// “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times…” //

“…if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
–Albus Dumbledore, the Harry Potter series

{Or, this Christian girl’s thoughts upon reading the Harry Potter series for the first time as a 19-to-20-year-old.}

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Growing up, I didn’t particularly mind that I wasn’t allowed to read Harry Potter. I trusted and respected my parents’ judgment call on that, and anyway, there were so many other books to read, so why would I waste time lamenting this crazy-popular series when I could be reading the likes of Anne of Green Gables and Pride and Prejudice?

But then I got interested in personality typing, and the internet’s take on it, towards the end of high school– and thus discovered this lovely and magical thing called the Hogwarts Houses, which I will attempt to explain very concisely here.

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**Images taken from Etsy; they’re prints from JustSayinCollection.

The above pictures show the general qualities of the type of students likely to be Sorted into each house when they start their first year of Hogwarts (the wizarding school in Scotland that they attend from age 11 to 18, which is basically a magical boarding school). That house is where they live and belong for the next seven years of their education. Personalities can vary widely within each house, but what unites the members is the way they view/use magic– and ultimately, what they value most:

“You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;

You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;

Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
if you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;

Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folks use any means
To achieve their ends.”

–the Sorting Hat’s song in the first Harry Potter book

(There are lots of Sorting quizzes on the Internet of various levels of accuracy, but if you’re interested in what house you’d end up in, this is a pretty good one! Buzzfeed has one as well, if you’re willing to try that one– it actually divides your Sorting into percentages of each house, which is cool. But a few of the questions have wizarding world lingo, so…)

So of course, with my interest in psychology and personality stuff, I had to know my house. And once I knew that, I had to know about the other houses so I could figure out which of my family members and friends would be in the houses.

(I’m a Hufflepuff, and very proud to be one! I even have a mug. A Hufflemug. It’s super cute. I’ve also rediscovered my love of the color yellow. [Note: I could just as easily be a Ravenclaw, but I’d want to be a Hufflepuff. As much as I love wisdom and creativity and intellect, I value justice and loyalty and kindness even more than those things])

Version 2

When you’re looking into the houses, you also end up finding out a lot about each of the characters. And spoilers for pretty much everything. (It’s rather hard to avoid spoilers for something as widely read and watched as Harry Potter at this point, though. Being on the Internet for any length of time means you stumble upon spoilers at some point, unless you’re actively trying to avoid them.)

Everything I learned about the series made me more intrigued to read it– and then, Matt got me the first book for Christmas in 2016 (right after I turned 19).

Long story short: I basically got into Harry Potter completely backwards, and also took an entire year to get through the series. I was technically reading the first book at the end of 2016, and the last one at the beginning of 2018. Younger-Em would’ve been horrified that it took me that long to finish just one book series. But that’s what college will do to you!

So, now that I’ve finally finished the series and had time to gather my thoughts on the matter, here are my Opinions™ on these books:

1.) As a Christian: I realize and respect that everyone feels differently about reading/watching Harry Potter as a believer, due to the story being about wizardry and magic. I approached this series with a watchful eye, ready to bail if anything set off what my dad calls my “baloney detector”– those little warning bells that start ringing in your brain when you know you’re reading something blatantly false and/or against your faith. However, the baloney detector never went off, and upon finishing the series I’ve concluded that it’s really no different than the likes of the Chronicles of Narnia and the Lord of the Rings series (fantasy works that are largely supported by many Christians). “Light magic” and “dark magic” are clearly defined, as are good and evil– and while some of the characters end up falling somewhere in the morally grey range, they still stand for what’s right when it counts, and it’s not the sort of overall grey relativity that makes me frustrated as a child of the Light, but rather the sort that simply makes for more complex and human characters who struggle with many of the same things we do (and have potential for redemption!). Goodness wins in the end, as it does in all the best stories, and unconditional love and sacrifice are hugely emphasized, and there’s so many good and true messages that we can take from this as believers! My cousin even took a class at Union University on Harry Potter and Christianity, and loved it; I’ve heard that there are some fascinating parallels that can be drawn between elements of this story and our own faith. All of this to say… you should definitely be discerning and follow your own convictions in deciding whether or not to read this, but if you’re strong in your faith and good at knowing the difference between fantasy and reality, I’d say go for it!

