Here’s another topic I’ve been begging myself to write! I think I’ve been promising a Harry Potter post since before LadyMo was born. A little girl in my ward, Haley, is currently on the fourth book and I couldn’t be more proud of her. She is flying through the books and I can hardly keep up with her enthusiasm for the wizarding world! This HP post is dedicated to Haley J. Because I freaking adore her.
For the last few months, I’ve been trying to figure out how to approach such a monumental, important, and necessary task (I mean, let’s be real, HP is so prophetic he may as well have his own Book). When I first moved to Olathe 3rd ward, I was in Gospel Principles with Brother Clarke. Every Sunday, the two of us would discuss a chapter from the manual and I’d find a way to relate it to Harry Potter. So many times we’d be discussing faith and I’d say, “Like a patronus charm!” Or He’d be talking about the War in Heaven and I’d be talking about Death Eaters and Dumbledore’s Army. Brother Clarke would just nod and giggle. I’m lucky he still loves me 🙂 But there is just so much doctrine in Harry Potter! Hooray!
One post hardly seemed like enough space to discuss all of these connections. I decided that instead of tackling all the major themes in one blog post, I would turn it into a series. That’s right. A lot of Gospel Doctrine, HP style. So today, we will begin our series with a discussion on AGENCY.
Today, we will be discussing these sage proclamations of Dumbledore:
Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
We will begin by opening our Gospel Principle manuals to this link. What’s the skinny on agency? Heavenly Father has promised us the gift to act of our own free will. We get to make decisions for ourselves. We are free to choose between good and evil. For my readers from other faith traditions, let’s back up a smudge. Before we lived here and now, we lived in the pre-existence. We lived as spirit children of our Heavenly Parents. We were happy there, but stupid. We didn’t have the knowledge or experiences or body of our Heavenly Parents and we wanted to be just like Them. Our loving Heavenly Parents were happy to oblige and presented us with the Plan of Salvation.
Here’s the dealio. According to this plan, we would leave the comforts of Heaven and kick it as humans for a while. After a lifetime of living by faith and enduring trials, we could return to our Celestial homedigs. But we would need help getting back. We would need a Redeemer. We would need someone to pay the price of our mistakes. According to LDS doctrine, Jesus Christ and Lucifer both volunteered. Jesus Christ volunteered to be our Savior. He agreed to take upon himself the pain and suffering and sin of every person who will ever live. He would live and die and be resurrected so that we, too, could live and die and be resurrected. He agreed to the conditions of this plan and, as we read in John 6: 38, he would give all the glory to his Heavenly Father :
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
Lucifer also stood up and presented a plan that would also ensure that all of us return to Heaven. Wait, what? Lucy was a good guy? Not quite. You see, Lucifer had two conditions for his plan to be executed with glossy perfection: a) we would not have the ability to choose the wrong, and b) all glory and honor and power would be his, not God’s. If we think about it, if we’re not afforded the ability to choose the wrong, we aren’t able to choose anything at all. We only have one choice (and really, that’s not a choice so much as that’s just what’s going to happen). Heavenly Father’s plan included the inviolable right of His children to make choices. Lucifer’s plan did not. He wanted to make sure we’d live free of sin and coast in the E-Z Pass lane all the way back to the Celestial Kingdom. His plan, while it would ensure our return to Heaven, did not allow for us to experience love or happiness or joy.
In review, Lucifer wanted to call the shots, deny us the right to make decisions (good, bad, or otherwise), and wanted all the power and glory for himself. Who else does this remind us of? This hunka hunka.
Like Voldemort, Lucifer could not understand the power of love. He could not understand why Jesus Christ would submit himself to live and die for us and then to return the glory to his Father. Dumbledore explained this to Harry:
Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
After the war in Heaven, Heavenly Father cast Lucifer and “a third of hosts” out of his presence. Buh-bye. These spirit children, who were at one time our brothers and sisters, chose to follow Lucifer. They wanted the easy path back to Heaven. Little did they know that by choosing Lucifer, they would never ever be allowed the privilege of having a body or experience any happiness. But this didn’t mean that they disappeared for eternity. In fact, these Death Eaters are still among us and still fighting for our souls. They are fighting to keep Lucifer alive and they let his plan reign supreme. This sounds frighteningly similar to the Second Wizarding War. A third of hosts followed Lucifer to an eternity of misery, an ugly snake tattoo, and bad dental hygiene. Just like the Death Eaters. There is good news. If we follow this analogy, then we are all part of Dumbledore’s Army. And aren’t we mighty fierce looking?
The plan of salvation requires agency of all participants. We are given this gift freely and are able to use it how we wish, even if it means using it to hurt ourselves and each other. It was one of the hardest doctrine for me to understand, and to be completely honest, I still don’t fully understand it. I can’t tell you how many times I told the missionaries that if God was actually a loving Heavenly Father, He would put an end to the suffering. I mean, why would He just let horrible people commit atrocities of human destruction on entire populations? If He is the all powerful and eternally loving Heavenly Father, He’d put an end to this. Right. Now. It’s hard for me to understand sometimes, but when I consider the alternative (Voldemort and Death Eaters), I have to trust that He knows better than me.
So there we were at the crossroads in Heaven. Do we choose to follow Jesus Christ, and therefore liberty and an eternal life, or do we hop on the E-Z Pass with Lucifer? Dumbledore can help us with this one:
Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right, and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good and kind and brave because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort.
If you are reading this in your very real and very living human body, the gospel says that we chose eternal life. We chose Jesus Christ. It was our choice that would define us, and we chose what was right. It took me a long time to appreciate the value of agency. There is comfort in the knowledge that I’ve made at least one correct decision. Even if I didn’t always trust that God loves me so freaking much or what it means that Jesus Christ is our Savior, I now understand that at one point I did trust and I did know and I made the right decision.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Dumbledore reminds the students of their right and ability to choose happiness:
Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.
Our Heavenly Parents and Dumbledore want us to choose happiness. In the face of darkness and sorrow and pain and Death Eaters, They want us to turn up our wands and turn on the light.
So much dorky love,