This is probably the last straw for those of you who think I have lost it (I never had it to lose). I love the Harry Potter set of books by J.K. Rowling. What a creative mind and certainly an enchanting look at life from the viewpoint of a wizard. Yes, I know it is fantasy. No, I don’t believe or condone witchcraft, but I see the movies as housing the values of friendship, truth, sacrifice, love, and seeking what is good, that parallel what I seek as a Lay Cistercian. If you can’t get beyond the witchcraft, I suggest you not read the Bible. It is full of people who sin. I try to seek God where I am, and one of those places is when I watch Harry Potter Movies.
Below is an article about some sayings of Professor Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. I wanted to use the whole article from SYFY to keep its thoughts intact without interruption from me. The article follows my reflections on each of the twelve quotes and how they have allowed me to grow from self to God as a Lay Cistercian. I also like this article because you can click on the source and load a Youtube from each movie where the quote has been taken. Quotes from the book and not the movie do not have a Youtube video. Go to a place of silence and solitude, where you have access to this blog, and let your mind be filled with goodness and love. Thanks, Lisa.
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore was the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for most of the Harry Potter series. He was a powerful wizard who was well-known for defeating the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, founding the Order of the Phoenix, and being the only one Voldemort ever feared. He left quite a legacy behind when he was killed at Hogwart’s Astronomy Tower in 1997 and has far from been forgotten since.
Dumbledore, who would have been 136 this year, was not a perfect man and certainly made mistakes. However, he also inspired countless people in the fight against evil and learned enough over the years to have quite a lot of wisdom to share. It’s this legacy of Dumbledore that I want to revisit through some of his greatest quotes from the books and films in remembrance of the character. These quotes inspired those in the Harry Potter world he left behind 20 years ago and can inspire those of us today beyond that fictional universe as well.
Here are 12 of Dumbledore’s most memorable quotes.
From Neville Longbottom’s first year at Hogwarts, it was clear the clumsy boy was a real Gryffindor at heart. Dumbledore makes sure the whole school knows it too when he awards him House points at the end of theSorcerer’s Stone film. While everyone else who received points obtains them for things you might expect, Neville receives them for something that might not as easily come to mind. It took a lot of courage for Neville to stand up to Harry, Ron and Hermione. It’s much more difficult to do what’s right when you’re facing those close to you, who you know and trust, than facing those you believe to be in the wrong and generally wouldn’t trust very much. After all, standing up to friends could hurt the friendship or their feelings and if you want to avoid that it could be easy to remain silent. If they’re people you trust it also makes it easier to give in to peer pressure and go along with them. It takes a lot of strength to realize you sometimes need to speak up to those closest to you to really do the right thing.
A Man for All Seasons Quotes Showing 1-27 of 27“Thomas More: …And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned around on you–where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast–man’s laws, not God’s–and if you cut them down…d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.”
― Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons
Hermione is given this line in the Chamber of Secrets film, but originally Dumbledore said it in the Sorcerer’s Stone novel. He says it during his conversation with Harry after the young Gryffindor wakes up from his encounter with Voldemort and Quirrell. They’re discussing what happened when Harry starts to say Voldemort’s name before stopping and continuing by saying You-Know-Who instead. Dumbledore interrupts him there and tells Harry to say Voldemort and to “always use the proper name for things.” Being afraid of even saying his name adds to the fear Voldemort has already inspired and gives him more power over them. By saying his name, they’re taking that away from Voldemort and showing their defiance. It’s something Harry will remember for the remainder of the series and others will follow in his lead until the show of strength is turned against Harry and his allies and used as a way to track them down in the Deathly Hallows book.
Something Dumbledore has to consistently remind Harry of throughout the series is that Harry and Voldemort are different despite their similarities. In the Chamber of Secrets movie, the wizard tries to impart this knowledge when Harry begins to notice how similar he is to the Dark Lord towards the end. They share qualities, but that doesn’t make them the same. It’s what they do with them that matters. Dumbledore knows that a person’s true nature is revealed based on what they decide to do in life. If two people have great power, it tells you nothing about who they are if that’s all you know about them. However if one person chooses to use that power to hurt people and inspire fear while another uses it to help people and inspire hope, it shows exactly the type of individual they are. This won’t be the last time Dumbledore has to remind Harry of this.
