Brandon Vogt

5 Reasons to Copy Harry Potter’s Strategy [VIDEO #2]

NOTE: This is Video #2 in my new 5-part series “Why It’s Time for a Catholic Dumbledore’s Army (and Why You Need to Join)”! Watch the video above or read the transcript below. And sign up to get the rest of the videos at CatholicHogwarts.com!


 

Welcome back to this free video series on “Why It’s Time for a Catholic Dumbledore’s Army (and Why You Need to Join)”!

Again, I’m Brandon Vogt, bestselling author of seven books, including Why I Am Catholic and RETURN. I also work for Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, and I was recently honored by FOCUS, the Catholic campus ministry network, as one of the Top 30 Catholics Under 30…although I’m 32 now, so I feel like I’m kind of aging out of the young adult world. Ha!

Anyways, in the last video, Video #1, we learned the backstory on how Harry Potter saved Hogwarts and the entire wizarding world. Remember that? His solution was to create Dumbledore’s Army, a special training group where all his friends could learn practical skills for fighting in the battle to save the world.

But why should this matter for Catholics? Why should Catholics follow this strategy today?

Those are good questions, and here’s where I had another epiphany.

I realized this: we Catholics today are basically in the same situation as Harry and his friends.

To show you that, let me give you five specific connections between us and Harry’s group of friends. Sound good? OK.

First, we’re in a battle. Now, we talked about this a little in Video #1. Obviously, this was true for Harry and his friends—they were in a battle. The evil Lord Voldemort was back, and Voldemort wanted to kill Harry and rule the wizarding world.

But this is also true for us Catholics, and we can’t be naive about it. If you doubt me, if you don’t think we’re in a battle, just take a simple look around the culture. Our faith is being attacked on nearly every front.

Now, I don’t mean a physical battle. Obviously, in general, people aren’t threatening to burn down our churches or physically harm us. But we’re in a very serious spiritual battle; real souls are hanging in the balance.

You know, last year I emailed all of my email subscribers—that’s roughly 70,000 people–and I asked them, “What’s the #1 thing you struggle with as a Catholic?” I didn’t provide multiple choice options, because I wanted people to answer from their heart, to tell me in their own words what they most struggled with.

Thousands of people replied, and you know what the most common answer was? It was some version of, “I feel so nervous as a Catholic. I’m afraid. I’m scared. I feel squeezed in by the culture. I feel so much pressure from friends and family about what I believe as a Catholic, because I know my views are less and less popular.”

Specifically, they mentioned hot-button issues like sexuality, abortion, contraception, marriage, transgenderism, and more. In all those cases, they said, we Catholics are just out of step with the mainstream culture. They said, we’re terrified whenever we find ourselves in conversations about those things, because we have no idea what to say or how to act.

Does that sound familiar to you? Do you ever get nervous when these things come up?

Now, I was also struck by the emails I got from parents, who told me they had no idea how to talk about these difficult issues with their children, whether young children, teenagers, or young adults. Dozens of parents said their college kids came home from school, announced they were an atheist or they no longer attended Mass, and the parents just didn’t know what to say.

Has that ever happened to you? Has it happened to other parents you know? Can you think of someone in your parish whose children were raised in the Church, but have since drifted away? I’m guessing you can think of many examples.

We all struggle with these issues. So like Harry Potter and his friends, we know we’re in a battle. You know this: if you’re Catholic, your views are increasingly unpopular and are increasingly coming under attack. In fact, I’m pretty sure you’ve already experienced this. You’ve already noticed how unpopular your views are, right?

So we must face that fact: we’re in a battle. We can’t be like Dolores Umbridge—remember the last video—and pretend that everything is just fine, and that the Catholic Church is doing just great, and that there are no serious threats. That’s just not true. We are in a battle.

But here’s the second connection to Harry Potter: our professors are not training us on the skills we need.

Now, I touched on this in Video #1. Most Catholics just aren’t getting much help on these issues from their parishes and schools.

It was the same with Harry Potter and his friends. Their “Defense Against the Dark Arts” class, taught by Dolores Umbridge, was a complete joke. It gave them zero help for the impending battle against Voldemort.

And the same is true for most of us Catholics. Think about it: when was the last time you heard a priest or parish leader teach you how to handle conversations about atheism or same-sex marriage? When did they offer a course on transgenderism? When did they teach you how to explain why you can trust the Gospels, or why they’re reliable? If you’re like most Catholics, the answer is “never.”

So that’s another connection to Harry Potter: our professors are not training us on the skills we need.

