Corruption: Padfoot Returns (Book 4, Chapter 27)

Can corruption be a good thing? Are there parts of us that respect—or even desire—corruption? When do we normalize corruption and when do we condemn it? Vanessa and Casper address these questions in this week’s episode. 

As a historical figure,  Samuel Pepys is a point of contention for historians, Casper explains. The former member of Parliament was known both for his patronage and his acceptance of favors from colleagues and friends. So, it’s difficult to construct a succinct label to describe him. Was he a patron? Was he corrupt?

Vanessa raises the point that Harry himself is corrupt; he is willing to steal, and in this chapter, he gaslights Snape. We deeply respect Harry for traits like this that shape his character. Percy, on the other hand, is a hugely dislikable character, Vanessa points out. We tend not to respect this character that operates within the rules. “Isn’t corruption a way to demonstrate some kind of humanity?” she asks.

The hosts ask when we don't want people to operate within set boundaries, when our respect for someone is bolstered by their corruption. The Crouches, for example, visit their son in prison because they have political connections. This corruption clearly demonstrates their humanity. Casper and Vanessa point out that corruption and lying can look like different things. Hermione smiling sarcastically at her Slytherin bullies is both a kind of lying and an expression of strength.

They then engage in Lectio Divina for their spiritual practice of the week and interrogate this quote: “The dungeon rang with Slytherin laughter and an unpleasant smile curled Snape’s thin mouth.” They make allegorical connections to things like the Cheshire Cat and Nagini in Book 7 and address the complexity of laughter: it can be a positive, joyful thing, but also terrifying if you’re unsure if someone is laughing at you.

They finish up the episode with blessings for Pansy Parkinson and Karkaroff.

You can listen to this week's episode here.