So. Let us quickly get to the reason you opened this blog post: a Harry Potter reference. If you are a "Potterface," you well know of the Defense Against the Dark Arts class from J.K. Rowling's popular fiction, or DADA, as fans call it. You may NOT be a Rowling-reader, but you will probably be able to relate to these as a believer or a spiritual leader. Now, I do not teach at Hogwarts, but I have had privileges to equip students for quite some years in more than one discipline.
Although there are some things I have learned about teaching AND about true defense against "the dark one" from a few of the transitioning teachers of that class in the famed stories, I am not going way out on a limb and saying that the fictional world of wizardry is flawless. I WILL say that there are some great parables in these stories and I also think there are some lessons to be learned from each besides how to make your own Patronus.
Even if you have never-ever cracked open a Rowling book or sat through a Potter movie, you will get this. But ... if you are in fact a Potterface, you will nod your head in YUP-YUP-YUP. So without further adieu (and in chronological order, no less!) ...
SEVEN WAYS TO DEFEND AGAINST THE DARK ARTS:
- Professor Quirrell. You may at times feel inadequate and have a burning desire to prove yourself. Just don’t be a two-faced fraud, m-kay?
- Professor Gilderoy Lockhart. You can be a fun and engaging person, but the truth must be communicated at all costs or else your crazy will become obvious.
- Professor Remus Lupin. Bravery. Kindness. Patience. The best defense against darkness is truth at all costs.
- Barty Crouch, Jr. (oops, I mean Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody ... or not). Two words: constant vigilance. He encouraged it, but did not live it and was instead another incarnation of the first year deception. You … you live it. Authenticity is everything.
- Delores Umbridge. A lot of experiences or educational degrees do not qualify you to occupy any position of leadership or immediately give you the right to use your knowledge as a ghastly weapon.
- Severus Snape. Silence has a specific control. It has the power to get people to reflect and can help slow your own mind down instead of reacting. Use silence deliberately, but wisely.
- Amycus Carrow. Now here was a teacher/leader who was a brilliant man, but was under the influence of darkness. Who has known anyone like that? Have you? :-/ You are better than that. I'm clearly not ending on a high note here ...
Professors Three and Six may not have been perfect, but they stand out from others in truth and commitment, huh?
These all have a very common denominator and what I have learned about being an influence in the classroom and, okay, in life from the DADA teachers is this: Be honest. Be yourself. Be real. In book seven, The Deathly Hallows, Ms Rowling includes pretty clear references to Matthew 6:19, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (p 325). You want respect from your friends, your children, possible students or from anyone at all? First give it to THEM.
My friend Julie proposes that "it isn't the movies that influence young people to leave God, it's what they witness in the lives/attitudes of who they live with and what they are taught by those examples that primarily affects them." I guess it's easier for me to get angry at a movie for whatever reason than to do self-examination. Am I treating my husband in a way that encourages faith in my children? Do my attitudes help my kid to soften their heart and fall in love with Jesus and trust God? Self-examination is devastating, and I'd rather be mad at a movie producer than myself.
I am reminded of some wisdom from apostle James:
But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. James 1:22-24, The Message
I am not forcing scriptural truths into a work of pure fiction. However, I AM finding a few things in fiction that rights truth in life. The way to defend against any 'dark arts' with which a Christian is familiar are relatively straightforward in scripture: act on what you hear and what you know; anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air (James 1:25-26). The same could be said about looking in the mirror, my friend. Be who you are. I mean, I certainly think you're pretty impressive. A lot of people do!
We have just chatted about a few things that helped fictional teachers defend against darkness and how a few moments were pretty good references to scripture. But let's look at my favourite from The Deathly Hallows ... and VERY OBVIOUS one. Depending on which print version you are reading from with DH, 1 Corinthians 15:26, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” can be found around page 328 of said story.
I hope you related to some of the ways the Hogwarts teachers used to defend against darkness as those suggested ways were not magical. However, using them wisely will incite a different kind of "magic" --- there is a proverb has been attributed to many cultures, and it is pretty dead on when it comes to being a person of courage and I leave you with this thought:
“Tell me who you love, and I’ll tell you who you are.”