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"People and conditions aren't always what they seem, even (or perhaps particularly) in the magical world of Hogwarts."


Raymond Teague is the author of Reel Spirit: A Guide to Movies That
Inspire, Explore and Empower
, from Unity House. 

He is an award-winning
journalist, an editor of spiritual publications, a popular New Thought
speaker, and a lifelong movie buff. 

His book is available by clicking the "Buy the Book" link above or by clicking here.

  Raymond Teague, 
"Reel Spirit" Movie Reviews

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
(2001, 151 minutes, PG)

Spiritually speaking, I'm wild about Harry Potter.

What's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone really about? If you think it's witches, wizards, magic and special effects at Hogwarts, you've missed the train from platform nine and three-quarters.

Outwardly, Harry Potter is about such reality-expanding ideas that are fun to pursue.

Inwardly, however, at the soul and heart level, the first Harry Potter book and movie are really about old-fashioned, time-honored love, friendship, loyalty and bravery.

Such values are also universally religiously acceptable, which is why protest from certain religious quarters about the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling and now the Harry Potter movie, directed by Chris Columbus, are so ridiculous.

True, the objections mainly have centered around the issues of magic, witchcraft and wizardry, but even these topics in stories throughout the world's literary traditions have always taught archetypal lessons about good and evil and the values of love, friendship, loyalty and bravery in combating the obstacles or "evils" of life.

So let's hear it for Harry Potter and those responsible for making such a faithful adaptation of the first installment in the hugely popular series. The core messages of love, friendship, loyalty and bravery come through loud and clear, echoing through the fabled, ghost- filled halls of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Love is the dominant theme or message of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The story's hero, young Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), has been raised in a Muggle (a human who isn't a wizard or witch) household, but he finds out he's actually a wizard and has been accepted into Hogwarts.

Not only is Harry a wizard, but he's a famous wizard - having escaped death by the evil Voldemort, who killed Harry's parents.

Albus Dumbledore, Hogwarts headmaster (Richard Harris), tells Harry that his mother sacrificed herself to save him. Such "sacrifice leaves a mark that lives in your very skin," Dumbledore says.

What is that mark?

"Love, Harry," Dumbledore states.

Love that sacrifices for the good of another reflects the unconditional love that is Spirit.

Harry forms a close bond with two other students, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint). Theirs is a friendship that also contains love capable of sacrifices, as we see when the threesome attempt to solve the mystery of the sorcerer's stone.

The depth of Ron's friendship especially is tested, and his decision certainly represents the epitome of true, selfless friendship.

In one activity and adventure after another, from playing Quidditch to fighting a troll, Harry, Hermione and Ron help and support each other. They learn to respect each other's strengths and to offer praise and encouragement to keep each other going.

As friends, they are also loyal to each other, to their principles, to the good of the school, and to justice.

Although Hermione is noted as a top student, she tells Harry that the truly important things in life are "friendship and bravery."

Bravery is another major theme of the story, and is seen most clearly in the actions of the three friends as they help each other and fight against evil-doers. Harry's "pure nerve and outstanding courage" is officially recognized by Dumbledore. The sacrifice of Harry's mother also shows bravery.

Interestingly, Dumbledore also singles out another student, Neville, for bravery of a different type. Of Neville's actions for what he believes is right, the headmaster says, "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends."

Other instructive lessons found in the movie include:

  • The importance of living and doing, not just dreaming or learning. The wise Dumbledore says, "It does not do to dwell on dreams, Harry, and forget to live."
  • The need to think for one's self. About choosing his friends, Harry tells the untrustworthy Draco Malfoy, "I think I can tell the wrong sort for myself."
  • The problems that arise from judging by appearances. People and conditions aren't always what they seem, even (or perhaps particularly) in the magical world of Hogwarts.

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