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Divided to fall

A magical world is in danger of splitting, writes Linda McTurk

We can feel judged by others

ALL is not well in J. K. Rowling’s magical world of wizards, witches and fantastical beasts. A dark wizard has escaped and is gathering followers to wage war. In Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald released at cinemas yesterday (Friday 16 November), hope rests with a young wizard intent on keeping the peace.

At the end of the first Fantastic Beasts film, powerful dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) was captured by the magic police with the help of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). But carrying out his threat, Grindelwald has escaped custody and wants to raise up pure-blood wizards to join his fight to rule over all non-magical beings. Should he succeed, his version of society would be authoritarian, divided and prejudiced against anyone who is not a pure-blood wizard.

To stop Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) of magic academy Hogwarts asks Newt, his trusted former student, to track down Grindelwald. At first Newt is reluctant to help, but Dumbledore encourages him by boosting his confidence. He says: ‘Do you know why I admire you, Newt? You do not seek power. You simply ask, “Is the thing right?”’

Having already accepted the mission, Newt finds out that the task is more dangerous and challenging than he had originally thought. Lines are drawn even among close friends and family in an increasingly divided wizarding world.

Some cinemagoers may be surprised to find the theme of a divisive society in a fictional story of magic, because many of us associate the word ‘magic’ with solutions. We might feel that our lives would be better if only our problems would magically disappear. But in J. K. Rowling’s fantasy world, not every being has the same magic bloodline or ability. And as beings with more privileges grow in their desire for power, magic has become a problem rather than a remedy.

As in the world of Fantastic Beasts, prejudice exists between groups of people in almost every sector of society. We might feel ostracised because of our age, gender, social class or ability. We can feel judged by others because of our employment status, education or ethnicity. In some cases, though, we may have been the people doing the judging.

The Bible tells the story of Peter, one of Jesus’ closest followers, who was capable of being prejudiced towards others. But over time God showed Peter that his attitude was wrong. Peter realised: ‘God accepts every person whatever his or her culture or ethnic background [and] welcomes all who revere him and do right’ (Acts 10:34, 35 The Voice).

God doesn’t judge people based on their reputation, social status or appearance. God even accepts people who, like Peter, have hurt others. He loves us regardless of who we are, where we come from or what we have done.

If we are willing to go to God and say sorry for the wrong things that we have done, we can be forgiven and freed to forgive others who have hurt us. With God’s help, we can enjoy peace in our hearts and in our relationships. And that is fantastic news for us all.

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