Thursday, March 15, 2012
In summer of 2009, I began reading the Harry Potter books for the first time, and I quickly fell in love with them. Before I even finished the first book, I had already bought the second and third books, wanting more and more to find out what happened next. I remember literally crying when I did finish that first book. Not just crying, but smiling uncontrollably as well, feeling nothing but pure joy rushing through my soul. That story was one of friendship, first and foremost, and at that time, I needed to believe I could make friends. That story is also about good overcoming evil, and I remember thinking as I read it, about how completely divine so much of it was. So much can so often go so wrong in this world, and yet here was a book emphasizing some of the most loving, wholesome, Godly themes I had ever read. It was magical in every sense. And I was completely hooked.
Over the next month and a half, I read through the entire series. I spent every chance I could to continue reading. I loved the characters, was enthralled by the story, and was captivated by the detailed settings. And when I had finished, I knew I had changed somehow.
Those books can put you into a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, especially from books four and on, and by the end I was literally drained, as well as speechless. I was dumbfounded. I saw one of the most beautiful stories ever written. It’s one of the greatest examples of love and goodness that has ever been written. It is one of making the right choices in life, and honoring all that is good. And it is one of redemption.
(Spoiler Alert) Throughout the entire series, Severus Snape is really a nasty sort of loathsome character. There’s virtually nothing about him to like. He’s a horrible teacher, mean to his students, uncaring about all others, devious to say the least. And yet, in the end, something is revealed about him that makes him one of the saddest, most virtuous, and redeemable characters in all of literature.
Severus Snape was a fallen person. He was a boy who’d grown up on the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak, never really having any positive influences or friends, other than that of a girl named Lilly. He and Lilly grew up together, as childhood friends, and he came to love her very much. As years passed, however, their friendship dwindled. Severus made choices that led him away from her, that drug him only into a world of darkness and evil, one which she wasn’t willing to accompany him. And it was his choices that led him to, in effect, cause the death of Lilly and her husband, leaving her son, Harry, an orphan.
Losing Lilly destroyed Severus. And it woke him up. He saw how clearly he’d made the wrong choices, how he’d placed his faith in the wrong things. And, unbeknownst to anyone other than Albus Dumbledore, and eventually Harry Potter, this caused him to change for the good. In the end, Harry would not have lived, nor defeated Voldemort, if not for the help of Severus Snape—help which he hid in the form of giving Harry detention, constantly following after him, working secretly in the midst of the enemy as a double agent, disgracing himself in the eyes of the good, and even killing his friend, Albus Dumbledore, to achieve. He allowed everyone to hate him in order to do what was right, and to make right the wrong he’d brought about. In the end, Severus Snape was a hero who loved and cared a great deal for Harry. In the end, Severus Snape was redeemed.
There are so many Christian themes within the Harry Potter storyline, but I think it is this one I like the most. And I know it is because I’ve done things wrong in my past that still to this day fill me so full of regret and self-hate. There are a lot of things I’ve done wrong that I wish so much I could take back. When I think of Severus Snape, I’m filled with hope for redemption. I’m reminded that I, too, can choose to do what is good, and fight for that which is good. I’m reminded that even though one’s past can haunt them, and perhaps even weigh them down on a daily basis sometimes, one’s future can be that of redemption. The best of us can be brought out into the light, and the worst wiped away.
And it is for that reason that I say Severus Snape is one of my most favorite literary characters of all time, and why I say I was left speechless and dumbfounded by the time I finished reading this series. I think it was in this that I saw for the first time how very powerful and beautiful Christ’s love for us is. I saw how much I truly need him in my life. To be redeemed by Him, to be forgiven.
That’s something so powerful that words can never fully express. But I thank J.K. Rowling for the story of Harry Potter, because through it, I know I became closer to Christ. Anything that does that must be worth mentioning.