Edmund Kern: Ms. Rowling speaks about Voldemort’s Soul Fragment at King’s Cross

Prof. Edmund Kern, History Department Chair at Lawrence University (my wife’s alma mater) and author of ‘The Wisdom of Harry Potter: What Our Favorite Hero Teaches Us About Moral Choices’ (Prometheus, 2003), sent me a note this morning about the crying baby that cannot be helped in Harry’s NDE/after-life experience at King’s Cross. With his permission, I post it here for your comments and correction. Thank you, Prof. Kern!

Hi John,

I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but JKR appears to have confirmed my reading of Voldemort’s soul in the “King’s Cross” chapter that you so kindly posted on HogPro. It’s in the FAQ section of her site:

(most directly)

What exactly was the mutilated baby-like creature Harry saw at King’s Cross in chapter 35 of ‘Hallows’?

I’ve been asked this a LOT. It is the last piece of soul Voldemort possesses. When Voldemort attacks Harry, they both fall temporarily unconscious, and both their souls – Harry’s undamaged and healthy, Voldemort’s stunted and maimed – appear in the limbo where Harry meets Dumbledore.

(also important)

What exactly happened when Voldemort used the Avada Kedavra curse on Harry in the forest?

Again, Voldemort violated deep laws of magic he did not understand, but there is more to it than that.

Having taken Harry’s blood into himself, Voldemort is keeping alive Lily’s protective power over Harry. So Voldemort himself acts almost like a Horcrux for Harry – except that the power of Lily’s sacrifice is a positive force that not only continues to tether Harry to life, but gives Voldemort himself one last chance (Dumbledore refers to this last hope in chapter 35). Voldemort has unwittingly put a few drops of goodness back inside himself; if he had repented, he could have been healed more deeply than anyone would have supposed. But, of course, he refused to feel remorse.

Voldemort is also using the Elder Wand – the wand that is really Harry’s. It does not work properly against its true owner; no curse
Voldemort casts on Harry functions properly; neither the Cruciatus curse nor the Killing Curse. The Avada Kedavra curse, however, is so powerful that it does hurt Harry, and also succeeds in killing the part of him that is not truly him, in other words, the fragment of Voldemort’s own soul still clinging to his. The curse also disables Harry severely enough that he could have succumbed to death if he had chosen that path (again, Dumbledore says he has a choice whether or not to wake up). But Harry does decide to struggle back to consciousness, capitalises on Lily’s ‘escape route’, and pulls himself back to the realm of the living.

It is important to state that I always saw these kinds of magic (the very deepest life and death issues) as essentially un-scientific; in other words, there is no “Elder Wand + Lily’s Blood = Assured Survival” formula. What count, ultimately, are Harry and Voldemort’s own choices. They have each been given certain weapons and safeguards, but the power of these objects and past happenings lie in how they are understood, and how they are used or enacted upon. Harry has a deeper and truer
understanding of the meaning of the objects and past events, but his greatest powers, those that save him, are free will, courage and moral certainty.

Also, I’ve been meaning to compliment you on your essay postulating that “Harry Potter” is a “shared text.” I think you’re right on the mark. A friend of mine, now retired from our English Department, Peter Fritzell had suggested something similar to me a few years ago. You’ll be sure to both get credit when a revision of The Wisdom of Harry Potter: What Our Favorite Hero Teaches Us About Moral Choices is completed.

All the best.

– Ed


  1. I confess I was most interested in this PoMo signature:

    “But the power of these objects and past happenings lie in how they are understood.”

    Anyone else struck by Ms. Rowling’s emphasis on choice and understanding over magic?

  2. The first time I read DH, I struggled with Dumbledore’s admonition to Harry at King’s Cross to ignore the crying, etc… (I don’t have my book in front of me to give an exact quote). When I realized that the maimed lifeform was Voldemort in some fashion, I was reminded that in Heaven there is no suffering, sorrow, pain, or crying…and for Harry to become immune to the *thing’s* pitiful moans was no different than passed-on believers not hearing the woeful screams from hell.