2.) As a reader: I don’t usually cry when reading books (with the notable exceptions of The Book Thief and the last book of the Wingfeather Saga), but I cried multiple times during this series– especially during the last book. (To quote Larry the Cucumber: “I laughed, I cried. It moved me, Bob.”) When a book can make me feel things deeply, make me laugh aloud one moment and cry over a character the next– that’s how you win my love as a reader. The story is compelling– the characters resonate deeply with you (it’s impossible to pick just one favorite)– and the fantasy elements are charming and fascinating, woven into the stories so seamlessly that it seems this magical world could easily and realistically exist alongside our own. This story is one of those that I’m glad I didn’t read until I was an adult, because I feel like I appreciate it (the themes, the characters, and even the world itself) much more at this point in my life than I would’ve as a kid or teenager. Its fame is definitely well-deserved, and I think it’ll be added to the classics of literature renown, to be read and analyzed for centuries to come (…or until Jesus comes back, if that time comes sooner rather than later).

3.) As a writer: It’s beautifully written. J.K. Rowling is an absolute genius at worldbuilding– years after the series has ended, she’s still releasing all these little details that expand and explain elements of this magical world of hers and the characters within, and it’s quite impressive. While reading the stories, you feel as if you’re right there alongside the characters in the wizarding world, and it almost, almost seems to really exist, if you didn’t know better. That’s truly the mark of a thoroughly developed (some might argue over-developed… but nah) fictional world, and the wonderfully vivid imagination that came up with it all. She’s also fantastic with putting deeper meaning behind everything, and I’m amazed at how complex and meaningful this series is, especially for one that so many people I knew read as kids. The only bone I have to pick with her writing-wise is that she keeps killing off all these fantastic characters (some of whom she’s admitted she decided “had to die” after she let another character live), but she does that beautifully as well, so I really can’t complain about it stylistically. J.K. Rowling and I wouldn’t get along at all if we ever met in person, as our worldviews are entirely opposite, but I have nothing but respect for her as a writer.

And now, the fun part: my favorite quotes, from the poignant to the downright hilarious (including the one from my title– that’s probably my number one favorite, if I had to choose).

“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” –Sirius Black

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” –Dumbledore

“After all, to the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.” –Dumbledore (As a Christ-follower, I particularly love this one!)

“Books! And cleverness! There are more important things– friendship and bravery.” –Hermoine Granger

“Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.” –Luna Lovegood

“Don’t worry, you’re just as sane as I am.” –Luna Lovegood

“We could have all been killed— or worse, expelled.” —Hermoine Granger

“We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” —Dumbledore

“The ones that love us never really leave us.” —Sirius Black

“Just because you’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have.” –Hermoine Granger

“Is it true that you shouted at Professor Umbridge?”
“Yes.”
“You called her a liar?”
“Yes.”
“You told her He Who Must Not Be Named is back?”
“Yes.”
“Have a biscuit, Potter.” –Professor McGonagall (She’s the BEST, y’all.)

“Do you remember me telling you we are practicing non-verbal spells, Potter?”
“Yes,” said Harry stiffly.
“Yes, sir.”
“There’s no need to call me ‘sir’ Professor.” –Professor Snape and Harry Potter (Iconic.)

“I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.” –J.K. Rowling

To make a rather long blog post short: I thoroughly enjoyed reading this series, and would recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it yet and who enjoys good fantasy– or at the very least is willing to try it.

(If you’ve read this far: Hi! I’m very impressed with you right now– even more so if you haven’t read or seen Harry Potter yet and this is all a very poorly explained mess to you right now. Thanks for reading all the way through; you’re the best, truly.)

{love always, Em}

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3 Replies to “// “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times…” //”

    1. Thank you so much, Evie! 🙂 I hope I did the Ravenclaw traits justice; some of my best friends are Ravenclaws, and my dad would be one as well if he knew what that was. xD But yeah– intelligence is great, but it isn’t *all* that defines Ravenclaws, and I think people tend to forget that. 🙂 (I think you’re plenty smart though! <3)

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