“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, January 17, 2010

“Of house-elves and children’s tales, of love, loyalty and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing.” – Albus Dumbledore

In summary, Voldemort, consumed by evil, cannot comprehend what is good. Shrouded in darkness, he is not only repulsed and disgusted, but also outwitted, outmatched, overwhelmed, and overcome by everything that is good and right and true. He simply does not understand the true nature of things. As we have seen, the power of love, and what it means to love another, is lost to Voldemort because he does not love. The true nature of death eludes him because it is part of what it means to be human, and Voldemort has forsaken his humanity. More generally, the meaning of death is not far from the meaning of reality itself (see “The Problem of Death”) – but Voldemort, in exalting himself, has lost sight of all meaning other than what he finds in his own existence. Dumbledore describes all this perfectly when he explains things to Harry at Kings Cross:

“His knowledge remained woefully incomplete, Harry! That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children’s tales, of love, loyalty and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped.” – Albus Dumbledore (DH ch. 35)
There is, writes Rowling, a power, a beauty, an “ancient magic” in such things as love, sacrifice, loyalty, etc. – in all that is good. And it is a truth that this power is deeper and greater by far than that of any magic. Voldemort cannot see this – he cannot see goodness for what it is. Having forsaken the truth, he can no longer understand it, “and if he had been able to understand, he would not have been Lord Voldemort” (DH ch. 35).

It is not, I think, very different in the real world – there is a depth and power in all that is good – a power that reaches to the foundation of reality itself. Turning to evil, therefore, puts one out of touch with reality (see also “The Ruin of Satan,” “An Unbalanced Duality,” and “A Deeper Wisdom”).

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