Sunday, June 29, 2014

Lessons from Harry Potter-Part 2

Last week I wrote about some of the lessons we can learn from the Harry Potter books. I listed six:

1.              Everyday is filled with choices and it’s those choices that determine what we are, not our abilities.
2.              It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.
3.              It takes bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.
4.              We all have light and dark inside us. What matters is the power we choose to act on.
5.              The time will come when we will have to make the choice between what is right and what is easy.
6.              You cannot rise to your full potential until you know who you are.

I wrote about the first three on the list in that blog and today I want to discuss the last three.

Each of us has a light and dark side

In book five, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, Harry and Sirius Black are having a conversation and Harry asks if the connection he is feeling between him and Voldemort is making him become bad.

Harry Potter: This connection between me and Voldemort... what if the reason for it is that I am becoming more like him? I just feel so angry, all the time. What if after everything that I've been through, something's gone wrong inside me? What if I'm becoming bad? 

Sirius Black: I want you to listen to me very carefully, Harry. You're not a bad person. You're a very good person, who bad things have happened to. Besides, the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters. We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on.” That's who we really are. (

As I said last week with lesson one, we have choices to make every day between good and evil. We all have the battle between good and evil in our lives and we must choose the good and push our natural tendencies towards evil back and give into the spirit. The scriptures teach:

19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Mosiah 3:19)

Part of the process of putting off the natural man and yielding to the Holy Spirit is choosing to obey God’s commandments and reject evil. As we do this we are blessed and become free from the sins of the world. The more we make the right choices, the less the dark side tempts us. Sorry, I can’t help making the Star Wars connection that Luke and Darth Vader discussed about us having both the good and dark side in us and we have to choose each day to follow the light and suppress the dark side. Elder Dyer spoke of having to curb our appetites and passions when he said:

“The practice of restraint is a necessary attribute of every gentle and good man. Women without it become coarse and unrefined. To curb the appetites and passions, to screen wisely the thoughts that are permitted to enter our minds, to avoid the habit that does not produce the spiritual and abundant life, are experiences of life to be concerned with if the crown of achievement and the nobility of good character are to be possessed.

“Choosing good over evil and right over wrong is the crowning achievement of life, and in so doing man becomes the masterpiece of the Creator and fulfills the basic purposes of his mortal probation. An ancient prophet speaks of it in this way: “… he that ruleth his spirit [is greater] than he that taketh a city.” (Prov. 16:32.)” (“The Nobility of Man in Choosing Good over Evil”, Elder Alvin R. Dyer, Ensign, 1971)

Choosing the Right Thing over the Easy Thing

In the end of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, Dumbledore, speaking to the students said this about making the difficult choices:

“..when 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 Voldermaort. Remember Cedric Diggory.” (Dumbledore to the Hogwarts Students, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, P 724).

It is not easy to make correct choices all the time and even when we do make the right choice bad things can happen. Our friends make fun of us or no longer want to be our friends. Sometimes good people are hurt even while making the choice to keep God’s commandments. Everyday there are new stories of individuals that try to keep God’s commandments and yet they are persecuted for doing so. The fear of what man can do to us should not keep us from doing the right thing. There are other consequences of our choices. Elder Ridd in a recent general conference address spoke of what our choices are and the consequences of those choices:

“You are growing up with one of the greatest tools for good in the history of man: the Internet. With it comes an elaborate buffet of choices. The abundance of choice, however, carries with it an equal portion of accountability. It facilitates your access to both the very best and the very worst the world has to offer. With it you can accomplish great things in a short period of time, or you can get caught up in endless loops of triviality that waste your time and degrade your potential. With the click of a button, you can access whatever your heart desires. That’s the key what does your heart desire? What do you gravitate toward? Where will your desires lead?” (“The Choice Generation”, Elder Randall L. Ridd, General Conference, April 2014)

Knowing Who You Are

The final lesson I would like to discuss it that you are not able to achieve your full potential until you find out who you really are. For ten years Harry had no idea that he was a wizard. Strange things were happening to him and he was able to do some things that he did not understand. Finally when Harry met Hagrid on his eleventh birthday and Hagrid said: “You’re a wizard, Harry” did Harry have an idea of what was happening to him. Even then it took going to Hogwarts and studying with some of the greatest magical teachers before he understood his potential. After learning who he was and also with the help of his friends and teachers, Harry was able to rise up to his potential and defeat the evil Voldemort.

We are all children of our Heavenly Father and have the potential to become as he is.

“32 The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;

 33 And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father…” (Moses 7:32-33)

Paul writing to the Roman saints said:

“16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;” (Romans 8:16-17)

Brother Burgess in a conference address in 2008 said:

“Knowing who you are makes you spiritually strong, sound, and stead fast in your priesthood duties. You become confident with faith and determination to make right decisions. You have courage to stand up for what you know is right.

“…Finding out who we are is one of life’s greatest quests. As parents and leaders, we make a sincere and honest effort to help those we love understand and know the answer to this simple but profound question, “Who am I?”

“…You are literally a son of God, “spiritually begotten in the premortal life. As His child, you can be assured that you have divine, eternal potential and that [your Heavenly Father] will help you in your sincere efforts to reach that potential” (Do You Know Who You Are”, Elder Dean R. Burgess, General Conference, April 2008)

It is a great blessing to know that we are children of our Heavenly Father and that our potential is eternal. Until we overcome the natural man and yield to the Spirit the battle between good and evil in ourselves will continue. As we develop the habit of choosing to keep the commandments, the will to make the hard choices becomes easier and that strengthens the spirit in us that leads us to do good. As we develop these habits of good choices we will find happiness in this life and eventually obtain our full potential and be joint heirs with our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and our families in the kingdom of God.

Your comments and questions are welcome.