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
Dumbledore shares these words when he’s speaking to the students at the beginning of Harry’s third year at Hogwarts in the Prisoner of Azkaban film after informing them of what’s happening and that the Dementors are present at the school. It’s a reminder to those assembled that hope is never lost in dark times. For example, the Dementors may feed on happiness but resisting them just requires concentrating on a happy memory to cast the Patronus charm. Goodness and happiness can never be eliminated no matter how bad things are. You just have to remember and not let the dark overwhelm you.
“You place too much importance, and you always have done, on the so-called purity of blood! You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be!”
After everything that happened at the Triwizard Tournament in the Goblet of Firebook, Dumbledore tries to convince Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge that it’s time to prepare for Voldemort’s return. Unfortunately Fudge isn’t keen on the idea of accepting Voldemort is back and when Dumbledore mentions sending envoys to the giants Fudge responds by saying people hate the giants and that such an action would be the end of his career. Fudge clearly cares more about his job than about taking any steps against Voldemort at this point. Dumbledore accuses him of being blinded by his office and says these words to the minister. They evoke a similar meaning to Dumbledore’s Chamber of Secrets quote about abilities and choices. Who cares what someone is born? That tells you nothing about a person’s true nature. What matters is what happens once they grow up. You can never judge someone on their beginning. Unfortunately it’s something that Fudge here does not understand.
Dumbledore addresses the school and the visitors from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang after the loss of Cedric at the Triwizard Tournament in the Goblet of Fire novel. He’s honest about how Cedric died and about the return of Voldemort. Despite how dreadful and scary this news is however, the headmaster offers these hopeful words. He highlights how they are stronger when they stand together and says, “Lord Voldemort’s gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust.” He then reiterates how their differences don’t matter and they should never let those get between them. By remembering the bonds they have that transcend their differences and how they are all connected by what they want for the world, Dumbledore knows they can be triumphant.
Before leaving Hogwarts for the summer in the Goblet of Fire movie, Dumbledore tells Harry this during their final talk. Voldemort has officially returned, which means things are going to get worse moving forward … and when they do, everyone will be presented with a choice. The easy thing might be to just go along with whatever happens or just hide away from it all. This is far from the right thing to do, though. The right thing to do is often the harder path. It means standing up to darkness in some way to try to make a difference, no matter what happens. This comes with its own set of difficulties and is why it may be easier to just do nothing. It’s a choice everyone makes, if they realize it or not, as Voldemort continues to once again rise.
When in the Half-Blood Prince book Dumbledore and Harry are discussing the prophecy from the following year, he ends up telling Harry this about Voldemort creating “his own worst enemy, just as tyrants everywhere do!” Since Voldemort was on the lookout for such a person, he acted quickly when hearing the prophecy and through his actions picked the person to most likely defeat him. Not all tyrants do this of course, but Dumbledore’s words still ring true. Tyrants fear their people because they can bring about the tyrant’s downfall. Eventually someone will want to strike back and that person will inspire others and more will follow until it leads to the tyrant’s end. They cannot stop this and the more they try to, the more they are coming closer to lighting the spark that will destroy them.
Before Dumbledore and Harry head out to find a Horcrux together in the Half-Blood Prince film, they share a brief talk where the headmaster tells this to the boy. The wizard is quite right that others often belittle kindness. It’s true in real life as well. It is a trait not valued as much as it should be, but seen by some as a weakness. They are blind to how important and powerful being kind can be. Kindness means more and can change more in life than people realize. It is a short sentence in the span of the movie and even within the conversation, but it’s some of Dumbledore’s wisest words.
