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Friday, July 13, 2007


A short while ago, and a few days after seeing the movie version, I finished reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. That's now five Harry Potter novels out of the six released so far and I'm trying to read them all before the final chapter, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, comes out next Saturday.

Ever since I first read this four years ago, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has been my favorite of the series and I found myself enjoying it even more this time. As well as catching things that seemed totally innocuous on the first reading or two but now seem to have major significance. Of course everyone by now knows about the locket that can't be opened, that was found while cleaning up 12 Grimmauld Place. But I couldn't help think about some other things too... like how now, more than ever, the idea that Harry himself could be a Horcrux seems more possible than ever. I say that in light of what happens with Harry and his visions, and thinking about the words of the prophecy.

I think one of the bigger themes that J.K. Rowling is playing with in these books is that government, especially one as bureaucratic as the Ministry of Magic, is more of a hindrance than a help and that it always, always winds up hopelessly corrupt. Now more than ever, I'm hoping that Arthur Weasley winds up as the new Minister before the series is out. There's also the thing about how education is ruined when there's too much government interference.

Let's put it this way: I think that every teacher and school administrator in the country should read the Harry Potter books, just so they can read and understand Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, because it is a very scathing indictment against a lot of things that go on so far as public education is concerned.

When Harry, Ron, Hermione and the rest of the "rescue team" infiltrate the Department of Mysteries, they find a series of rooms with various natures. These contain the subjects that the Unspeakables (wizards who work in the Department) are studying. One room, the "Brain Room", I believe deals with the mysteries of the mind. Another one is devoted to the mysteries of time. Then there is the "Death Chamber": the amphitheater-like room looking down on the crumbling stone archway with the veil. This is the place alluded to when Nearly-Headless Nick tells Harry that death is one of the subjects studied in the Department of Mysteries.

And then there is one other room that we know of: the one with the locked door that can't be opened despite Harry and the gang's best efforts. The one we can assume Dumbledore is speaking of when he tells Harry that there is a room in the Department of Mysteries "that is kept locked at all times. It contains a force that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than forces of nature. It is also, perhaps, the most mysterious of the many subjects for study that reside there."

Wanna hear my theory - that I've had ever since reading the book four years ago - about what's inside the ever-locked room? My belief on this is stronger than ever.

Here goes: behind the door of the always-locked room in the Department of Mysteries that contains something unimaginably powerful and beyond the scope of natural forces or human understanding... is God.

Think about it: God is the biggest mystery of all. In 1st Corinthians it talks about how the wisdom of man is the foolishness of God. No one can understand God. But we never cease in trying to understand God.

And the fact that Harry and his friends come to the inaccessible room that contains this force, right after finding the Death Chamber... I believe that is significant too, because it is God that is stronger than death itself. The Death Chamber beckoned and tempted. The room that can't be entered may be interesting but it doesn't yield itself to discovery.

That's what I think is behind the door: God. If that's what it is, then I can't begin to imagine the theological metaphors that have been at play in the Harry Potter series that we aren't even aware of yet.

That's a lot of the things that I wound up thinking about this time in reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but it's so dense a book that there's no doubt that a lot of other things in it are going to be factors before the final installment of the story. Only after reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will I probably notice them, then.

And so the Race to the Deathly Hallows enters its final stretch: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Book 6, is the last one to read before Deathly Hallows is published next Saturday. To the best of my understanding, this puts Darth Larry, Jenna and myself at roughly the same benchmark. Can we get them all in by next Friday night? We'll see! :-)