    The longer Harry was with Dumbledore at King’s Cross, the less he was emotionally aware of the baby LV’s distress. At first I thought Harry was just following AD’s directive to ignore the child…now I see how Harry’s resolve to return was more a process than a snap decision: as he talked with AD, the more certain Harry became of victory over LV, and less and less did the distressed child affect him. Is this not what we are called to understand as Christians? Evil is ever-present….and the more we embrace the knowledge of victory through Christ, the more empowered we become to face evil as a defeated foe!

  3. What strikes me, like a sledgehammer, is that JKR is affirming that the events at King’s Cross have an existence outside of Harry’s consciousness or mind. He’s not imagining the conversation with DUmbledore, Voldemort’s pitiful bit of soul, the option of going on. It’s real.

  4. Yes, reyhan, that answers one important question (namely, Harry’s skeptical one about the reality of his King’s Cross experience) but asks another. It’s real she confirms, i.e., not just in Harry’s head, but everything happens consequent to the understanding and choices of the players. There is no destiny, prophecy, or pre-determined end without it being realized in the crucible of human perception and free-will-decision-making.

    Christian? Yep. Postmodern? Oh, yeah. These aren’t the positions of an ardent predestination Presbyterian unless I misunderstand that position.

  5. pj articulates something that I’ve always been aware of, without being able to put it into words. It’s about what happens in King’s Cross.

    There is a process going on, apart from the conversation with Dumbledore. The conversation touches upon it at certain points, but only indirectly: when Dumbledore tells Harry there is nothing he can do about Voldemort, when Dumbledore tells Harry he can choose to go back, or to go on.

    It’s as if Harry is thinking, understanding something, and making a decision. He seems almost distracted during the conversation, as if most of his thoughts are elsewhere. And when he does decide to go back, as pj says, the decision has already been made.

    What is he understanding? Obviously, what happened, what remains to happen still, how Voldemort is, where his last chance lies. Plot wise, of course, his insights are important. But what strikes me more is the way this chapter is written. The most important things are not said, they are sub-textual.

    Now JKR has always witheld things from us – and Harry – reporting conversations which don’t quite mean what we think they mean. But at King’s Cross, for the first time we are outsiders to what Harry is thinking. For the first time, we don’t share his perspective. We still see things from his eyes, but we are no longer privy to his thoughts.

    At the end of the walk in the forest, Harry dies – and grows up and becomes an adult. And with that comes the privacy to think one’s own thoughts.

    Neat that. Makes me think of Blake’s lines:

    ‘Men are admitted into Heaven not because they have curbed & govern’d their Passions, or have no Passions, but because they have cultivated their Understandings.’

  6. Dave the Longwinded says

    I’m struck by some of the seeming contradictions concerning the choice theme. Travis said this a couple of weeks ago in the comments section to an “Around the Common Room” post from a couple of weeks ago:

    Rowling has called Harry “just good,” which says to me there’s an inherent goodness in him that Voldemort doesn’t have. Which once again, I think, potentially undermines her “choice” theme, because it’s not as though Harry and Voldemort had equally available choices before them (something she underscores once again when talking about the conditions into which both were born). It definitely seems as though Harry is “just good” and Voldemort “just evil.”

    I’m inclined to agree with him; and the quote you’ve highlighted above, John, seems to muddy these waters even more. For all the emphasis on choice, there’s plenty about Harry’s character that seems to simply be chalked up to something innate in his humanity. Something akin to an unconventional humanism seems to lurk in the HP books — which, I suppose, can be read as a reflection of Rowling’s assertions recently that the books are about her “struggle” with these issues.

  7. JKR writes:

    ‘What count, ultimately, are Harry and Voldemort’s own choices. They have each been given certain weapons and safeguards, but the power of these objects and past happenings lie in how they are understood, and how they are used or enacted upon. Harry has a deeper and truer
    understanding of the meaning of the objects and past events, but his greatest powers, those that save him, are free will, courage and moral certainty.’

    To me, this statement resolves the contradiction. Both Harry and Tom have their own history, and are given certain tools, but the power – ie. impact or effect or consequence – of these things lies in how they are understood and acted upon.

    To wit: Harry grows up an orphan, is mistreated and bullied, all before the age of 11. He has power. He could easily have turned to evil, to use his power to control and abuse others. He does not. He chooses to help and save others. Tom grows up an orphan. He is not badly treated. He has power. He could easily have used his power for good, to help others as he was helped. He does not. He chooses to control and abuse others.

