First off, let me make some grand excuse for abandoning my blog while my poor computer is in the shop. I’ve taken to borrowing my husband’s computer when he’s not using it. I feel like a crackhead begging a taste.
It’s now officially October and that means that I am once again on a read-through of Harry Potter. Those books are sort of a hot bubble bath for my psyche. I don’t read them exclusively, but pick them up for a chapter or three when I need that unique sense of comfort and escape I find there.
I was reading through the first part of the first book and was once again reminded of how much I fell in love with the books when reading about Harry’s horrible treatment at the hands of the Dursleys. I had been wary about reading the series (this was back in 2000) because of all the press Rowling had gotten. In my Evangelical world Harry Potter had a rep for being an instruction manual for witchcraft. A friend had given my husband a copy of Sorcerer’s Stone which then promptly sat behind his desk for months. I was just sure that it was a sort of evil that didn’t need to be trifled with. I often contemplated throwing it out, but wasn’t sure if Steven wanted it back. In my mind it was still someone else’s property. That, coupled with the fact that it was a book and my mother trained me to NEVER throw out a book, saved the aging, yellowed paperback from a landfilly fate.
Enter the bank. In February of 2000 I had taken a job at a local bank and began what I still consider to be the worst ten months of my life. Nothing about that job was good, and it was all made worse by the fact that I clearly didn’t fit in there. Instead of quiitting, as I should have done, I stayed and was miserable. I escaped that misery by coming home every night and diving into rivers of fiction to stay afloat. I fell in love with long series of continuing characters. Because I was so surrounded by hateful people all day I sought out works where I could be around a sort of surrogate family. I reread a bunch of Kellerman mysteries and from there made it to Laurie R. King’s Mary Holmes books. I had a huge sense of loss when I finished the last of those and looked for another fake family to join.
Nervously, reluctantly and with large reservation I picked up the little copy of the book I was afraid of. I talked through my rationalisation to my husband. I prayed about it. And I dove in. Right away I was curious, but then when Orphan Harry reminded me so much of that passage in Les Miserables where we see just how awfully Cosette is treated before ValJean rescues her I was enthralled. That little piece of story where the forlornly apologetic ValJean buys the doll for the battered girl and shows down her caretakers has always been one of my favourite passages. Hagrid rescuing Harry from the Dursleys has that same resonant magic.
Ever since then I’ve been hooked. At least once in every book it seems that Rowling has loved the books I’ve loved, as she’s put pieces of them in her stories. I’ve never once, since that summer nine years ago, found anything questionable, unorthodox or evil in these stories. I HAVE found many Christian teachings and deeper philosophies explained well. The seven books together work as a primer on how to deal with death and loss. They show ordinary people how to cope with the ordinary extraordinariness of pain. I found them to be a great solace at the darkest point in my life and a comforting friend since then.