Seminary is Hogwarts

“And what are Slytherin and Hufflepuff?” // “School Houses. There’s four. Everyone says Hufflepuff are a lot o’ duffers, but —” “I bet I’m in Hufflepuff,” said Harry gloomily. “Better Hufflepuff than Slytherin,” said Hagrid darkly.

Rowling, J.K. (2012-03-27). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Book 1) (p. 80). Pottermore Limited. Kindle Edition.

When I first went to seminary, I had friends and acquaintances who pondered whether seminary was more like Star Fleet Academy or Hogwarts (many seminarians are nerdy, you see). I belong in the Hogwarts camp, and 2 years post-graduation, I still see parallels between going to seminary and going to Hogwarts.

Hogwarts students get sorted into school houses when they arrive as first-year students, and the Pottermore site (http://www.pottermore.com) recently re-added the “official” Hogwarts house sorting quiz after a long hiatus. While on a business trip, I re-visited the sorting hat quiz.

So, let’s get this over with. My name is Dave, and I’m a Hufflepuff [Hi, Dave!]. As the quote says, Hufflepuffs are the Hogwarts school house that has a reputation of not being the brightest or the bravest or the most driven to succeed. Hufflepuff qualities tend toward egalitarian concerns, hard work, and … gardening. There are fewer major or important supporting characters from Hufflepuff than any other house. Can you name the ones that really matter? Cedric. Tonks. Professor Sprout. That’s it.

The Pottermore site stores your house sorting result, and you may not re-take the quiz. At least I wasn’t Slytherin.

I wanted to be Ravenclaw, the house of brainy folks. I’m a pretty sharp guy, and my MBTI personality type (INTJ) is highly focused on logical thought. I’m an Engineer who does data analysis and “forensic” investigations of materials that fail in real life, a computer nerd who dives under the hood in Linux, and holder of multiple science-y and artsy degrees. School was my hobby. I love to learn.

Truth be told, the sorting hat quiz, before the results were made once-and-done in the recent Pottermore site change, sorted me as Ravenclaw when I applied to seminary in 2007. I could have re-claimed my old results, but I wanted to see what the results would be now.

Why? Seminary changes a person. And not in a you-will-now-think-like-me or these-are-not-the-droids-you-are-looking-for way. Seminary plants one into an environment within which one may (and hopefully will) examine one’s fundamental engagement of one’s faith, sacred texts, the human condition, and the concept of living as a community in covenant with a loving God … however you approach and try to define who/what God is.

I wanted to go in and come out of seminary as a Ravenclaw. Ravenclaws value intelligence. When I entered seminary, I was pretty oriented toward the academic experience of seminary. I loved my Biblical Studies classes. I miss, now that I am serving as a youth director, times when I was in a group of folks doing literary criticism and analysis of sacred texts (youth don’t usually appreciate lit crit — “when are we going to play a game, Dave?”). I was not looking forward to the eventual time I would have to take soft skills classes like Pastoral Care.

When the time came, I did well in Pastoral Care. On occasions when I am in a pseudo-Pastoral care mode, I am both decent at it and find it a holy and deeply important time.

The core of the change that I experienced was this: Christianity is, to me, now more about relationships than rules — now more about faith within community than the sacred texts. For a Ravenclaw, this would be blasphemy. For a Hufflepuff, this would be business-as-usual. As one of the sorting questions asks, if a troll was about to destroy everything in a room and there were a cure for a disease, an important book of runes, or student records, in what order do you save them? Before seminary, the book would be most important. After seminary, it is the cure for disease.

Jesus, when asked about the most important commandment in the law, answered, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands” (Mt 22:37-40 CEB).

Love. Not, intelligence. Not bravery. Not drive. Not that these things aren’t important and can’t produce important things for ministry, but everything has to be under the umbrella of love.

Hufflepuff, according to Pottermore, espouses equality, fair play, hard work, and an openness to all that does not exist in the other houses.

My name is Dave, and I am a Hufflepuff. Somehow, I think Jesus would approve. He might even get a similar result on the sorting hat quiz. But that could just be me wishing.

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