    Just because they turned out that way doesn’t mean that the paths of these two people were pre-determined, one for the good and the other for bad. It might look like that, but they had choices every step of the way.

    A real life corollary is described in the works of sociologist Shadd Maruna. He has talked to offenders who have redeemed their lives, whom he calls desisters, and those who have continued to offend, called persisters. He found that the persisters felt that they were doomed to do bad things, and that they had no choice over their destiny. Similarly, the desisters felt that they had always been good people underneath, and in desisting, merely brought to the surface the goodness that had always been there. In fact, of course, neither persisters nor desisters had been predestined to be one way or another. The choices they made brought them to certain ends. It was only looking back that they could make the statement that they had “always” been that way.

    Predestination, from that perspective, exists only when you look back, not when you look ahead.

  8. Ah, Wesleyan Arminianism! Well, that just about makes my day. I wonder if she’s been to an Alpha Course?


  9. Dave the Longwinded…could the *something* in both Harry and Tom’s humanity simply be the temperament each was born with that would filter their respective circumstances and direct their choices combined with the earliest parental influences (for Harry) or abandonment (for Tom)?

    I base my question on the book, *How to Develop Your Child’s Temperament* (1977, Harvest House Publishers) by Beverly LaHaye…a very helpful resource when my husband and I were struggling to understand how to parent the two distinct personalities we had birthed 26 months apart.

    Remember that Harry had a year to experience a loving, nurturing home with Lily and James. We saw a chubby, laughing little boy who could distract his parents’ attention from the severity of their situation because they loved him so much! They doted on Harry…even allowing him to fly on the little broom Sirius had sent him for his first birthday. In contrast, Tom was orphaned at birth; his caregivers had no parental attachments to him. He was just another mouth to feed and body to clothe. (Psychology 101 students would remember the studies conducted on orphaned infants and toddlers confined to their cribs without the benefit of loving, physical touch and the resulting dull-eyed, emotionally withdrawn human shells.)

    LaHaye presents *temperament* and *choice* in this way: She writes: “…the distinctive characteristics of our temperaments were designed before they were formed. However, He [God] gave each of us a free will to choose evil or good, and the child that is not trained to choose good will undoubtedly choose evil….Your child’s desire for evil can be related to the weaknesses of his temperament while his desire for good can be seen in the strengths of his temperament…The child is not just being obstinate and uncooperative but is following that natural desire to learn more about and to experience evil.” (p.3)

    I propose that in the very short time Harry was with Lily and James, they imparted to him the foundational training needed to begin developing his temperament-strengths; the desire for good. Tom’s lack of nurture allowed his temperament-weaknesses to override everything else, consequently he desired to “experience evil.”


  10. Open theism, maybe? Wow… It seems that her books get deeper with each passing day. Simply amazing.

  11. Not to take away from any of the great discussion here, but I find it mildly amusing how we view various statements from Rowling as the “authority over the text”. In certain cases, we feel that Rowling’s statements are no more valid than any other reader’s opinions. Such as the statments about Dumbledore being gay. On the other hand, when she makes a statement that agrees with our own interpretation, such as in this case, we like to say that she has “confirmed” our interpretation. Not that I am endorsing one view or the other, I just find it a little bit funny 🙂

    If I was forced to choose a side, I would say that although Rowling’s public statements about her books are interesting, ultimately, if they are not explicitly in the text, they are just her opinion. She may have intended the text to read in a certain way, but that is not the same as accomplishing it. If a person 100 years from now reads the series, they will not likely be aware of these statements and interviews, so they will not matter. Now that all the cards (or books in this case) are on the table, her secondary comments are of no more weight than your’s or mine.

  12. pj,

    Temperament is important. Our personalities come about through the interaction of our temperament and our environment. This isn’t determined in a few months or even a year, however. It takes years to crystallize. The year Harry spent with his mother would have spared him the infant depression sufferred by the babies who were deprived of cuddling in the orphanage. It would not have taught him to be a good man.

    Tom Riddle in the orphange could have been like the mother and touch deprived babies you speak of. But we didn’t get the impression, during Dumbledore’s visit, that the orphanage was particularly negligent. My impression was that if he had been capable of responding to love, they would have loved him, after a fashion.

