As I write this, we're about 27 hours away from the release of Book Six of the Harry Potter saga, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. So let's take a break from the storm of bad news and brutish speculation, and focus instead on this celebration of the child that lives within each of us. The President will be just as impeachable, and the devastation in Iraq just as horrific, after Mrs. Rowling's next phase of her story of transformation has been shared with the public. But perhaps some of us will have a less desperate view of it all; and in any event, the wonderful people of Great Britain in particular could use this small moment of relief from the fear and grief that has enveloped them this past week.
Apparently (to judge by the back cover released by Bloomsbury), the story opens in Harry's summer home at Number 4, Privet Drive. But this time there is to be a visit from his mentor, Professor Dumbledore—a character, by the way, who we really need more of in this age of disposable old people. This is the continuance of Rowling's theme of weaving together the magical and Muggle realms, revealing their inter-connection and ultimate union. In other words, what is erroneously termed "magic"—by those who imagine that there is some gulf separating the sparkling light of quantum spontaneity from the iron drill of reality—is truly the inherent and natural flow of lived experience.
To invite this natural magic into our lives only requires that we release the grip of expectation and discard the impulse to control—for this liberates the healing and transformative energy of the universe that we call Love. This, in essence, is Professor Dumbledore's teaching, which is repeated throughout the stories: whenever Harry successfully incorporates these lessons into his life, there is some transformative moment—a "magical happening" that some would refer to as a "miracle."
Some, that is, except for the powerful leaders of religion and state of our world. They are the figures represented, throughout the Potter epic, in Lord Voldemort (religion) and the Ministry of Magic (state). Here's what Pope Benedict had to say about the Harry books in 2003, before he was a Pope:
Harry Potter [contains] subtle seductions which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly...
This is a characteristically insidious Voldemort claim that says, "if it is not authorized by me, it is Evil." Oh, and by the way, seduction is evil, too. What if people really listened to this crap in their real lives, where lovers dance, embrace, and live the natural magic of sex, without any thought of it being evil or ungodly? So if we don't take it seriously in the way we live amid the most joyful and nourishing relationships and encounters of our lives, then why do we give it a penny's purchase in our attentions or allegiance?
So as you read the Potter novels, let the symbols and the poetry of this woman's writing seep deeply into you, to the level of your heart or body-center, where a more personal and pervasive meaning will arise to you—one that you can take forward into the quotidian challenges, events, and relationships that we Muggles mistakenly refer to as "reality." As Professor Dumbledore teaches us, there is so much more to it than we can see on the surface; we just have to feel that quantum fire beneath, whose sparks resonate within us like the glow from the tip of a wand.
It may be true, as some seem certain to claim, that Professor Dumbledore will meet his death in this story. No matter: for though he may be killed, he will never be defeated.
Let the sixth year begin.