Fellow Passengers: This week’s Promise Passage* (Exodus 4:1-9) transports me to the storied halls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where generations of witches and wizards have gone to hone the craft of magic, to learn all manner of spells and charms and potions. Albus Dumbledore, one of the greatest wizards of all time, the consummate rock star of the wizarding world, spent his life employing that magic as a defense against the evil dark arts. His quest was to free the wizarding world of the threats emanating from the embodiment of that evil, Tom Riddle, aka Voldemort. Dumbledore possessed the legendary Elder Wand, which, along with his exceptional giftedness, made him a formidable opponent to Lord Voldemort. Professor Dumbledore represents that super-hero vocation we all fantasize about at one time or another, as we imagine ourselves using superpowers to effect change in our world.
Early in the Exodus narrative we see another rock star superhero in the making, as Moses attends his own school of wizardry. Here God equips him with some spells and charms designed to liberate the Hebrew children from the evil empire led by Pharaoh, Egypt’s version of Lord Voldemort. Moses arrives on his first day of school unsure of his own abilities, fearful that the powers that be will neither listen to him nor believe him when he calls for freedom. So God gives him his own version of the Elder Wand, a simple staff, and begins teaching him how to draw magic out of it. Moses learns a transfiguration spell that would have made Professor McGonagall proud, with a bit of Slytherine energy thrown in for good measure, as the staff becomes a slithering snake. And just as Harry Potter had his invisibility cloak, Moses has a cloak of his own, enabling him to transform his body from health to leprosy back to health. He continues his training with a class in potions, turning the water from the Nile into blood. Impressive work. That will surely make believers out of the those evil Egyptians (of course, it doesn’t; they have their own wizards who have learned the art of magic. Belief doesn’t come until Moses throws the Avada Kedavra killing curse on them).
I have found myself of late getting a bit tired of the seductive allure of the super-hero rock star energies so prevalent in our world, from our sacred stories to our literature to our movies. There certainly is an appeal, a charm if you will, to the idea that we could wield power and change the world, on some grand scale. We may not have an Elder Wand, but how many times have we heard that the pen is mightier than the sword? So we try casting spells through writing, in an effort to change people’s mind and bring about justice and peace. We may not know the transfiguration charm, but don’t we treat prayer that way sometimes, as if we could influence the interventions of the Creator of the Universe to transform situations through our words? We may not have a cloak, but don’t we clothe ourselves with the mentality that we can organize and problem-solve and bring health to our world? At the end of the Harry Potter series, we learn about one who had early on grown tired of the allure and seduction of magic. His name was Aberforth Dumbledore, the brother of Professor Albus Dumbledore. When the the two brothers were teenagers they had a disabled sister, Ariana, who was plagued with severe emotional disturbances due to an early childhood trauma. While Albus was dreaming up ways to gain the superpowers necessary to create a new world, Aberforth wanted to quit Hogwarts so he could tend to their sister. He simply wanted to be at home where he could take care of Ariana’s basic needs. At the end of the last book in the series, the good Professor confides to Harry that Aberforth was his rough, unlettered, and infinitely more admirable brother. It all makes me wonder, when I read the Exodus narrative, who were the unlettered and infinitely more admirable characters doing this work among the Hebrew people? Who was taking care of the kids with developmental disabilities? Who was tending to the needs of people suffering with severe emotional disturbances? They, like Aberforth, didn’t get books written about them. No epic movies. No rock star status. But, at this stage of my life, they are the ones who interest me most, more than the wielders of wands and casters of charms and mixers of potions. They are doing the real magic, and I want to channel their energy.
How about you? Where does this Primary Passage take you on your journey of faith? Feel free to comment, and share with friends on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, email, etc.