Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix

"It's alright te be angry, but it's never alright to act upon it. Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and never leave room in your heart for the devil." Eph. 4:26-27

Harry Potter, in this, his fifth movie, The Order of the Phoenix, is getting more and more angry.

The movie begins on a dark and stormy afternoon as Harry (played by Daniel Radcliffe) sits alone on a playground, deep in his own thoughts and mulling over his anger.

He is angry because his friends Ron and Hermione, as well as his godfather Sirius Black, haven't written him all summer. He is angry because he saw a Hogwarts classmate get killed by his archnemesis Voldemort just a few months earlier (as we saw at the end of The Goblet of Fire). He is angry because he has no friends when he comes home for the summer. He is angry because it seems nearly everyone in his life has rejected him.

Into this anger come two dementors, the hooded death-like guardians of the wizard prison Azkaban, have come for him, to suck out any remaining happiness from Harry's life.

While he is able to fend them off, this just leads to more anger.

We learn later that because of the connection between Harry and Voldemort through his lightening bolt-shaped scar, Harry feels what Voldemort feels - anger, hatred, and jealosy, among other negative emotions. As the movie goes on, Harry must resist reacting to his own life situations as Voldemort would react.

To counteract the negativity within him, he starts to rely more and more on his friends. He forms "Dumbledore's Army," a group of kids from Hogwarts who want to learn how to defend themselves against trouble (since their new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and Hogwarts' new High Inquisitor, Dolores Umbridge, wonderfully portrayed by Imelda Stanton, refuses to teach such 'unnecessary' actions).

Through "Dumbledore's Army," the students learn how to effectly defend against evil, and Harry himself learns to work with others and not just do everything on his own. He even learns about handling relationships as he has his first kiss after one of the classes. By the power of friendships, he is able to control his anger.

And when Harry is about to head off alone to face Voldemort and his Death Eaters at the Ministry of Magic, his friends give him another lesson in togetherness. They insist that they go with him, despite Harry's objections. Like the previous generation who banded together to form the Order of the Phoenix, Harry and his friends are a new generation who have learned that only when we act together, can we truly defeat evil.

In our own lives, we have many reasons each day to be angry. Things don't always go our way, or sometimes it's just as simple as someone cutting us off in traffic. When we are alone, these feelings of anger and resentment can overwhelm us, causing us to act upon them in sinful ways.

But when we have a support system, when we have friends and family to lift us up, we feel less inclined to act on those impulses. Our friends remind us why we should never do that.

God has given us to each other, not just for company on this planet, but also because to deal with anger, hatred, and fear, we need one another.

Voldemort, in the Harry Potter films, acts alone (his Death Eaters are his servants, not his friends); but Harry Potter and his allies act together. No matter which film it is, Harry always has Ron and Hermione, Dumbledore and even Severus Snape (teaching us that sometimes we need to work with people we don't particularly like all the time).

St. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians reminds us, when we're alone and angry: "It's alright te be angry, but it's never alright to act upon it. Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and never leave room in your heart for the devil." (4:26-27). One might imagine this is what Jesus himself had in mind when, at the Last Supper, he told his disciples, "I no longer call you slaves... I call you my friends." (John 15:15) With friends, Jesus was able to transform the world. Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix calls us to the same.

So who is in your own Order of the Phoenix? Who is there when we grow angry and desire to act on that anger? Who is it that God has called you to work together with to transform the world and overcome evil? I pray that we all find our own Order of the Phoenix.


Anonymous said...

As I am feeling some anger and frustration right now, with an authority figure/counselor, I can easily relate to the words written in your post here. It can be difficult to just sit with the anger. It is easy to feel angry, especially when you feel misunderstood and treated unfairly, as I am today.
Sometimes you just can't control the situation and I am working on accepting that as well. I would be interested to know if you had any more thoughts on this particular topic of anger, as it relates to your post. Please respond, if you have time. Thanks.

Jarzembowski said...

Anger is an emotion like any other. Feeling anger reminds us that we're alive - even Jesus himself was angry at the scribes and Pharisees in his day. But what will you do with that anger?

You could sit with it, letting it consume your every thought.

You could release it through violence, potentially hurting yourself and others - either physically or emotionally.

You could suppress it, burying it within your subconscience, where it will grow until it becomes an unhealthy poison that will surely rear its ugly head one day.

But none of those ways is the way that leads to inner peace and that leads to the Reign of God.

Instead, let go of your anger by talking it out to friends and family, and to start a reconciliation process, talk about it with the person with whom you are angry. In the Gospels, Jesus says, "when you are angry at your brother or sister, leave your gift at the altar and go and reconcile with them. then together come to the altar and worship the Father." (Matt. 5:24)

Thank you for your comments about anger, too. The "Harry Potter" movie shows us how anger can consume us, but in the scenes with Dumbledore's Army, we see that Harry releases it in positive ways - by being there for his friends and fellow Hogwarts students. By doing something constructive with his anger and emotions, he is able to better confront Voldemort in the closing scenes of the movie.

Harry is a great example (through the writing of J.K. Rowling and the producers of thses films) of how we deal with the basic emotions of life.

Anonymous said...

I have noticed that when I am angry about something in the morning, everything else in the day seems to make me angry too. Its like the whole day is bad, because life throws me a bunch of curve balls at one time. Just a thought I had today.
Hope to talk with you again soon.

Anonymous said...

It made me think of my dad and I.
I think part of the problem is that we are too alike in how we deal with anger, so that makes it harder to resolve conflict within our relationship. I will feel hurt by something he does, but then he comes down on me when I try and ask him about it. Please, could you say an extra prayer for me that I am able to work on reconciling my anger with my dad.