Category Archives: Harry Potter Fandom

Decisions

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?

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Boston, Harry Potter and Coming Home

I needed that weekend away. My four days in Boston wasn’t everything I expected it to be, thank God. It wasn’t worse or better, just . . .different than the way I pictured it in my head. I had no idea, for example, that the weekend would include World’s Largest Balls jokes, discussions about the luxury of zippers relative to the Amish culture or Autism. Seeing as I was at a Harry Potter convention, I expected all the talk about Harry Potter and literature but I had no idea I’d come away with a completely new perspective on the series I adore so much. If you were in Boston at LeakyCon this weekend, thank you. Thanks for continuing to teach me about love and what it means to make a difference.
Proceeds from the convention benefitted the Harry Potter Alliance and Book Aid International, two amazing organizations that fight the Dark Arts in the real world. It always amazes me how a group of people from vastly different backgrounds, cultures and experiences can bond over some books and together, challenge injustices committed in the world.
On a self-indulgent level, the city itself—Boston—was just what I needed this weekend. I finished my last term paper at 2am Wednesday and boarded a bus at 6, barreling past Connecticut countryside toward a Hogwarts-meets-New-England holiday. Boston glistens with academia and history seems to lurk behind every corner. Just strolling down one of the winding streets or through Boston Commons made me feel a little bit smarter. By the time my bus pulled out of Back Bay Station on Sunday afternoon, the last place I wanted to see was dirty, crowded, concrete New York. I especially dreaded returning to the underbelly of Brooklyn where I live.
The closer my over-air-conditioned MegaBus got to the city, however, the more my excitement grew. Seeing the Bronx — old men playing cards on the street ,yelling at one another in Spanish—made my stomach turn flip-flops. We rolled into Harlem and the sight of the subway entrance at 125th street made me smile like it never has before. I suddenly became aware of how much I missed New York. Despite its dirt and crowds and smell and god-awful summer humidity, there’s something so real about this place. Even in its most touristy neighborhoods, New York is authentic. So many people store their hopes and ambitions here that dreams seem to ooze from the sewers on 14th street—they may be revolting, ugly, inconvenient, but they’re always there, always real, always genuine.
Now that I’m home, in this beautiful, disgusting city, it’s time to get back to Real Life: dancing, moving, getting married, celebrating the fact that my fiancée has a job! I think I found an apartment . . . more info soon.

A Message from the Pit of Finals Hell

 Once I’m through with this semester, I vow to blog consistently again. Once I’m through with this semester, I will probably go streaking in Central Park. That’s how happy I will be. 

 

No, seriously. I’m currently finished with my one and only final, but every single one of my professors decided that it would be awesome if they assigned long thesis papers all due on the same day. They’re all started and one is mostly finished, but I still feel more that slightly overwhelmed at the amount of work I have to do before LeakyCon. 

OH YEAH. For those of you who don’t know (which wouldn’t be anyone reading this), LeakyCon is the very first convention hosted by The Leaky Cauldron, a venerable Harry Potter news site, in Boston next weekend. As far as exciting events in my life, I rank Harry Potter conventions as just under Harry Potter book releases, meeting JK Rowling and the day I was born on the OMGEXCITED scale.  I’m nerdy lucky enough to have attended three previous conventions over the past two years and each one offered me a unique, life-changing experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. 

LeakyCon is my incentive for getting through the next three days of college. If I jump out of a window in the next 72 hours, just blame it on Dante, St. Augustine and my own terrible creative writing projects.

Three Little Words

Fairy tales and movies tell us from an early age that the words “I love you” are sacred- three magical syllables meant to be uttered in the most perfect of situations by the perfect person. I live in a rather magical world known as the Harry Potter Fandom where this phrase is treated less like a holy incantation and more like a  housekeeping spell used for tying shoelaces. In the Potterworld, we say “I love you” like we say “good morning.” It’s casual, it’s frequent and it’s light. But does this mean that it’s lost its meaning? Is it possible to be too casual with love?

Within the Harry Potter books, love is a powerful force, even described as the ultimate weapon against evil. As devoted readers, we’ve embraced this idea wholeheartedly. The more love the better. Maybe we’re just a group of people who were always meant to love eachother. Maybe the whole world would say “I love you” just as much if they were as lucky as we are. Have we just learned to love better than the rest of the world’s population, or have we deluded ourselves into thinking that we have?

Nothing is more annoying than the cliche, dramatically timeless question, “What is love?” That’s a question I’m not willing to ask, at least not in so many words. I refuse to believe that love can be defined with some kind of dictionary definition. It takes so many different forms, for so many different people, kind of like a boggart. Okay, it might be less predictable than a boggart, and doesn’t necessarily hide in your closet, but is still just as scary. It can jump out at you without warning, consume your life and linger, or disappear without warning. Love has so many textures, shapes, colors and attitudes.It’s impossible to make it stand still long enough to get a good look at it, to examine it from all sides. We’ll never really know what it “is.”

It seems, in the “muggle” world (a world where people’s primary friendships aren’t reliant on the internet) , people in relationships wait for the words “I love you” like waiting for a marriage proposal. It’s as though once “love” has entered the equation, you become merely two embodiments of this “love” and you’re supposed to both work toward the same goals, share the same pleasures and endure the same tragedies. This is all beautiful and lovely, etc. etc. but what if “love” in its nasty, tricky way, takes on different forms for each person? I’ve had people tell me they loved me because they genuinely felt great affection for me, because they wanted something from me, because they felt obligated, because it felt socially correct to do so, or simply because it was convenient.

Since becoming so absolutely consumed by this community in which love is everywhere and everything, I’ve been forced to question whether it is still just as sacred, important and powerful as I thought it was all these years. How can something that is so abundant and so constant remain so valuable? A basic understanding of supply and demand tells me that the more cans of pasta sauce you have, the less your pasta sauce is worth.  If pasta sauce is less valuable in abundance, certainly love, which is far less delicious on macaroni, is too.

This may come as a surprise, but I’m forced to conclude that love is different than pasta sauce after all.  Even when I tell people who live miles, states, worlds away from me “I love you” every day like I’m offering them a piece of gum, and even though they tell me I’m loved just as often, and even in all of loves many confusing, fleeting and frequently torturous forms, I’m convinced that love is not all those fairy tales made it out to be. It’s more. It retains is value even when supply is high. It’s the greatest weapon we have. God, I hate that sometimes. Just three little words overrule the law of the pasta sauce.