Beside dance, Harry Potter has always been my “thing.” Since I first became obsessed with the series at the age of 9 I’ve been the Harry Potter Girl everywhere I go. I’m usually rather open about my love for the books and my involvement in fandom though I sometimes avoid discussing the topic with “muggles” if I sense that the conversation will only invite judgement and scorn. When I moved to New York, 99% of the close friends I made, I met through Harry Potter. I met my husband through Harry Potter (in a roundabout way) and I’ve spent countless hours (and dollars) at fan events, wizard rock concerts and gatherings.
In the summer of 2007 I attended my very first Harry Potter convention. Just ten days after the release of the final installment in JK Rowling’s septology, over one thousand fans gathered to celebrate ten years of Harry Potter and the incredible literary and social journeys we’d completed. The energy of so many passionate fans gathered in one place combined with the quality of the academic presentations, round tables and panels created one of the most magical weeks of my life. I was hooked. I made plans to attend two conferences the following summer and spent most of my freshman year of college anticipating the summer when I’d get to see my Potter friends and experience “convention high” again. Every convention experience is different–some conventions I’ve enjoyed far more than others, but each has taught me valuable lessons about literature, friendships and myself.
This summer a large convention is scheduled to take place in Orlando at the soon-to-be-opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park. I’ve been planning to attend this conference for years. A conference at HOGWARTS? Can’t miss it, right?
That’s exactly why I have to. Over the last few months, I’ve been trying to assess the priorities in my life. Whenever I spend time in scripture, I am reminded how many of my priorities seem to be about myself rather than God and others. Now that I’m married, about to graduate college and have recommitted my life to the service of Christ, I can no longer continue to serve earthly idols. Harry Potter and the fandom will always play a huge role in my life. I am not any less passionate about the books or my fandom friends and I believe that Christ’s message shines brilliantly in the Potter stories. I just have to be careful that it is not the sole focus of my life. I have also become more hesitant about which fan events I attend for various moral and spiritual reasons.
I felt the Lord calling me to further develop my relationship with Him this summer in a radical and different way. I began looking for places to volunteer or Christian retreats or ministry-related jobs, but nothing seemed to fit. Many wanted several recommendations from pastors and since we are still searching for a New York church home I don’t currently have a pastor. Many positions required a college degree or previous experience in the field. The retreats I looked into seemed great, but not quite what I was looking for. Then, one night while doing completely unrelated research, I stumbled upon Summit Ministries. After reading their mission statement and the descriptions of their two-week conferences, I knew this was what I wanted to do this summer. You can Google them for the whole spiel, but needless to say I am very, very excited. I have prayed about it and even though I would prefer to spend my money on a Harry Potter con, I feel the Lord calling me to die to myself, to make a sacrifice for my own good. At Harry Potter cons I am comfortable. I’m around my close friends, I know how things work, I’m completely in my element. This conference is something different altogether. Surprisingly I don’t have very many Christian friends these days and I’m looking forward to the fellowship. I’m also looking forward to being in a learning environment conducive to a Biblical worldview–the longer I spend in my wonderful but very secular, liberal college, the more I crave the evangelical perspective. Though I’m grateful to have so much experience learning about other views and defending my own, sometimes you just want to be around like-minded people for a while, ya know?
It was a tough decision and I know I’ll probably suffer a lot when I hear about how awesome the theme park is and everything, but I think that’s suffering I’m going to have to endure. Thankfully, there is another shorter, smaller and more affordable con this May that Graham and I will still be attending. So I’ll still get my tiny Harry Potter conference fix. Is that cheating?