January 6, 2008
Leloup is a French Biblical Scholar who has taken a unique approach. He uses the recently revealed Gospel of Judas and creates a narrative. Judas, who is much misunderstood, is brought into a compassionate light. It was an easy read and enjoyable read that was easily one of the most profound that I’ve read recently. My only complaint was that identified Mary Magdalene as both the wife/disciple of Christ and the sister of Lazarus. Many other sources believe that it was a different Mary. No one knows for sure though, I suppose.
At the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry names his son after both Dumbledore and Snape. It seems like an odd choice at first, but the more I thought about it, the more touching it was. Snape is Judas, at least the Judas portrayed in the Gnostic Gospels. He betrayed, but only because he was asked to. Both Snape and Judas are dark and pessimistic. Both were made fun of as children, yet both eventually realized the power of love. Unfortunately, both have suffered through being the scapegoat in their respective stories.
A link on a Harry Potter forum online led me to a side, which discussed the idea of Pharmakos. Plato used this word. It means a wizard, magician, poisoner and scapegoat. It is no coincidence that Snape is both the potions teacher and scapegoat. Pharmakos, as Derrida saw it, also represented the “other.” In Lost the “others” are the epitome of what it means to be the outsider who is feared and blamed. Of course the Losties are the one that are the “others” to the natives.
Thus the theme of being the other or the outsider extends to the writing of Dostoyevsky. Leloup mentions the Brothers Karasmov, which is a book feature by Lost. Henry Gale, aka Ben Linus, is seen reading it in the Hatch in Season 2. Ivan, the main character is a like Judas, and in turn, Snape.
Leloup also draws upon Sartre’s masterpiece Being and Nothingness. Leloup suggests that Grace transcends Nihilism. Judas is not damned, but rather he ends up in God’s good Grace for his love and personal sacrifice. He didn’t always understand intellectually, but emotionally he connected with Jesus.
It is the stance that Judas takes on Love that connects the whole thing to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and thus my life. Leloup writes on page 40, “As for us, we can refuse this choice; we can refuse to be loved among all men and all women. And this is where the demon is: in the possibility of refusing this gift of love. It is this demon who renounces love, for he no longer believes in it.” Judas doesn’t believe in love at first, but later he comes to see that, “It is not suffering that saves and heals, it is the consciousness in which it is experienced. It is not the cross that we bear that saves and heals us; it is the love in which we bear it. It is not death that saves and heals: it is the fearlessness and trust in which we enter into it.” (130)
As Jesus faced his death fearlessly, so does Harry Potter and Charlie Pace. This self-sacrifice is the only true act of heroism. Love is the only thing worth living or dying for. The abstract notions of God, Good and Evil are irrelevant. Judas realized that the Hell is the denial of love, the denial of our very essence, our souls, and our connection to the divine. The good news is, once we over come our fears and stop denying ourselves, we are free at last. We are all flawed, no one expects us to be perfect. We are bound to make mistakes. In the end, the worst crime is simply to hold no regret for our transgressions. The truth is we are all human, yet we are all capable of becoming a messiah. There is not just one savoir. There are millions of saviors. We are all capable of saving ourselves and helping others. Love and compassion lie at the heart of everything human.
Leloup explains in his appendix/reflection that he views the terms of Eros and Thanatos and through Pleroma and Knossos. We thirst for fullness and fear annihilation. Love is what we ache and hunger for while fearing death and emptiness. We must die before death in sort of spiritual initiation. Leloup sees both Jesus and Judas experiencing a sort of spiritual death and rebirth before their actual death. Harry Potter, Snape and the Losties, as well as Heathcliff and Cathy all experience initiation.
In October of 2005, I also experienced my own initiation.