I always thought it was sad that some people wanted to ban Harry Potter for being about witchcraft, when in truth, it was really about the triumph of love (the good in us) over hate (the evil in us). It seemed so clear that Harry’s Aunt and Uncle were denying Harry everything because of one of the seven deadly sins, envy, they were the haters, accepting the evil in the world.
It’s easy to see the battle played out in Harry Potter. Or in the Chronicles of Narnia. Or in The Lord of The Rings. Yes, battle between good and evil is a basic story concept. But, it seems we have a huge problem in really dealing with evil. Many of the stories dealing with evil are in the SciFi/Fantasy genre. It’s like we can’t battle evil, except with the use of magic. In Harry’s terms, pity us poor muggles. So, do we truly believe in evil? M. Scott Peck’s Book, The People of the Lie, discusses human evil as a concept totally alien to the science of psychiatry. We have all sorts of euphemisms developed to excuse or evade the idea of evil. But that still doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, it just means it terrifies us. Another good reason it is a great basic story concept.
There is no more basic story concept than the battle between good and evil. There are some classic SciFi/Fantasy novels dealing with good vs evil. Probably the one that comes easiest to mind is Harry Potter, who took seven novels to defeat Lord Voldemort. And, as in most good stories, it is Harry’s constant temptation toward evil that makes for the primary conflict of the story. But there are others, Frodo and the Ring and Aslan the Lion to name but a few.
This is the first Monday in Lent. Last Wednesday we were reminded of ‘from dust we came and unto dust we shall return’. We’ve received the instructions, yet again, of Fasting and Abstinence. And, now, this week, we turn to the most difficult part of belief, withstanding temptation and staying true. The gospel for the first Sunday in Lent is Matthew 4:1-11, The Temptation of Jesus.
Temptation is one of those words that come fully packaged with negativity. We don’t really ever admit that being tempted is a good thing. Temptation is usually something that we succumb to and hope we live the next day, probably with regret. For Harry, the temptation was small like using magic for self maybe just once. For Frodo, letting the ring keep you alive a little bit longer. Meanwhile, the effort to withstand the temptation is huge. Thus, the conflict because the temptation never ever really look quite all that bad, which leaves us with a basic dilemma.