Running Through the Sky
The Harry Potter stories have taken their place among the ranks of must read and must see classics of children’s literature. Along with Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, the Marvel Series, and countless copies and spinoffs, they have reintroduced a generation of young people to the magic and power of fantasy adventure.
No mere escape, the stories take us worlds away, traveling with wizards, battling monsters underground, riding dragons, challenging gods, and staring down evil.
They are staggering feats of imagination, but when we ask where these authors got their ideas, one answer must surely be from the world of Greek stories. In Harry Potter alone, we see the connections everywhere.
The Cloak of Invisibility? Perseus' cap of invisibility he uses to defeat Medusa.” Fluffy the three-headed dog? - Cerberus guarding the underworld. Hermione? - The daughter of Helen of Troy. Draco? The name means snake in Greek.
But besides the attributes these characters share with ancient gods, monsters and heroes, something deeper is happening.
This onslaught of imagination has opened pathways to a deeper stream of magic and heroic adventure always bubbling just beneath the surface, waiting to spring into life.
And it's not just for kids.
In a world consumed with facts and figures, reams of data and intractable troubles, and the critical thinking and analysis which often leaves in their wake paralysis, futility or a hopelessness born of cynicism, these tales, both old and new, are the perfect antidote and corrective.
Extraordinary powers and events in the life of ordinary people trace back to the very human world of Greek myth, where the gods walked the earth and humans flew through the sky.
If we can soar with Harry Potter on a broom, leap and run through the heavens with Perseus in winged sandals, battle it out with evil in a dark forest and stare death in the face like Odysseus and return to talk about it, it's not just our imaginations, but our whole being that leaps and soars and battles and survives to tell the tale. As we run and float in the heavens and come back from the darkness, we gaze again at the world, and the earth, with all its problems and possibilities looks different.
The exhilaration and power and insight all this brings is worth having. How else will we face the unfaceable and confront the unthinkable. On our return we are often more "ready for thinking and action."
Just what the Ancients wanted.
C.S. Lewis, another great children’s author who wrote the Narnia stories, beguilingly simple tales of children and animals that teach, while they inspire and entertain said
“Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”