Here’s the third connection: we need more than just information. Remember that with Harry and his friends, Dolores Umbridge basically made them sit and read from textbooks the entire class, every day.

Now that can be somewhat helpful. You’ll get some useful information from your textbooks. But textbooks won’t teach you the practical skills you need in the real world.

The same is true for us Catholics. Most of us went through religious education, or RCIA, or we’ve joined some sort of Bible Study or small group study. Or maybe we read Catholic books, or we often visit Catholics blogs or listen to podcasts.

All of that is good. But it’s one thing to consume a lot of information; it’s a totally different thing to apply it, to put it in action, to use it in the real world. That requires a whole different set of skills.

Harry Potter and his friends just weren’t getting that in their class, and Catholics today aren’t getting it from our parishes and schools.

Which bring us to the fourth connection: we need a guide.

Dolores Umbridge couldn’t give the students at Hogwarts what they needed, so they looked somewhere else: they looked to Harry Potter.

Now, this is important: Harry was not an all-star wizard at this point. He wasn’t on the level of, say, Dumbledore, his great hero and mentor. But he was just a couple steps ahead of the rest of his friends, and he did have a bunch of practical experience that they lacked, since Harry had personally battled Voldemort a few times in the previous books.

Again, this is important: the students didn’t just try to learn these practical skills on their own, without guidance. They turned to someone who was just a couple steps ahead of them, who could teach them, who had the skills they needed and who had honed those strategies in the real world.

We Catholics need the same thing. We need a guide.

If we want to learn how to be clear and confident in our beliefs, to discuss them with ease, we need someone to guide us and show us the way–someone like Harry Potter.

And that brings us to the fifth and final connection between us and Harry Potter’s friends: we need community.

Notice how Harry and his friends banded together to create Dumbledore’s Army. They didn’t go at it alone. They created this secret, underground group and helped each other learn these skills.

Now, this was critical because when they came together, they realized they each had strengths to offer each other. For example, Nevil Longbottom was clumsy with spells, but he was brilliant with herbology. So when all these students came together, they helped each other tremendously.

Also, during their secret gatherings for Dumbledore’s Army, they split off into pairs to practice the techniques they learned from Harry. I just love this.

Remember that Dolores Umbridge had the students sitting at their individual desks, reading textbooks all day—each student all by themselves. She kept them isolated, like many of Catholics are today.

But in Dumbledore’s Army, they not only joined a community of other wizards, but they got to practice—they got to try things out, to see what works and what doesn’t, and to learn from their mistakes. This is the power of joining a movement, of joining with other people. You’ll do far more in community than on your own.

So I hope you can see why Dumbledore’s Army is such a helpful model for us Catholics. To put it simply, we need a Catholic Dumbledore’s Army today.

If you aren’t part of something like a Catholic Dumbledore’s Army, then I’m telling you: your faith will get battered, it will wither, and it will be drained of energy.

The battle over the coming years will just be too fierce. You’ll be weak without it. So you need to join a Catholic Dumbledore’s Army.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking: “Hey, I already go to Mass and I’m active in my parish, so why do I need a Catholic Dumbledore’s Army?” Right?

Well, here’s the problem: going to Mass or participating in parish activities just isn’t enough—and it won’t be enough for the challenges coming down the road.

After all, most of us already do this. We already attend Mass and we’re active in parish life.

Nevertheless, we still see our children, family, and friends drifting away from the Church in record numbers. Nevertheless, when our faith is questioned, we still feel unprepared to talk about tough issues. We still get tongue-tied precisely because our parishes haven’t taught us these skills.

So to put it simply: going to Mass, or participating in your parish, is good and necessary, but it just isn’t enough.

This objection is kind of like Harry Potter’s friends saying, “Well, I go to class and I’ve read a few textbooks, so I’m pretty much good to go—I’m ready to face Voldemort!” Well, no way. That’s just not enough. If you want to actually succeed in battle, you need to master real, practical skills, not just learn the bare minimum.

So that’s why it’s time for a Catholic Dumbledore’s Army, a community where you can learn the practical skills you need to become a confident Catholic, ready to discuss any topic, with friends, family, and coworkers.

It’s the only way your faith will flourish against the challenges you’ll face from the culture over the coming years.

But where do you find something like this, a Catholic Dumbledore’s Army, and how do we join? I’m going to share that later in the series, but in the next video, Video #3, I’m going to share how reading Harry Potter alongside St. Thomas Aquinas led to a another big epiphany.