    I guess the truest test would have been to put Harry in the orphanage and Tom with the Dursleys (after spending an initial year bonding with the Potters). Do any of us think that Harry would have become a megalomaniacal murderer? Or that Tom would have become a self-sacrificing hero?

    I realize that this sounds like I’m contardicting my earlier statement that neither was predestined to be what he ended up being. To a certain extent, the temperament of each did predispose him to be a certain way: loving and brave vs. cold and calculating. But their temperaments did not dictate their choices.

    Albert Bandura, a famous psychologist, has a lot to say about this, about how we are not the product of our biology or our environment, but that we shape ourselves through how we interpret what we see, and what we strive for.

  13. Reyhan, I see your point. And had Tom actually experienced life in the Dursley house, I doubt he would have allowed Dudley to bully him…yes?!?

  14. Arabella Figg says

    Something to remember in the orphanage argument. Tom was not the only orphan there, but he was the only truly problematic kid, a bully who terrorized and “changed” other children, one over whom the matron was very uneasy. The other orphans weren’t LVs in the making, according to text.

    Tom always felt he was different and special, set apart. This can bode for good or ill in children. At 11 he was highly arrogant when DD visited him. DD offered Tom a chance for a new beginning, yet Tom didn’t change his ways, he only became more subtle in acting them out.

    So I don’t think we can blame abandonment and the orphanage alone for Tom’s choices. But do I believe he was born a “bad seed,” doomed to evil? No. Sadly, there are children like him today who grow up to be sociopaths. Why that is, I’m not informed enough to know, but their circumstances aren’t all identical. Nor was Tom a “Columbine killer.” It was he who was the bully. He seems to be one of those smart kids who thrive as opportunists.

    As for Tom being raised by the Dursleys, I’ll bet he’d have had Dudley on a short leash.

    I wouldn’t even try a leash on Cleverpuss and Curious Black…

  15. Arabella Figg says

    Of course I should add, Tom was the only *wizard* in the orphanage. But he used this distinction to harm others. Some kids enjoy power and, unchecked, can become pretty bad, wizard or no.

    Have added Howliony and Pawin’ to the clowder of kitties; they’re thick as thieves with Harry Plotter…

  16. Regarding Harry and Voldemort’s innate good or evil natures, it seems we need only refer back to Dante for the answer. Here is a quote from the Michael Ward “Kappa Element” article John referred us to a couple weeks ago:

    “Dante, in his Purgatorio (XVI, 73–81), allows that “the spheres initiate your tendencies,” but still

    you have the light that shows you right from wrong,

    and your Free Will, which, though it may grow faint
    in its first struggles with the heavens, can still
    surmount all obstacles if nurtured well.

    You are free subjects of a greater power,
    a nobler nature that creates your mind,
    and over this the spheres have no control.”

    I’m no astrologer, does anyone know what planets Harry and Voldemort were born under?

  17. Harry is a Leo: brave, adventurous, loyal, fiery-tempered, a born leader. Typical Leos: Alexander the Great, Amelia Earhart, Arrnold Schwartzennager, Neil Armstorng, Napoleon Bonaparte, Robert Redford and Bill Clinton. Tom is a Capricorn: ambitious, ruthless, cold and calculating. Typical Capricorns: Richard Nixon, Mao Tse Tung, J. Edgar Hoover, Joseph Stalin, Al Capone, Muhammed Ali. Joe Frazier.

    Barbara Schermer has worked out Harry’s horoscope, assuming a DOB of July 31, 1979. You can find it at:


  18. “Capricorn: ambitious, ruthless, cold and calculating.”

    yeah, that’s me all over. 😛

  19. If you Google famous Capricorns, you will also find Denzel Washingston, Marlene Deitrich, Rudyard Kipling, John Denver, Elvis Presly and JR Tolkien and Martin Luther King.

    If you Google famous Leos, you will find Mussollini, Yasser Arafat, Alfred Hitchcock and Fidel Castro.

    Don’t take it personally.

  20. Finally a Christian article writer who hit the nail!

    Harry Potter:
    Rowling’s Christian critics miss the mark
    LA Daily News, USA
    Oct. 18, 2007 Opinion
    Tim Haddock

    [Contains spoilers]

    There are some Christian factions that love to criticize J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter books. References to witchcraft, paganism, curses and hexes make the books easy targets for the defenders of righteousness.

