Happiness Can Be Found Even In The Darkest of Times : A Glimpse Into a Virtual Harry Potter Book Talk

Posted on
April 28, 2020
By Candice Benjes-Small - Head of Research


“…I could do with a few laughs. We could all do with a few laughs. I’ve got a feeling we’re going to need more than usual before long.” Harry Potter in Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, p. 733.

Earlier this month, I joined members of the W&M Wizards and Muggles Club in Zoom for a Harry Potter book discussion. In November and February I had co-hosted similar Harry Potter discussions with Maggie Aschmeyer, the Hufflepuff Head of House, in Swem. I was ready for a break from the news and to my delight found the Zoom meeting to be filled with laughter.

The book discussions have been inspired by the popular podcast, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. Created by two divinity school students, the podcast uses sacred text techniques to analyze the Harry Potter books.  In the most recent meeting, we tackled chapter 17 of Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, “The Four Champions.” Maggie began by having us explore the chapter through the theme of “serenity.” Which characters exhibited serenity? Which did not? And what does “serenity” look like in the Harry Potter world?

We next used the technique called Lecto Divina in which one person randomly selects a sentence from the chapter and then the group analyzes it through four lenses:

  • Narrative: What is literally happening in the narrative?
  • Allegory: What is happening at a deeper, spiritual level?
  • Contemplation: How can I relate my past experiences to this passage?
  • Invitation: What concrete action am I being called to do in the future by this passage?

We closed by sharing favorite lines from the chapter. Many of us were drawn to sentences which emphasized how very young Harry is in this book, such as the observation about how much taller the other Champions are than Harry.  This led to a lively discussion about how Harry’s parents were only 20-years-old when they were killed by Voldemort, and what it must have been like to start a family while fighting the war. 

Interested in joining the next book discussion? Contact Maggie at measchmeyer@email.wm.edu