In our continued quest to make meaning of suffering, this week, Vanessa and Casper tackle the theme of isolation in Chapter 18, Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. Despite its brief length (just seven pages in my edition) it’s a chapter that packs a wallop. Full of big reveals about the Marauders, The Shrieking Shack, and Snape — it’s basically The Whomping Willow of chapters.
Get it, because The Whomping Willow also packs a wallop? Fine, okay, the joke wasn't a big hit. (Get it? Because the whomping willow hits people? I'll just stop.)
At the beginning of this episode, Casper asks whether we can find hope in isolation. He draws upon popular figures like Nelson Mandela and Eli Wiesel, who were able to turn their own nightmarish situations into social change and empathy. But Vanessa cautions us against always trying to find the "good" in suffering. She reminds him (and us) that there are many people who never make it out of the darkness:
Of course, it turns out you can either be wise or be good at the 30 second recap. This week, Vanessa was only one.
Well, we can't all be Hermione Granger (no matter how much we want to be *cough*).
There was a lot to discuss in the theme conversation: Sirius' false imprisonment, Lupin's werewolf-ness as a metaphor for disease, and Peter Pettigrew's life as Scabbers.
This is our first time diving into Peter Pettigrew, the villain of Prisoner of Azkaban. (Though we're open to the argument that the real villain of this book is Snape.) Was Peter lonely as Scabbers? Does he have any options now to redeem himself, or has he condemned himself for the rest of his life? In our video trailer for Sorcerer's Stone we asked the question "Can You Forgive Petunia Dursley?" This episode, we came up with a parallel question: "Can you Pity Peter Pettigrew?"
Resources and Recommendations — There are a lot this week!
- Casper's opening story this week was about Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who was detained for fourteen years in Guantanemo Bay without ever being charged. We highly recommend his book, Guantanamo Diary.
- Also in his story, Casper made a passing reference to Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Before divinity school, I had no idea who Bonhoeffer was. It turns out he was a pretty rad dude! (And by 'rad dude' I mean a man of radical integrity.) For those who are unfamiliar: Bonhoeffer was a German theologian who tried (and failed) to assassinate Adolf Hitler. His Letters and Papers from Prisoner, written before his execution and published posthumously are a modern classic.
- In talking about Lupin's isolation, Casper cites a study that says that loneliness is a higher cause of mortality than obesity. You can read more about that in this Boston Globe article.
- During our sacred practice, Vanessa and Casper discuss the invisible beauty of the world around us. Specifically, they marvel at the stories behind city plans and architecture. If you're into that kind of thing, you might be interested in the podcast 99% Invisible.
- Here's an article about those cool nuns who are building a chapel to block the path of a gas pipeline.
- Finally, Vanessa's favorite scene from Men and Black II.
This week's Florilegium: It was planted because I had come to Hogwarts Even I don't understand
You can listen to the episode to hear what Vanessa and Casper interpreted between these quotes, but what do you see?
Remember early when I said that our question of the episode was "Can You Pity Peter Pettigrew?" I lied. The real question of the episode was "What would Dumbledore's drag name be?" The best answer so far was from @noahds17 who said "Lemon Drop." Think you can do better? Tweet us your answers (and keep it clean folks)!
This week's voicemail was thanks to Keeley Harris. Next week we're reading chapter nineteen, The Servant of Lord Voldemort, through the theme of Mercy. Have a good week, ya'll!