    It turns out these factions of Christianity miss their mark.

    Instead of focusing on how things like witchcraft and paganism are anti-Christian themes, they should have been criticizing Rowling’s interpretation of life after death.

    During her book tour visit to the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on Monday, a reporter asked Rowling to explain the last time she wrote about Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Dumbledore dies in the sixth book, but meets Harry in limbo, somewhere between life and death, near the end of “The Deathly Hallows.” Before leaving Harry, Dumbledore is seen crying in grief and shame as he says good-bye and returns to being dead, while Harry goes on living.
    …Is [J.K. Rowling] a Christian?. ‘’Yes, I am,’’ she says. ‘’Which seems to offend the religious right far worse than if I said I thought there was no God. Every time I’ve been asked if I believe in God, I’ve said yes, because I do, but no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that….
    – J.K. Rowling in Author has frank words for the religious right

    The reporter wanted to know if Dumbledore spends eternity crying and in pain. Rowling said no, that Dumbledore has a wonderful afterlife, despite the mistakes he made during his life.

    Then Rowling proceeded to explain her thoughts on the afterlife. “On any given moment, if you asked me (if) I believe in life after death, I think if you polled me regularly through the week, I think I would come down on the side of yes – that I do believe in life after death,” Rowling said. “It’s something that I wrestle
    with a lot. It preoccupies me a lot, and I think that’s very obvious within the books.”

    This is what Rowling’s Christian critics should really be angry about.

    For Rowling, the afterlife is more than a promise. It exists. Without Christ. She has created a world where the dead walk among the living, where the afterlife is for everyone; and in some regards it’s a better place than the living world. Death is not that horrible of an option.

    For many Christians, accepting Jesus Christ as savior is the only path to an afterlife. Those who don’t are lost, sent to hell, or purgatory, or someplace other than heaven.

    Rowling doesn’t need Christ. Not in her wizard world. Not in her afterlife. Not anywhere near Harry Potter.

    That is the reason Christians should be upset with Rowling – not because her child characters perform spells and curses and delve into witchcraft, but because they do not need Christ to have an afterlife. None of us do, in Rowling’s views.

    In the world of Harry Potter, dying is not something that needs to be feared. Those who are afraid of dying become corrupted, misguided, lost and alone.

    Dumbledore is the best example of what happens to Rowling’s characters who embrace the thought of an afterlife. They take chances. They challenge authority. Most importantly, they aren’t afraid to fail. Dumbledore turns out to be a failure in many ways, but it doesn’t affect his place in the afterlife. He may have regrets, but he would not trade his afterlife for a chance to return among the living.

    Harry gets to make that choice – to be dead or alive. In that sense, he is much luckier than any of us will ever be.

    That moment when Harry gets to decide if he wants to live or die best illustrates Rowling’s struggle with the concept of life after death. “The truth is that, like Graham Greene, my faith is sometimes that my faith will return,” Rowling said. “It’s something I struggle with a lot.”

    Tim Haddock writes for the Daily News’ Harry Potter blog, Portkey to Hogwarts, http://www.insidesocal.com/harrypotter.

    Technorati Tags: JK Rowling, Harry Potter


  21. For many Christians, accepting Jesus Christ as savior is the only path to an afterlife. Those who don’t are lost, sent to hell, or purgatory, or someplace other than heaven.

    Rowling doesn’t need Christ. Not in her wizard world. Not in her afterlife. Not anywhere near Harry Potter.

    That is the reason Christians should be upset with Rowling – not because her child characters perform spells and curses and delve into witchcraft, but because they do not need Christ to have an afterlife. None of us do, in Rowling’s views.

    This would not be “hitting the nail on the head.” This can be filed under “having missed the point entirely.”

  22. That all salvation comes from Christ alone does not mean God rejects those who have never heard his word. Only God saves, but how could a merciful and loving God reject those who have never heard, or, worse, those who turned away because of Christians who modeled poor Christianity to them?

    That “No one comes to the Father except through [Christ]” does not preclude that some come without being fully aware of Christ. Just because I’m always confused when I drive through New Jersey and often have no clue what road I’m on doesn’t change the end result of getting where I’m getting.