This is key to the whole Catholic Dumbledore’s Army idea, so you don’t want to miss it. That video will go live in a couple days.

But before we go today, I want you to do something: I want you to leave a comment right below this video and tell me this: Who do you know who has left the Catholic Church, and why do you think they left?

Tell me, do you have children who drifted away? Parents? Relatives? Friends? Do you have co-workers who were raised in the Church, but no longer identify as Catholic? Tell us in the comments, and also tell us why you think they left, just your best guess.

I’m going to read every single comment here, and I’ll respond to as many as I can.

Also, do me a favor: after you leave your comment, please share this link on Facebook, Twitter, or even by emailing this URL to your friends. Just click one of the share buttons or copy-and-paste the URL up top.

Send this video to fellow parishioners and parents—and send it your priest! We’re building a movement here and I want to draw in as many Catholics as possible.

Finally, this is super important: after you leave your comment, and share this page, just click the big button on this page that says, “Send me Video #3” and pop in your name and email.

That way, I’ll email you as soon as Video #3 is live in a couple days. It will save you the worry of having to check back repeatedly for the next video.

So those are your three tasks for right now. They’ll take less than 30 seconds. First, leave a comment; second, share this video; and third, click the big button that says “Send Me Video #3” and pop in your email address. That’s it!

Again, thanks so much for watching this video, and I’ll see you in a couple days in the next video, Video #3!

  • Laura Decena

    My best friend for over 30 years has long left the church. At first I thought it was because she became friends with many gay men and began to really champion their cause, but one day she said something to me which I will never forget. She said “God has never done anything for me, what was the church ever done for me?” That was heartbreaking to me, I think in that moment I saw the depth of her dispair. I wish I had the words to show her how Jesus Christ is the only person who can help her, but I haven’t figured them out. We keep in touch despite living far apart and I certainly pray for her always.

  • A. Nonymous

    All three of my sisters have left the Church. One of them due to apathy. One of them (I suspect) due to the fact that she just felt it wasn’t relevant. The third because she didn’t feel she was being fed spiritually and felt that she had been in my parents’ shadow too much within the Church (again, just a suspicion).

    What I can tell you is that, while my parents have a deep faith, they were not good at passing that faith on to us, at catechizing us. They both went to Catholic school, where that was done, and I think they didn’t realize that Sunday-morning religion class just wasn’t the same. I took ownership of my faith for myself after a Parish retreat, and this is a mistake that we didn’t repeat with our own children.

  • Dan

    Sadly, I do know people who have left the Church — or, if nothing else, they’ve at least left off anything approximating active membership. This is particularly the case with young adults. I believe this is in large part because when you go to Mass, it seems inauthentic. The Mass is where Christ is truly present, but you wouldn’t know it from the way people behave there. If we are losing a lot of young people, we shouldn’t be surprised, because most of the older/adult Mass attendees simply do not seem to be taking it seriously. I’ve been to other Christian churches where there is a very real and vibrant atmosphere of faith. The fact that we who have the fullness of the Faith are so lacking in reverence and in attention to religious matters bothers me intensely. To be more succinct, I would say that there is a substantial element within the American Catholic culture that remains unconverted, and is therefore powerless to protect the young against the pull of the world.

    • Laura Decena

      Wow, Dan, what an interesting perspective. I have never thought about children watching other adults in the pews. But you are so right! I love mass and to be honest, I love going by myself on the rare occasion because I can just focus on Jesus. It seems so much more intimate when I am not chasing toddlers, but 99% of the time my four kids are with me and I bet they spend A LOT more time observing other people in the pew than the priest. I am really going to have to think about this one :o) I know my oldest daughter (age 9) gets very annoyed with the behavior of her younger brothers so we have already stressed to her that mass is about worshiping God and encourage her to sit in front of us if the boys are distracting her so she can really focus on the mass, but your thoughts are more broad and good food for thought!

  • bonniemelielo

    64 yr. old husband left the church in his teens. He says he never did believe in the “miracle of the Eucharist”. He has a wonderful relationship with God but is very private. He sees no relevance to being a practicing Catholic in his life.

  • dieisenberg

    READ ANOTHER FUCKING BOOK

  • Robyn Morgan

    This is in response to your question on video 2. Many people I know who are in their 40s and 50s left because when they were children they were taught the rituals and “rules” of the faith but never learned why we do these things as Catholics. Now that they are adults, they don’t see how the Catholic faith can positively affect their life, and can only see the rituals and rules as a hindrance to their happiness.

© 2019 Brandon Vogt

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