A Story from my Past

Alternate title: A word of caution.

I am a huge fan of Harry Potter, but not one of the crazy ones any more.

That is the important part, mind you; the part that says “Any More.” Imagine back to a time when there were still only six books in the series. We, that is to say, the fans, were waiting with an almost rabid curiosity (seriously, I would have bitten someone for more information) for the seventh book. We would go to any lengths for information, the speculation was rampant, and fan fiction writers were in their Pre-Twilight Golden Age. (Their next Golden Age would come plenty soon enough, though.)

As the release came closer, things started to get a little funny. People were trying to convince other people that their fanfiction was actually the legendary leak from the initial printing run. Some were obvious forgeries, with poor spelling, grammar, or formatting (the first page in a chapter might look off, or the margins would be wrong for a standard book from the English publisher).

Then one came out that had all the hallmarks of being the True Heir. The spelling and grammar were solid, it was written in the same tone of prose as Rowling would use, the jacket was leaked and had everything down to the legal disclaimers and fine print intact as you would expect it; the copyright information was valid…

Like thousands of other Potter fans, I flocked to this release; I thought I could reach out and touch the FUTURE (the leak released about six weeks prior to the scheduled release). I devoured it, starting with all the excitement of a child presented with their favorite food. As I got deeper in, though, a look of sourness spread over my face… Like the child who has finished their favorite part of the meal only to come face-to-face with the ugly reality that they still had broccoli to read.

There are those who knew me around this time, who will recall.

“The leak is a forgery,” I would tell them after I had read it but before the book released. “The relationships are done really poorly, I’ve read fanfics that did them better. And the story goes off on a tangent, and a third of the book is nothing but camping.

Don’t bother downloading it. It is a well done forgery, but a waste of your time nonetheless. JK Rowling would never do that to us, the fans. Never.”

Some weeks later, the book released. I was there at midnight, breathing heavily, sizing everyone up to see who I thought I could beat in a fight if there wasn’t enough stock of the book. I was also wearing a heavy jacket. Thinking back, I can see why people were wary of me… AS THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN.

Luckily (for them) there was enough stock to last until the third in line (I showed up at 7pm for the midnight release. Apparently normal people don’t camp out for Harry Potter. First, normal people suck. Second, I was glad to be so far forward in the line.). I exercised my weak willpower to its very limits to walk to the car and get it moving. I did not read on the drive home. I did not open the book. I did not even read the jacket. This was a hallowed moment, to be enjoyed in the fullness of time at home, with a lamp over my head, a drink by my side.

And so it was that I made it home without incident, and grabbed my drink, and turned on my reading lamp, and set the book gently down on my lap, admiring it. I then opened the cover, and read the jacket. It matched the jacket from the leak, but still I was not worried. You can leak a jacket with a cell phone camera; that will hardly allow you to leak a 600 page hardcover book. I flipped pages of legal information and dedications, until I arrived at chapter one. My eyes opened a little wider as I saw that the first page was written exactly as the leak had said. I was breathing a little shallower by now, nervousness creeping into my mind for the first time. “Maybe,” I thought with renewed optimism, “The author of that leak had actually seen the book at the publisher and was able to copy a page, or a few pages. Everything will be all right.”

And so I turned the page again, and again, and again, each time finding words, spacing, and events exactly as they had appeared in the leak. With the feeling of horror one can only experience once per life, I realized that the world truly is a cursed place, and that betrayal can come in the most surprising and profound ways.

The leak I had read was legitimate, and I had negatively criticized it to my friends.

I had said “JK Rowling would never do this to us!”

I now had to walk towards my own reckoning. I had to admit to those who I had spoken to with an almost religious fervor that I was mistaken. That JK Rowling WOULD do this to us. There are those who stood by her, and I stand by her still, but I have to admit that Harry Potter has six amazing books and one good book. I had to admit that I–was–wrong.

What is the point of this story, then? The point is that you should never make absolute statements about your idols. You must eat your own shame when you say “That could NEVER happen,” when that thing happens.

I wrote this specifically in response to a statement made by someone with whom I had a disagreement.

“God said His Creation was Good! That means there was no death, because if there was death and God said it was Good, that means He thinks death is Good! And God would NEVER say that!”

Be careful, friend. Believing as you believe with the faith that you have could leave you in a very awkward position if you claim to know the mind of God, and are incorrect. If you stand at Armageddon, and see the fullness of the book of Revelations, and there is still death… What will you say to those to whom you professed such strong beliefs?

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