    I’m not sure I’m expressing this pretty well, but basically, well, we have to believe that we who know God, have faith and live by that faith (yes, I did just ‘sneak’ good works in there- cf. James 2:14-26) will be with God eternally. We also know that sin damages our relationships with God– particularly grave (read: mortal) sin. But I think it’s a bit presumptuous for us to put limits on the love of God, or to assume we know others’ sins or struggles. Please tell me how thinking Dumbledore would go to heaven isn’t totally making a lot of assumptions about his spiritual life.

    so, in short, the argument in the article cited is off-base in its criticisms– nowhere does Rowling say that heaven can exist apart from God. She just believes there’s room in heaven for sinners, and even room for those who lead Godly lives but don’t know God. If there isn’t, then, well, it’s not just the unbelievers who are screwed (pardon my French).


  23. You are wrong, John. You were wrong from the very beginning with your strange interpretations. And even you are Orthodox you are following blindly the heretic teachings of Calvinism which are craftily hidden in the message of the HP books.
    You cannot admit you have fallen for glass beads even you could get the pearls instead.

  24. Arabella Figg says

    John, YOU have hit the nail on the head. Also, thank you, James P. for the Dante quote on free will.

    Tuna Yumgood sends you both a treat…

  25. Could the point of that whole part of the book be that Harry wasn’t really dead and Dumbledore was. When we die we will be face with every decision and choice that we’ve made. There will be sorrow but there will be joy because we’ve finished and we will finally be in our real home. J.K. Rowling has stated several times that these books are an exploration of her faith and hope for the return of her faith. This woman has struggled with things and the reality of God that we all have. The truth is once we become Christian we are not the same anymore although we may do some of the same things. God has to do His work in us and salvation is a process that does not stop until we die. It is a daily decision. Dumbledore made many mistakes but he did many things that were good. Some times I think we over analyze the books. Just enjoy them and the message that they bring which to me, my own personal interpretation, is all of our choices and reactions count regardless of where we come from. The fact that there is so much Christian symbolism in them is just the icing on a very yummy cake. In my case the cake is red velvet.

  26. My view on Tim Haddock’s article is like what John had stated, “having missed the point entirely”.
    J K Rowling did NOT write Harry Potter as a Christian allegory. Harry Potter is not “Pilgrims Progress”! The Harry Potter series of books gives us a person writing a fanatasy story from a personal point of view where some of the beliefs of her Christian faith are hidden within the characters, events and symbolic imagery in the chapters of each of these books. Now, JKR has openly stated that she struggles with some her belief/faith issues and these issues clearly show up in the Harry Potter saga, namely the afterlife.

    Maybe those of us who are Christian believers would do better to PRAY for those “issues” that J K Rowling struggles with as a Christian, rather than blasting her out of the water for any theologically incomplete or misunderstood statement she has made during her “struggle with belief”.
    Isn’t this what the gospel teaches us to do when a brother or sister in the faith is wavering or struggling?

    “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16).

    I believe that one of the ways that Ms. Rowling was showing the direction to follow as a key to the afterlife was in chapter 16 “Godrics Hollow” when she uses a scripture quoted directly from I Corinthians 15:26, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death”, this shows that she is well aware of the direct connection between the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the believer and the final defeat of death. How many fantasy book stories exist in the cannon that quote direct from the Bible into the manuscript of the story? Not many I presume in the classics.

  27. Huh, seifli? What Calvinism?

    And where does this come from–that JKR believes in eternal life without Christ? Do some find fault with her for being conflicted about her belief in eternal life? Come now, be honest! Who doesn’t have such doubts?

    As for eternal life, one hardly dares address such an august question. We know that the ancient Greeks believed that the soul by nature was immortal, while the body was so much dross, or not very important. We also know that the Greeks believed in Hades, where all the dead dwelled as souls, or shades, which was a place of imprisonment or non-fulfillment. The Jews had a similar concept, called Sheol.

    The Christians, or at least the Orthodox, say that Christ, after his death on the Cross, descended into Hades or Sheol and freed all the righteous imprisoned there. These were the Hebrew Prophets and Kings, but, as many say, also righteous pagans.

