Pub Theology Charleston Gathering — Monday November 13, 2017, 6:30 P.M.

GPSWelcome to Pub Theology Charleston! We will be gathering at the Kickin’ Chicken (1175 Folly Road, James Is.) on Monday November 13, 2017 at 6:30 pm. Come out for food, drink and conversation about things that matter.

For each of our gatherings, we’ll have a Topic Format (printed–everyone gets a copy at the beginning of the evening). The Topic Format will provide the Trending Topic for the evening, Background for the topic, and several guide questions to serve as Discussion Starters.

The Topic Format for Monday November 13 will look something like this:

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Pub Theology Charleston — November 13, 2017

Trending Topic: GPS Weekly Guide Review

Pub Theology Charleston Gathering — Monday November 6, 2017, 6:30 P.M.

Love WinsWelcome to Pub Theology Charleston! We will be gathering at the Kickin’ Chicken (1175 Folly Road, James Is.) on Monday November 6, 2017 at 6:30 pm. Come out for food, drink and conversation about things that matter.

For each of our gatherings, we’ll have a Topic Format (printed–everyone gets a copy at the beginning of the evening). The Topic Format will provide the Trending Topic for the evening, Background for the topic, and several guide questions to serve as Discussion Starters.

The Topic Format for Monday November 6 will look something like this:

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Pub Theology Charleston — November 6, 2017

HARRY POTTER THEOLOGY

Trending Topic: Theology of the Eschaton, Part 2

The plot of eschatology is a crescendo of evil in the last days, culminating in a war between those who do not want God’s kingdom of love and those faithful who do. God’s way prevails and a new world order, God’s kingdom of love and peace is inaugurated.

Background:

  • Three great themes permeate apocalyptic literature:
    • God liberates the oppressed and the oppressors will be punished.
    • God’s love and power endures, no matter what, and good will triumph over evil.
    • A call for loyalty is issued, so that the people under oppression will bond together, forming a community that will not dissolve under stress.
  • The attitude of apocalyptic literature is pessimistic optimism. That is, things will likely get worse before they get better.

Discussion Starters:

  1. Do you find it striking how love and the power of love are woven like a golden thread throughout every book in the Harry Potter series?
  2. Consider how various characters, especially Harry, even in their darkest hours were learning the lessons of love. Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, etc.
  3. Was Harry’s seven-year journey mostly about learning to love well, mastering what it means to love his neighbor and himself, so that he could offer himself as a sacrifice to transform others?
  4. Is it clear that love was always with Harry and his friends, even in their darkest moments, and that love’s power can never be vanquished? that love, though beaten down, will ultimately triumph?
  5. Do we hear a clarion call for loyalty throughout the Harry Potter story?
  6. Why did organizations like the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore’s Army come to be? Band together and fight for shared values? What were the expectations of loyalty within them?
  7. Voldemort, too, exacted loyalty from his followers, so characters had to make a choice. Would they choose the principles of supremacy and exclusion? or would they choose the ideals of love and inclusion?
  8. In both Harry Potter and the Bible, the reign of peace can only be accomplished through the power of love. In Harry Potter, it comes about when humans work together for the sake of love and inclusion. Can the same be said of Christianity?
  9. While God could wave a magic wand and make everything better in an instant, is God waiting for us to help, committing to believe in love, and work on its behalf, and only then can love work to bring about a more peaceful, inclusive global community?
  10. Is that (Question 9) the real message of the Bible as well as the Harry Potter saga?

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Those are just a few of the kinds of questions we might like to consider. We’ll probably come up with a lot more questions before the evening is over. Come join the conversation. It may well be your insights that the rest of us sorely need to hear.

Pub Theology Charleston Gathering — Monday October 30, 2017, 6:30 P.M.

End TimesWelcome to Pub Theology Charleston! We will be gathering at the Kickin’ Chicken (1175 Folly Road, James Is.) on Monday October 30, 2017 at 6:30 pm. Come out for food, drink and conversation about things that matter.

For each of our gatherings, we’ll have a Topic Format (printed–everyone gets a copy at the beginning of the evening). The Topic Format will provide the Trending Topic for the evening, Background for the topic, and several guide questions to serve as Discussion Starters.

The Topic Format for Monday October 30 will look something like this:

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Pub Theology Charleston — October 30, 2017

HARRY POTTER THEOLOGY

Trending Topic: Theology of the Eschaton, Part 1

The plot of eschatology is a crescendo of evil in the last days, culminating in a war between those who do not want God’s kingdom of love and those faithful who do. God’s way prevails and a new world order, God’s kingdom of love and peace is inaugurated.

