Sunday, July 15, 2007
My Harry Potter Experiences
Harry Potter fans all over the world are eagerly awaiting the release of the seventh and final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this coming weekend. Sadly Julie and I will not be able to attend the Hogsmeade party in downtown Naperville this time since we foolishly planned our big emergent conference this weekend. Obviously we are big fans of the books, and we can't wait to see how it all ends. As I look forward to reading the final chapter in the Harry Potter saga, I've started thinking about all the memorable experiences I've had regarding these books. Let me start at the beginning...

I first heard of Harry Potter through Julie who had to read the first book for a literature class with Alan Jacobs at Wheaton. By the time I got around to reading them, the first three books were out, and, believe it or not, I actually read them all on our honeymoon back in December of 1999! (We both got sick during the honeymoon and didn't do a whole lot except lay around the cabin we had rented.)

The release of the fourth book, Goblet of Fire, in July of 2000 was rather memorable for us since we were in England at the time in the midst of our 10-week tour of Europe. We were staying in a campground just outside of Bath and had stopped by a bookseller the night before the release just to ask what time he opened and whether he was expecting long lines. As we were the only ones in the shop and he was about to close, he looked furtively around and in a lowered voice asked "If you promise not to tell anyone I can let you have the book right now, they're already here." After we assured him that we wouldn't tell anyone since we were travelers and didn't really know anyone in Bath to tell in the first place, he sold us a copy (at the full price rather than the £5 discount he'd be selling it to everyone else for the next day). We stayed up late that night in the campground laundry room and in the pub reading it.

It wasn't long after that Julie and I were asked to participate in a panel discussion at our church about whether Christians should even read such "evil" books as Harry Potter. After all, they contain "witchcraft" and might entice kids to worship Satan or some such nonsense. (I actually had a pastor in our church at the time pass along a satirical and totally fictional article from The Onion that quoted JK Rowling as admitting to being a worshiper of Satan. The pastor didn't realize that The Onion is a satirical paper, they honestly thought it was a real news article!) Obviously Julie and I were in the "pro" camp, though I don't know if we convinced anyone. C.S. Lewis notwithstanding, conservative evangelicals often have a phobia of any kind of imaginative and magical stories and seem to have some difficulty separating fact from fiction when it comes to such things.

My next two Harry Potter memories have to do with the movie releases, as the first and second movie adaptations both came out on the same weekend as my birthday. So for two years in a row my birthday involved going to see the movies with a bunch of college and church friends and having a Harry Potter themed party afterwards at TGI Friday's (complete with Harry Potter party hats).

For the release of the fifth book, Order of the Phoenix, in the summer of 2003 we were in England again, this time only for a few hours in Heathrow airport en route to Madrid, Spain for our youth group mission trip. We got the British adult cover, which is really stinking cool, and then proceeded to be distracted by reading while we should have been focusing on our mission. :) In fact our whole team was rather distracted as many of them had picked up copies in London as well.

For the third movie release, Prisoner of Azkaban, in June of 2004, Julie and I went to the midnight showing in our wizard costumes - Julie as Professor Trelawney and me in my Gandalf/Dumbledore robes. It was fun since we saw some of our youth group kids there too, and it also happened to be the last time Julie and I have been able to go to the midnight show of a movie (as Emma was born the following January).

For the sixth book release (Half Blood Prince) we went to the "Hogsmeade" party in downtown Naperville (or as they're calling it this year "The Party That Shall Not Be Named"). The chamber of commerce and dozens of local businesses turn the whole downtown area into a wizard village with fun games for the kids, lots of people in costume, stage shows, and more. We got Butter Beer and enjoyed the festivities.

For the fourth and fifth movie releases we were lucky to even be able to go since getting a sitter for Emma can sometimes be a challenge. However, we were able to see the most recent movie (#5) this past Thursday thanks to our friend Kelsey who watched Emma. I thought it was pretty well done. In fact, I may like this movie best of all of them so far (though #3 was pretty good too).

So anyway, that's been my Harry Potter experiences to date. Pretty amazing when you think about it that so many of my experiences related to the book and movie releases have memorable stories associates with them. I guess that just goes to show how big of a fantasy geek I am! :)


posted by Mike Clawson at 8:21 PM | Permalink |


At 7/17/2007 09:15:00 AM, Blogger M James

Jen and I went to see Order of the Phoenix last night.
I thought it was really good - successfully moving the series towards it's gothic, horror roots that the last few books began to plant.
I don't feel it was better than the third one (Gary Oldham really stole the show in that one) but it was better than the others.
Although, I must say, seeing all the characters in their mid-twenties was quite a shock.
Especially the Weasely bros. who appeared to be around thirty.


At 7/17/2007 09:53:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

I don't think they're quite that old. The actors that play Harry, Ron & Hermione are still late teens (only a few years older than their characters in book 5). No idea how old Fred & George are in real life, though they did look far too old for high school.

On the other hand, I thought they made Tonks look too young. She looked younger than the Weasley twins!


At 7/19/2007 02:56:00 PM, Blogger Al Hsu

So are folks going to duck out from the Emergent gathering to go to a midnight Harry Potter party? If people skip out Saturday, it might be because they're hiding out reading.

And I loved that Onion article about HP. It's so funny that so many conservative Christians are so gullible. And all the folks who think the books lead people to practice witchcraft need to ask themselves if they started communing with dead spirits and ghosts after reading or watching A Christmas Carol.


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