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Chris Carpenter
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Escaping Harry’s Grasp No Easy Task

By Chris Carpenter Program Director - “Four channels!” I bellowed. “I never thought I would see the day again where we could only get four television channels.”

“Yes, and one of those is the Fox affiliate in Detroit,” my brother laughed wryly.

In addition to the aforementioned four fleeting pillars of civilization on our television set, we also discovered that our motel room, a stone’s throw from the pounding surf of the Atlantic, did not have a phone. Cell phone coverage was virtually non-existent. Completing our scene of technological tranquility, it would not have been out of the ordinary to see a moose go wandering down the street virtually unnoticed.

On the road with my favorite brother (ok, he is my only brother) for the first time in nine years, we had journeyed to the far fringes of eastern Canada to retrace our family’s paternal roots. And while we found everything we came looking for, even uncovering several family relics we hadn’t expected, I came away from our adventure disappointed. For you see, we could not escape Harry’s grasp.

Allow me to illustrate. In a general store across the street from our humble motel, far removed from the hustle bustle of what we consider civilization, a local merchant was furiously trying to keep up with the demand for the latest Harry Potter book. Tucked in between camp stoves, groceries, and assorted fishing tackle, were a quickly dwindling supply of the distinctly emerald colored “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince”.

“I would like 27 copies of the new Harry Potter book,” I joked, as I stepped to the counter to pay for my Diet Coke and beef jerky treats. “I want to make sure all the children in the village have a copy before I leave town tomorrow. Consider it my contribution to literacy in this fine community.”

Not amused, the haggard looking shopkeeper pointed to a spot in the far reaches of the cozy store and said, “Whatever we have left is back there by the meat case.”

I just smiled, gave the shopkeeper a knowing wink, and paid for what I had placed on the counter.

Later that evening, at the only fine dining establishment in this tiny seaside village, my brother gave me a nudge as we perused our menus. Having observed my interaction with the shopkeeper earlier at the general store with a great deal of amusement, he apparently wanted to see my reaction to what was transpiring behind me. I turned to see an attractive, vacationing family of four … a father, a mother, a daughter, and a son, preparing to eat a scrumptious looking lobster dinner. However, there was a slight problem. The daughter, approximately 11 years old, refused to put down the all too familiar emerald colored book to eat her lobster. Despite the cajoling of both parents, the young girl was so engrossed by the contents of “The Half Blood Prince”, that she consumed not a single morsel. Why? So she could churn out about 50 more pages of the young wizard, Hermione, and the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft before bedtime.

Because the next two days were spent in and out of family cemeteries, my brother and I had little, if any opportunity to be dazzled by “Harry Fever” (not to be confused with hay fever) as it swept through the Maritime Provinces.

That all changed upon our re-entry to the United States two days later. Visiting the small town on the Canadian border where my brother and I had been born, we opted to poke our heads into a small, antiquated, independently owned bookshop at the epicenter of the downtown area. For perspective, it is the kind of place where a hand-operated cash register is the norm not the exception.

The shop’s door had not even resettled on its hinges when a distinct, authoritative voice, boomed, “You want Potter?”

My brother and I turned to face a wispy, gray haired man, approaching us from behind a merchandise weary counter. He continued brusquely, “Because if you do, we don’t have any. Sold it all on Saturday. I have never seen so many of those little rascals in my store at one time. Kind of a weird bunch. A lot of them were wearing those round glasses like the Potter kid wears. A few even said they could cast a spell on me. Well, let me tell you, no little 10 year old wearing round glasses is going to cast a spell on Harvey Henderson.”

My brother and I couldn’t help but chuckle, knowing full well that Harvey had been a victim of the runaway marketing blitz of Scholastic Books and J.K. Rowling. It had reduced a stalwart merchant in the local community to a boisterous, argumentative, codger.

As I left Harvey Henderson’s little book shop that afternoon I couldn’t help but wonder why Jesus Christ does not have the same type of effect on people that a fictional school boy with direct ties to the occult seems to have. Why aren’t stores struggling to keep the Holy Bible on the shelf? Why aren’t more children refusing to eat their dinner so they can read more about Him? Why aren’t gentrified shopkeepers complaining about 10 year old evangelists proselytizing in their stores?

The evidence in Harry’s favor seems to be undeniable:

First day sales of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” were undeniably high, 6.9 million copies sold in the U.S. and two million more in Britain alone.

Potter purists contend that the “magic” of the J.K. Rowling series lies in its cross generational appeal. Simply put, the books work on all levels as both children and adults can easily lose themselves in plots of mystery, intrigue, and a fantasy world of potions and spells.

Finally, Rowling’s books serve as a window to the world, illuminating current events in full detail. One needs to look no further than chapter one in “The Half Blood Prince” to discover reports of widespread terror in London.

Pundits claim the Potter books are all about good overcoming evil through the aid of loyalty to friends and of course love for our fellow man.

But one rather critical element is missing. There is no hope. While the Harry Potter series provides children (and adults) with the amazing opportunity to improve upon their literacy while becoming immersed in a world of fantasy, the simple truth is Jesus saves and Harry doesn’t.

In the Old Testament book of Jeremiah (29:11), it says, “For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

The light that illuminates darkness is hope. Our dreams for tomorrow, our expectations, our desires – all define hope. Hope also includes trust, confidence, and refuge in God. As Christians, we know our future belongs to God, for now and ever more.

He listens when we pray. He answers when we call upon Him. When we search for Him, He can always be found. God personally cares for each and every one of us.

No offense Harry, but you do not provide any shred of hope. You may have your half blood prince but Jesus Christ is a full blooded King.

Portions contained within this article from the Transformer Study Bible.

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