Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Harry Potter and the Bishop of Phoenix

There is a lot of security right now trying to keep anyone from stealing the latest Harry Potter book to be released this Friday night at the stroke of midnight. Across the nation children will crowd bookstores awaiting the latest tome from J. K. Rowling that some are reporting features such treats as vomit flavored cotton candy--just the smell of such a treat would be enough for me to be a manufacturer of a future batch!

At the same time as the the latest Potter book is being released and revealed the bishops of the U.S. will be going into secrecy at their semi-annual meeting. We can only speculate as to what they will be discussing but there is little doubt that the Bishop of Phoenix might be a late addition to the agenda. His scandalous "hit and run" accident is as scandalous as any event that he has covered up in his diocese and is seen by every Catholic that I have spoken with as a great betrayal, if not a sign of sickness (perhaps alcoholism as one person speculates).

The secrecy of the bishops will do nothing to take away the media circus from the environs of the St. Louis meeting, in fact one might speculate that the usually forgotten June meeting of the bishops is likely to receive more coverage than ever because of the secrecy in the same way that the antics of the publisher of the Potter books keeps the attempts to steal the book on the front page daily before the actual release of the title.

Harry Potter is about magic, the Christian religion is about truth, setting your light on a hill where everyone can see your good works. There are magicians in the Scriptures--they seek to replicate the miracles that the believers in God work. In the modern world sometimes it is a little hard to tell who are the magicians and who are the believers or if there are any believers out there.

Magic usually arises out of fear. A person like the title character Harry Potter, rejected by his foster family, gets to the point that reality is too difficult to deal with, so they flea into the world of "make believe" where they are powerful and in charge.

Christ offers a different type of empowerment. Christians are people who are able to face any eventuality and to see in the cross--the light of the resurrection. They can face what might defeat the unbeliever because they know that ultimately the definition of who they are comes from God not from the crowd shouting "crucify him!"

The "hit and run" mentality of not facing up to the consequences of the failures of those in the church is "fear" based and frankly reaks of folks living in a magical kingdom rather than the Kingdom of God. It sort of reminds me of the apostles fleeing Christ upon His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Folks, it all comes down to faith and faith comes through prayer and trust in God. It isn't an escape from reality it is an imersion into reality. It means facing up to all the difficulties of the present moment and doing the right thing.

Which brings us to "us". How can we work to reform ourselves and the Church? What can we do to support the work of good bishops and priests to further the establishment of the Kingdom of God?

These are the big questions and there is no magical answer to any of them, but through trust in God (exemplified by prayer and lots of it) we will find that we are able to face them and make a big difference no matter how small we are in God's Kingdom.