I recently took my family to Universal Studios in Florida. My 9 year old son LOVES Harry Potter…LOVES it! He’s read all the books in the series, including the peripheral books – The Cursed Child, Quidditch Through The Ages, and whatever else he can get his hands on.
The sole destination for him in this trip was Harry Potter world. Rides, attractions, and other features of the Universal theme park(s) were a very distant second.
We walked past the “night bus”, featured in Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, complete with a driver and the talking shrunken head with the Jamaican accent, so we decided to stop and take a picture.
The driver’s commitment to his character was impressive – he never broke character and was always “in” the Harry Potter universe. He spoke with a blue collar British accent. If not for our geography, I might have believed that he was a British bus driver.
As I took the picture, he asked me if I was from the Daily Prophet, the most widely-read magical newspaper. According to Pottermore, the Daily Prophet is delivered daily to nearly every wizarding household in Britain.
I replied, “of course”.
He looked at me in stunned disbelief. “Really?” he asked.
“To be printed in tomorrow’s edition,” I responded.
The driver looked like he’d won the lottery, boastful of his upcoming minute of fame. He played his role very well.
Fast forward a few weeks to Easter dinner at my in-laws’ house. The family was there to celebrate the death and rising of their lord and savior, commemorating the “historical” event where Jesus rose from the dead to alert his closest followers that he’s the new boss (Mthw 28:18-19).
As I was at this perfectly lovely family gathering, stuffing my face with mashed potatoes and ham (Jesus’s favorite pork product, dontcha know?), I found myself remembering the stunned look on the night driver’s face when he learned he might be featured in the magical newspaper.
The driver looked the way people look when they grapple with unlikely things.
Yet here we were, in a house jam-packed with mostly Protestant Christians (save for that one atheist in the corner with a plateful of forbidden meat), there to celebrate one of the most holy days of the year, and the kids are looking around the house for the baskets the Easter bunny strategically placed, while the adults talked about sports, cars, hunting, and the other things that are discussed at virtually every single other family gathering, regardless of the holy ambiance. No one had a hint of stunned disbelief or reverence for the unlikely holy day which served to save their eternal soul.
If they really believed these things, they would be going ape-shit. They would literally be unable to contain their excitement in the knowledge that their lord and savior conquered death on their behalves.
But they don’t believe it. Not really. They’ve repurposed Jesus into a meek and mild buddy figure – a stuffed animal or dashboard hula girl. Jesus is the better version of themselves who rescues them from their conflicted nature. He listens to them when no one else will. He’s the moral ideal who works on their behalf in a world full of dark wizards.
But they don’t really believe what Christianity asks them to believe. They believe a sweetened condensed version which ignores dangerous implications, and recasts Jesus as a modern and fun-loving gameshow host who, in contrast with the historical Jesus (assuming there was one), actually knows where the sun goes at night.
They live in the modern world where the supernatural serves no purpose except to expose the ignorance of the person arguing that it must exist. But like Harry Potter, I’m afraid these ideas belong in the fiction section.