When I was a child my favourite story was about a wizard called Timbertwig and he had a pointy hat where a spider use to live. They would have many wonderful adventures together in this magical world. As soon as I left the wonder and innocence of childhood and sped towards the agony of teenage years, I found myself enjoying Lord of the Rings. These huge books would be devoured in a matter of days as I immersed myself in a hobbits tale. I loved the beauty of it, the story, the landscape and this other world that just paints delights in my mind! Then I was flung into my twenties like a rabbit hitting a headlight and I have remained loving Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Harry Potter and Discworld. That’s right, I am the kind of person that reads Sci-fi and fantasy books and enjoys every second of it!
Many people have asked me why I enjoy such books and whether I should be more rooted in reality? My answer is probably not well thought out, but I think in a way these types of books represent a form of reality that can’t be ignored because they are a mirror, holding up an image of what they see within our dreams and lives. Think of all the books you have read, there is always some sort of Hero – a dream of having a saviour, having someone who takes away our pain, whisks us off our feet and makes the evil go away. We are safe in their arms and we clutch hold of the pages that are written about them. We love heroes. We also have villians, the evil guy who plots distruction and yet we know they wont win. Evil doesn’t win. We see this in Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Our Hero fights (Gandalf, Frodo, Harry) against the evil one (Salron, Voldermort) and there is a battle, clashing of swords or wands, there is a sacrifice, we hold our breath… the hero rises.
We had an interesting conversation at one of the CU’s about whether we can use Harry Potter as part of a film and discussion night. Can we use a film that has magic in it to tell the Gospel? Well, I somehow don’t see that the magic is the point of the story – its all about the battle, the hero and villian and the sacrifice with various themes of love and friendship… I think we can draw upon them to show how tehy reflect something of the Gospel, but of course the boy who lives will not live forever but Jesus will and so we can point to the Gospel and say – “Here is the true hero.”