    So, once Christ had returned to man his full birthright–eternal life as one made in God’s own image, all mankind will be resurrected at the last day. “Some to the resurrection of salvation, and some to the resurrection of damnation.” That’s the essence of the quote, anyway. So eternal life is now human destiny, and we should all do our best to be included in the former category. But as to who belongs where, best leave that to God.

  28. John Says:
    December 7th, 2007 at 12:26 pm
    “Yes, reyhan, that answers one important question (namely, Harry’s skeptical one about the reality of his King’s Cross experience) but asks another. It’s real she confirms, i.e., not just in Harry’s head, but everything happens consequent to the understanding and choices of the players. There is no destiny, prophecy, or pre-determined end without it being realized in the crucible of human perception and free-will-decision-making.
    Christian? Yep. Postmodern? Oh, yeah. These aren’t the positions of an ardent predestination Presbyterian unless I misunderstand that position.”

    In my first post, thank you for the great joy I get from your books and e-posts!

    I have long seen JKR’s master work as the story of Harry being “conformed to the image of Christ” in accordance with Calvin’s understanding of predestination. Deathly Hallows has only reinforced my thinking. Harry was prophetically “chosen” before birth to have “The Power” (gospel of Love, Truth, Light, Holy Spirit) to overcome spiritual darkness as opposed to Tom the earthbound natural man who must become a “Dark Lord”. Elect Harry was covered by Lilly’s all important sacrificial blood before his age of accountability vs. Tom with no like baptism. Dumbledore, Harry’s predecessor and guide on The Way, famously states “It is our choices that SHOW us who we are”; not MAKE us who we are. And, he latter explains that although it is theoretically possible for L. V. and Harry to choose to walk away from the prophesy, all things were working together (God’s mighty hand) to insure that neither could actually make that choice. The Heavenly Potter made His son Harry from the same lump of clay He used to make Tom. The Potter graced Harry with a regenerate heart that was made willing to choose light and Tom a serpent heart that was unable (D. H. page 710 US edition) to do so. I see JKR’s wizard world fitting very nicely within Calvin’s soteriology. And both were superb nail drivers.


  29. I have always found predestination to raise more questions than it answers. For instance, why would God condemn Tom Riddle to (eternal) death from before birth? What purpose would it serve God to “grace” Tom with a serpent’s heart and then use His mighty hand to tie Tom’s from ever being able to choose a life away from his heart’s desires?

    Another example of free-will decision-making in the Potter books is the contrast between Lupin and Greyback. I’m assuming that neither chose to become a werewolf, but look at the choices each made once becoming one.

  30. Arabella Figg says

    James P.–Exactly.

    Scripture clearly shows a balance of God’s soverignty and our responsiblity (choice). I believe God has wonderful plans for each of us, which we can embrace or throw away. God desires us to love and choose him freely; this remarkable gift of independent choice never fails to amaze me. While he desires our love, for now he is willing to tolerate rebellion, all the while willing the rebellious to submit to love’s purification.

    Now if only Tom Piddle would stop smacking little Flako…

  31. I’m a psychology major I understand how human behavior unfolds. There is no such thing as free will because the complex interaction between nature and nurture cannot easily be mapped. With that being said we have to remember that this is a book of fiction. I am an atheist and don’t believe in an after life but I think that JKR had the intentions to make VM live an eternity in a sort of limbo/hell. It is really sad and it makes me feel sad that despite being as evil as he was VM nor anyone deserves to suffer for all eternity. Death is enough simply to put an end to their victims suffering. VM was an abandoned child who was inbred and received no love or attachments from birth. I hated characters like Umbridge more than VM. VM was like a serial killer, a sad and lonely person that Harry said he felt sorry for him. Harry had 1 year of pure unconditional love, that one year could have been all of the difference.

  32. Laluna,

    If I’m reading your post correctly, you are arguing that our inability to completely predict people’s choices based on their genetics and environment is somehow evidence against free will. If that is your argument, it strikes me as an exceptionally poor argument.

    Using this approach, it seems to me that the most you could argue is that it is somehow a given that there is no free will. The comment about the complexity of the interplay between nature and nurture is nothing more than a possible explanation for why a lack of free will connot be proven.

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