In the Half-Blood Prince book, Dumbledore does not speak these words at this moment but Harry is thinking back to a time when Dumbledore shared this sentiment with him in Sorcerer’s Stone. Here Harry remembers this during Dumbledore’s funeral when everyone is gathered. He thinks about his first trip into the forest when he encountered the thing that was Voldemort and faced him. Not long after, during a discussion with Dumbledore, the older wizard brought this up. It might certainly feel sometimes like the battle Harry is fighting is a losing one, and that no matter what they do they can never win. Yet Dumbledore emphasizes that it’s still important to keep fighting. That only by being vigilant and never backing down evil can be kept from overcoming good. It will always exist, but that doesn’t mean it always has to be in control. It can be kept back in the world as long as people never give up the fight. By never giving up the fight, evil can be kept from gaining ground.
This quote is from Dumbledore’s conversation with Harry in the Deathly Hallows Part 2 movie, when the Chosen One finds himself in the strange King’s Cross station-looking place where he has a choice of taking a train or going back. Dumbledore understands how powerful words can be, which is why he changes a past saying here. Before he does, though, he says this truthful line so Harry understands. Whether they’re written or spoken, words matter and can have a huge impact on people. It’s why people need to consider their words carefully. People might think saying one thing here or there means nothing in the scheme of things, but those words have consequences. Words can do wondrous and terrible things, and it’s important for people to remember that.
(FROM THE BOOK) In the Deathly Hallows book while at that King’s Cross-like station, Dumbledore tells Harry more about his history and how he turned down being Minister for Magic more than once. When Harry says he would have been better than Fudge and Scrimgeour, Dumbledore isn’t sure. He knows power was a temptation and weakness of his, which leads to these words. Dumbledore’s experience has taught him that it’s those not seeking power that should perhaps have it. Those that find they have it and are surprisingly suited for it. They’re the ones that might not be greedy, that might not forget to help others, and might be able to resist any temptations that go with that power to do what should be done as a leader with the power they have.”
A LAY CISTERCIAN REFLECTS ON SOME QUOTES FROM THE HAPPY POTTER MOVIES
I love to watch Harry Potter movies, from the books by J.K. Rolling. They are filled with wonder and excitement as the three main characters begin to confront evil as personified by Lord Voldemort (the one who must not be named). In particular, there are some movie quotes from above that have particular meanings as I measure them against my Lay Cistercian spirituality (as I understand it).
MY COMMENTARY ON THE QUOTES
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.”
This quote began my Lectio Divina meditation (Philippians 2:5) about standing up to your friends when they are not consistent with what you know to be authentic spirituality. My thoughts went to a friend who is quite talented and focused on the gift of healing. He has a good heart and wants to respond to what he considers to be the healing of unclean spirits in others. As a newly professed member of the Body of Christ, his overall knowledge of the titanic battles we have had to fight and the controversies we have had to endure about who Christ is is almost non-existent. So, when he began spouting all theories about why he could heal, a red flag popped in my mind. Based on my past study of the Scriptures and Existential Phenomenology, these ideas don’t make sense. He can justify everything he does by Scripture and has a particular point of view that is very much Donatist and Gnostic in theory (both heresies). If it was not from God, why is he healing people, he reasoned. He is very much at odds with the heritage of our Church down through the centuries and its attempts to be exorcists to unclean spirits, a subject with which I have limited experience since I am an ordained exorcist. I had to tell him to disregard all the spurious and authentic theories behind his healings and embrace the simplicity of simply laying on of hands. It is very difficult to give up what you think is causing the healing in favor of just Faith in the power of Christ to change people. The Devil, I told him, loves to use healing and powers like this by zealous members to seduce them into thinking that this or that theory causes them to be so powerful and seemingly in control. Only Christ is in control and, I might add, strengthened with his Body (us). No one speaks for God except Christ or anyone to whom he entrusts that privilege.
This saying from the Harry Potter movies is one that has helped me realize that the enemy (Satan) can not only infiltrate our enemies but sometimes our friends. That is difficult because I tend to avoid the truth, and telling someone to abandon all in favor of Christ’s healing power in them, is not popular, but it is the right thing to do.
This is perhaps my favorite quote. Our choices define who we are and, most importantly, who we become. We are the sum of those choices, like a snowball at the top of the hill rolling down and picking up snow until it becomes huge at its bottom. Good and poor choices comprise my particular life. I try to learn from these choices. Being evil means that my bad choices are bad, but I think they are good.