We used to joke in college that “everyone’s a Christ figure” and if you need something to say, you can say, “he’s a Christ figure.” Right now, I’m thinking about how often that was, indeed, “he” and wondering about how many female characters might be Christ figures, but that’s a digression for another day.
After finishing writing the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling said something to the idea that she didn’t want to talk about her faith/religious beliefs before she finished the series because she didn’t want to give away the ending.
The Harry Potter series is not an allegory. The Chronicles of Narnia are not allegories either, though folks try to make them so. But Narnia has allegorical elements and it is a re-envisioning, in a different time and place, of the Christ story. Harry Potter, not so much. Yet…
Harry Potter IS a Christ figure. Rowling meant him to be and she wrote him that way and he is. He is not Christ in the sense that Aslan is Christ, but he is symbolic, an emblem, a pointer.
As I re-read the whole series after watching the final film (because I am one of those people) I was quietly attuned to this, and it becomes particularly apparent at the end, though, as with so many other parts of the series, it’s subtly built up ahead of time. During those last chapters, he is “the boy who lived.” And he walks out, alone, to face the one-who-is-afraid-to-die and allows himself to be killed. He gives himself up to save his world, his people. And then he comes back to life. And, beyond that, he is pure and innocent and Good, but he is not God. He figures Christ; he is a sign, a signifier even, but not the thing itself. And in the end, after he saves the world, he is able to live his life as an “ordinary” person. It’s good stuff.
As I kept reading, “the boy who lived,” I also kept thinking about something I read in Worship Words. Rienstra talks about using many names for God in Worship to emphasize various characteristics of God and not get stuck thinking about God in limited ways by using limited names/images for God. One of the names she suggests is The Living One (Revelation 1:18), and that has been echoing around in my head. Isn’t this one of the most important and amazing aspects of the God we love? God is not dead. Not even in the twenty-first century. The Living One. And, Rienstra says, this name also embodies the Trinity because I Am lives and if Jesus means anything at all, if he is/was truly God, then he lives–that’s the point–and God’s Spirit lives and moves and breathes within and among us. The Living One. Amen.