Saturday, September 15, 2007


"'I had a dream about a motorbike,' said Harry, remembering suddenly. 'It was flying.' Uncle Vernon nearly crashed into the car in front. He turned right around in his seat and yelled at Harry, his face like a gigantic beetroot with a moustache, 'MOTORBIKES DON'T FLY!'"
(Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone, 24).

Except, it turns out, that they do. In Jo Rowling's world of wizards and muggles motorbikes do, in fact, fly (though in flagrant violation of Ministry of Magic laws concerning the enchantment of muggle artifacts, cf. the Weasley's flying Ford Anglia). What is more, Vernon Dursley knows that they fly, or at least that they very well might fly if a wizard got hold of one. Vernon Dursley knows about the wizarding world. He knows that it exists, he knows that Harry's parents were wizards, he knows about Albus Dumbledore, and he also knows by now that Harry is a wizard too. Why, then, does he continually close his eyes to the relentless truth that magic is a part of the fabric of reality in his world?

One of my good friends is an honest to goodness magician. It's what he does for a living. He makes tables fly and women vanish and he can change an ace of spades into a jack of diamonds. His name is Derek and he is the person, more than anyone else, who has helped me to see the danger and horror of that accompanies the death of the imagination. He helped me to understand how to look at the world with a greater sense of wonder. He showed me that above all we choose to see wonder, we choose to experience magic in our lives. I have no interest in knowing how it is that Derek makes things fly. People who need to know a magician's tricks have completely failed to understand what it is that magicians do. They don't understand that knowing won't make it more magical. The magic, the wonder, is in the choosing. We experience the magical and miraculous when we adjust the way that we see the world.

It was Chesterton who said "the world will not perish due to a lack of wonders, but due to a lack of wonder." All of the great accomplishments of civilizations, all of the glory and wonder of creation, and all of the art and literature the world has to offer, every miracle ever performed, are so much nonsense and waste in the hands of a person who is unwilling to see them. The same is true of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is Vernon Dursley's great sin. He has no interest in living a life of wonder. He chooses to live a mundane life.