a glimpse of what that means by me referring to what Harry Potter had to do in the 7th book, then I'm all for it. You guys might find this article interesting: http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1572107/20071017/story.jhtml In it, JKR says it was her intent to use religious symbolism from the start. So even if you don't see it, it's there.

    Well, I heard somewhere that what men mean for ill, God intends for good. If you can get from Harry Potter to a Christian lesson, don't let stuffy ole me stop you! Very Happy I tend to focus on themes of salvation and the need for salvation when searching for Christianity in popular media.

    As for Rowling's religious symbolism - I've no wish to repeat college campus arguments here. My stance is that if it is not expressed clearly, then it is absent, or a failure. As a corollary, if the thoughts and symbolism clearly expressed were not the author's intent, we have another failure of expression.

    Superman gets his own thread. I don't want to mix him up with Harry Potter; everyone knows Superman is vulnerable to magic!!!


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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  Paeter on August 25th 2010, 11:46 am

    mindspike wrote:My stance is that if it is not expressed clearly, then it is absent, or a failure. As a corollary, if the thoughts and symbolism clearly expressed were not the author's intent, we have another failure of expression.

    I think this is probably the key to reconciling our different perspectives on this. I think it's cool when creators intentionally and clearly present truth, but neither of these needs to be initiated by them in order for it to come across. I believe God is completely sovereign and if he wants he can reveal truth in the midst of falsehood and use a non-Christian source to do it. There may be a "failure of expression" on the part of the human creators. But if scriptural truth can be highlighted to someone by comparison to the art in question, then God has successfully expressed truth in that art.

    In the same way that Paul quoted secular poets of his day to highlight truth spoken by God, I think we can look for ways in which secular art parallels truth and highlight those points ourselves.

    I also think it's valuable to see the points of divergence from scriptural parallel in art. The nature of these kinds of parallels is that some points will line up and others will not. They are neither perfect illustrations of truth, nor should they be thrown out for their points of divergence from truth if they can still be used to launch meaningful discussion.



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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  ProfessorAlan on August 25th 2010, 3:25 pm

    [quote="mindspike] My stance is that if it is not expressed clearly, then it is absent, or a failure. As a corollary, if the thoughts and symbolism clearly expressed were not the author's intent, we have another failure of expression.
    [/quote]

    I haev to disagree with you on both points, actually.

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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  Dunadwarf on August 25th 2010, 5:12 pm

    I also disagree with you, Mindspike. Since Tolkien makes clear in the foreward of "Lord of the Rings" that he intended no symbolism, there would be no symbolic value to LotR if what you say is true. In fact, I think he distinguishes the two with the terms "allegory" (deliberate, one-to-one, complex symbolism) and "applicability" (the reader pulls the meanings you wish out of the work). Is Harry Potter a Christian allegory? Absolutely not, just as LotR is not. Does it have Christian applicability? I believe it does.
    However, I think we've gone on a bit of a tangent now. While this is a good thing to discuss, I was hoping we'd go a little more into the details of the story and not into metaphysics and archetypes.
    Here's a question...
    Could it be argued that, as Dumbledore stated was possible, Neville Longbottom actually served as the Chosen One by being the one who made Voldemort mortal and dooming him?

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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  mindspike on August 25th 2010, 11:32 pm

    And after a sharp course correction, we're back on Harry Potter!

    Dunadwarf wrote:Could it be argued that, as Dumbledore stated was possible, Neville Longbottom actually served as the Chosen One by being the one who made Voldemort mortal and dooming him?

    I would think the answer lies with the wording of the prophecy.

    Sybill Trelawney wrote:The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches...Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies...and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not...and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives....

    This clearly refers to Harry, both to Harry's scar and the Power of Love. I believe Harry also delivered the death blow. Personally, I'm impressed by the method of storing the prophecies, as well as the sheer number of recorded prophetic sayings. Do you think they use the Dewey decimal system?


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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  Guest on August 26th 2010, 2:38 am

    Harry Potter, well...it makes for a very fun new addition to the Lego Wii games that my wife and I are into.

    Who am I kidding? I can't resist. I think it's a very interesting series, with a most extraordinary evolution and development in terms of sophistication, from the simple story of The Philosopher's Stone, to the overwhelming detail of The Deathly Hallows. Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire are a major high for the series, while The Order of the Phoenix takes a little more effort to "get" but may well be the more superior work. The Half-Blood Prince is a bit of a hiccup, yet also a thankless book for setting up the finale, and Chamber of Secrets has an astonishingly good plot driving events, even though it's a tad "sequel-ish" (especially if you are considering the movie version).

