On this episode of Finding Christ In Cinema, we get ready for the Triwizards tournament and the return of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE. Does the old, manky boot of a portkey represent the “straight and narrow way”? Should Harry and Ron forgive each other seventy times seven? All that and more in 3…2…1!
On A Hill Far Away Stood An Old Manky Boot
Harry Potter’s life has been marked by destruction. You could say that he has dwelt in destruction. His parents were murdered. He-who-must-not-be-named tried to take Harry’s own infant life. He grew up in a caustic environment – as an unwanted, stray dog begging for the scraps that fell from the Dursley’s table. He lives a life of destruction, he is a product of destruction, and he is a citizen of destruction.
But that changed, as we saw in the first installment – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (FCC 08) – as well as the subsequent chapters in this epic tale. In The Goblet of Fire, we see his journey away from destruction told in yet another way.
Why so much “destruction?” First, there’s a clear parallel between this book/film and the classic John Bunyan allegorical tale The Pilgrim’s Progress. Second, the Portkey is a parallel to The Cross of Jesus. And an understanding of both points us to Matthew 7:13-14:
Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the way that leads to life, and there are few who find it!
In The Pilgrim’s Progress, as the central figure Christian is stuck in a moment he can’t get out of, he meets a stranger named Evangelist. The latter aids the former by pointing him toward a destination that will help him “fly from the Wrath to come” and save his soul. When Christian reaches this gate, he is transported from the world of destruction and death to a community of salvation and life.
Paradoxically, the Christian cross is a superficially grotesque but an inwardly beautiful image because it symbolizes the death on the outside and the subsequent resurrected life that follows. We see this dual nature in The Goblet of Fire with the Portkeys – the old, manky boot as well as the Triwizard Cup – as whoever touches them is transported from death to life. The old, manky boot transport Harry, Hermione, the Weasleys, and the Diggories from being lost in the woods to the Quidditch World Cup; later, the Triwizard Cup transports Harry and Cedric between the graveyard and the Hogwarts campus.
By considering the Portkeys in The Goblet of Fire, we can better understand the narrow starting gate of the path that can lead us back home to God otherwise known as the way of the cross.
Harry, Ron, and Seventy Times Seven
For the first time in the Wizarding World, we see a rift in the friendship between Harry and Ron who have been best friends ever since their first year at Hogwarts. Sure, while earlier stories may have teased that these two comrades would have their troubles further down the road, we see things manifest for the first time in the Goblet of Fire.
It starts with Ron being consumed with jealousy when the Goblet of Fire chooses Harry as the fourth champion in the Tri-Wizards. We can hear it in their dialogue in the Gryffindor dormitory. Ron’s self-esteem has been deflated as he now sees himself as “Harry Potter’s stupid friend.” Harry tries to rectify the situation, but only pushes Ron further away.
We’ve all seen this before, when two friends start going their separate ways because of jealousy. To get back at each other, we see them hanging out with new friends – Harry with Neville and Ron with Seamus – not as though they all weren’t friends before, but hanging out with some friends to purposefully avoid others. We also see the strain this puts on Hermione as she reminds the two that she is not an owl for their passive-aggressive comments.
The schism between Harry and Ron finds its resolution in Matthew 18:21-22:
Then Peter came to him and said, “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother who sins against me? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy-seven times!” (NET)
Jesus calls us – as a part of keeping in step with the aforementioned narrow way – to love our neighbors, and a part of that “love” is, as Paul elucidates in 1 Corinthians 13, keeps no record of wrongs. Furthermore, Jesus urges us to pray we forgive others in the same way that God forgives us of our own sins against Him. So, in our key text, Jesus isn’t saying that we should keep count of how many times we are to forgive people; instead, He is saying that we should love others so much that we admittedly lose count of how many times we have forgiven, are forgiving, and will perpetually forgive others.
Ultimately and thankfully, Harry and Ron forgive each other, revive the friendship, and show each other that they actually need each other after Harry defeats the Hungarian Horntail dragon in the first challenge. Harry even admits that the whole not-forgiving ordeal is “completely mental.”
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Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.
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