BYU business school dean finds gospel truths in Harry Potter

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Brigitte Madrian, dean of the Marriott School of Business, shares five gospel truths from J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter”. (Addie Blacker)

Brigitte Madrian, dean of the Marriott School of Business, offered remarks during a devotional address on Tuesday, Oct. 8. She shared stories and lessons from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series as she spoke on five gospel truths found in the books.

After almost giving birth on an airplane and being confined to 10 weeks of bed rest, Madrian found a love of Harry Potter. She talked about how she enjoyed everything from the characters’ creative names, the magical creatures, the creative variety of potion ingredients, and the humanity of imperfect characters.

“But most of all, I loved the universal themes of the books: the power of love and sacrifice, the fight of good against evil, the quest to conquer death,” Madrian said.

Through the themes exhibited in in these books, she shared five gospel truths, the first of which is that all are alike unto God.

“All are alike unto God”

Madrian elaborated on this point by first contrasting the character and desires of Harry and Voldemort. She noted Voldemort’s narrow-mindedness in viewing that everyone — with an exception of Purebloods — is completely expendable. On the other hand, Harry’s innocence and lack of magical knowledge made him unaware of the magical world’s social prejudices. This was exhibited in the way he treated all magical members the same, whether they were house elves or goblins.

Madrian related that, as Harry exemplified, love must be shown to each other because everyone is alike as a child of God.

“God loves each one of you, and He asks and He commands that we show that same love for each other,” she said.

Weaknesses can become strengths

For the second gospel truth, Madrian talked about three ways weaknesses can be made strong. Among which was realizing that our weaknesses can be strengths.

She told of how the compassion Harry showed toward Peter Pettigrew in letting him escape caused many terrible things to happen. Madrian also explained that, on the other hand, Harry’s kindness toward others was also a strength in that he befriended Dobby who played in instrumental role in destroying the Horcruxes and, in turn, defeating Voldemort.

Madrian related this to her own life, saying that though her coming to BYU is a challenge and weakness, because after being away for so long, she sometimes feels out of place in a university with Latter-day Saint traditions. It is also a strength because she has knowledge from outside the Latter-day Saint community that can benefit her in her work as a dean.

The future is unknown

Through the trials and experiences gained in life, Madrian talked about the third truth — the future is often unknown. Just as Harry and his friends faced many uncertainties and made many harrowing discoveries, life is also unpredictable. But so are the blessings.

“Our job is to go forward in faith despite not having a full knowledge of all things,” Madrian said. 

The Lord will magnify righteous works

She introduced the fourth truth in saying that the “Lord will magnify your capabilities in doing His work.”

Madrian related this to her favorite scene in the third Harry Potter book where Harry and Hermione time travel to save two innocent lives. She explained that, during this time, Harry faces a dilemma at the lake while watching his past self being attacked by Dementors — whether to watch the event play out or take action. He eventually realizes that he is supposed to save himself.

Madrian said that when asked about how he managed a seemingly unmanageable feat, Harry replied that he could now do it because he already had.

Just as Harry received strength, Madrian talked about how the Lord also gives strength to those with righteous intent, but one must not wait for help to come.

“If you, like Harry, are standing at the edge of your metaphorical lake waiting for someone else to make the first move … wait no more,” she said.

Christ authors salvation

The final truth Madrian talked about is that “Jesus Christ is the author of our salvation”. She talked about how the central theme of the Harry Potter series is the quest to conquer death. 

However, just as was written on Harry’s parent’s grave and is expressed in 1 Corinthians 15:26, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”

Madrian explained that there is one great character in the Plan of Salvation — Jesus Christ. She said that it is through His sacrifice and our own repentance that we are able to overcome death and sin and live again.

In closing, Madrian invited the audience to show love and pray, remembering and acting on the five truths she discussed in the devotional address.

“Armed with this vision, I challenge you to show a greater measure of Christlike love,” she said. “I invite you to prayerfully ask the Lord to help you identify your weaknesses, that through His grace your weak things may become strong. I implore you to hold fast to your faith, weak as it may be, as you navigate the uncertain terrain of this mortal life.”

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