    A fairly random trend I've observed about how the books characterize Harry regarding truth and falsehood, particularly strongly in the latter part of the series: every time Harry bends the truth, or exaggerates, or understates in a significant way, his quotation is unabiguously qualified with "Harry lied." He doesn't do it that often, but the reader always has no way of rationalizing it for Harry. And he carries the scars of punishment for telling the truth on his hand, "I must not tell lies."

    We discover some interesting things about what he will and will not do in his fight against the The Dark Lord and his mean-spirited followers. Angered strongly enough, he will use the curse that causes agony. Similar to Paeter's observations about the Jedi in his review for The Phantom Menace, in a desparate circumstance he will overpower another person's freedom and control their actions.

    Harry also never even considers the killing curse an option, even when his opponents are freely, gleefully homicidal. Even when he's told by an old mentor "This is a War, you can't hold back," he doesn't consider it an acceptable alternative. There is something satisfying about Harry giving Voldemort fair warning that it might not be a good idea to try and kill him that last time, yet still only fights defensively and let Voldemort shoot himself in the foot (so to speak).

    Regarding the whole Chosen One thing, well, certainly people can spot out parallels with Jesus that are deliberate, and we can articulate where the story differs from what happens in the New Testament. Some story writers are deliberate, others less so. I agree that the 1978 Superman movie deliberately echoes the New Testament: "That is why I have sent them you, my only son." The writers who adapted The Lord of the Rings into the movies saw Frodo as a chosen savior, the original author didn't develop it that way. Paul Verhoven deliberately intention to echo Christ's crucifixion in Robocop. Alien 3 deliberately amalgamates the creation myth and Jesus's salvation story, odd as that may seem. I always joke that the Star Wars galaxy got a raw deal on their messiah. It's fun to pick apart how these stories differ from their inspiration, and I think we can understand better that core story through the process of this game.

    The final component I will comment on is the character of Voldemort. In this character, we have a different viewpoint from that of George Lucas's starting point with Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. Lucas offers the perspective that no villain started out evil, a laudable notion. Voldemort quite possibly never was, he may have always been a human in appearance only. The books never use the word to classify him, but he has all the characteristics of a person who had no conscience, or remorse. I think he was a sociopath, or maybe is better identified by the more popular term, psychopath. It's one thing to try to love or endure the ultimate sacrifice for your enemies, who hate you, yet still are influenced by a conscience. A sacrifice for an enemy with a conscience can have impact, change a mind, make a person a better human. Sacrifice your life for someone without a conscience, what would that accomplish? How many good people could be sacrificed in the hope that a person without conscience might eventually understand remorse?

    Anyway, that's probably enough for one post.

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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  Dunadwarf on August 27th 2010, 6:37 pm

    I agree that symbolism can only be taken so far, and can never replace the concept being symbolized.
    One tricky point is that, what is a loving act by a real and Absolute God becomes a weak point in a story. Stories do not mirror reality, only the portion(s) of reality the author chooses to reflect. Sort of how no RPG, no matter how detailed, could come near to truly simulating a months-long quest of walking and sleeping and eating (nor should it since that'd be utterly boring).
    If Harry died to redeem Voldemort, which would make him a more analogous Christ-type, the readers would see this as a frustrating end, whether or not Voldemort repented. Let's think about it. What if Luke died to redeem Vader? Could we, the viewers, truly let Vader off the hook for the uncountable murders and evils he had committed?
    This does reflect Jesus though. Many believe that He has no right to forgive serial killers and rapists. Imagine your sister having been brutally murdered, after vicious assault after assault, and then standing before God and seeing her killer in Heaven, having had a last-second repentance before his execution, while your sister is in Hell for having never done that. No amount of doctrine or Bible-quoting could allay your anger at God. The fact is that only God has the right to forgive because only God can know what it truly means to do so.
    That's why we shouldn't delve too deeply into the mechanics of Christ-types. They will all come up short. Just like Jesus' parables, we should keep the comparisons shallow and use only the relevant similarities to make our points, knowing that those symbols can only do good if they really do lead to a person getting to know, in a personal and real way, the REAL Jesus.
    Also, what was the point of the Troll in Sorcerer's Stone?

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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  Guest on August 27th 2010, 10:55 pm

    The Troll in the first story is a catalyst for bringing together Harry, Ron and Hermione into a more harmonious relationship. There was antagonism between Harry and Ron on the one hand, and Hermione on the other. The Troll brought about a life or death situation, which bonded them into a trio.

    Dunadwarf

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    Re: Harry Potter

    Post  Dunadwarf on August 31st 2010, 2:54 pm

    And a point of contact for the central thread of someone's attempt to break into the vault and steal the stone.
    What did you guys think of Half-Blood Prince: Book VS Movie? That one had by far the most numerous and significant deviations. Improvements over the book?

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