Background:

  • Three great themes permeate apocalyptic literature:
    • God liberates the oppressed and the oppressors will be punished.
    • God’s love and power endures, no matter what, and good will triumph over evil.
    • A call for loyalty is issued, so that the people under oppression will bond together, forming a community that will not dissolve under stress.
  • The attitude of apocalyptic literature is pessimistic optimism. That is, things will likely get worse before they get better.

Discussion Starters:

  1. How is the Harry Potter saga a story of oppression? Consider the original sin of prideful supremacism chosen by Salazar Slytherin and his followers, and how Voldemort’s rise to power within that cesspool affected the various characters.
  2. How do Mudbloods, Squibs, and Muggles fare in the face of Pure-blood supremacy?
  3. What happens to the Ministry of Magic under Pure-blood dominance?
  4. How many people end up in St. Mungo’s due to being Imperiused?
  5. Does the Dark Mark imprinted on Voldemort’s followers and illuminating the sky above the places where Voldemort kills suggest a parallel to the Mark of the Beast in Revelation?
  6. Serpents signify evil from the opening pages of Genesis through the Revelation. Is it coincidental that the house of Salazar Slytherin is symbolized by a snake, or that Voldemort keeps a snake at his side, and a basilisk lives in the Chamber of Secrets? Does Slytherin’s name itself connote slithering?
  7. How closely does the Harry Potter saga follow the apocalyptic story line of the faithful persecuted, and through a war they defeat those who work against God’s will, and an era of peace begins?
  8. At the end, does peace come to the various characters in more ways than one? That is, not just the end of physical or psychological violence from without?
  9. Consider Harry’s change in attitude toward the various Hogwart’s Houses. Does he come to see that all of the houses hold potential for great virtue, depending on the choices made by their members?
  10. Does the name of Harry’s son, Albus Severus, symbolize the peace Harry finds within himself concerning his two most dedicated advocates, both of whom he had at times in the past mistrusted?
  11. Characters other than Harry also seem to resolve inner conflicts they had experienced. How about Ron and Hermione? And what becomes of Neville?
  12. And, there is punishment. Draco may have had his physical life spared, but as we see him at the end on Platform 9 3/4, is he able to share in the joy of loving community? Does he enjoy inner peace?

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Those are just a few of the kinds of questions we might like to consider. We’ll probably come up with a lot more questions before the evening is over. Come join the conversation. It may well be your insights that the rest of us sorely need to hear.

Pub Theology Charleston Gathering — Monday October 23, 2017, 6:30 P.M.

Luna LovegoodWelcome to Pub Theology Charleston! We will be gathering at the Kickin’ Chicken (1175 Folly Road, James Is.) on Monday October 23, 2017 at 6:30 pm. Come out for food, drink and conversation about things that matter.

For each of our gatherings, we’ll have a Topic Format (printed–everyone gets a copy at the beginning of the evening). The Topic Format will provide the Trending Topic for the evening, Background for the topic, and several guide questions to serve as Discussion Starters.

The Topic Format for Monday October 23 will look something like this:

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Pub Theology Charleston — October 23, 2017

HARRY POTTER THEOLOGY

Trending Topic: Theology of Faith and Belief

In Christianity, faith and belief apply to many things, chief of which are the presence of God and love. Although we can perceive neither God nor love with our five senses, and thus have no evidence or proof of presence, we believe that both God and love are active in our lives.

Background:

  • Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).
  • The dictionary defines faith as confidence or trust in a person or thing, or belief that is not based on proof or evidence.
  • In the Harry Potter series, we see various characters giving and receiving love and passing it on. By doing so, they come to believe that love is worthy of their faith and belief.

Discussion Starters:

  1. Neville Longbottom exemplifies unwavering faith in Dumbledore’s ideals of love, tolerance, and inclusiveness. Consider how Neville holds fast to these values, even when they seem to be obliterated at the Battle of Hogwarts.
  2. How does Neville respond when Voldemort offers him a place as a Death Eater? Hint: “I’ll join you when hell freezes over.” What do we make of his reference to hell?
  3. Luna Lovegood also shows much faith without needing tangible evidence. When Harry is grieving the death of Sirius, what does Luna say to him about seeing her deceased mother again? (Think of voices behind the veil).
  4. When Luna loses some of her belongings, Harry offers to help her find her stuff. How does she respond?
  5. Who are the last two of Dumbledore’s Army to keep using the DA coins, when others have long forgotten them? What does that say about their faith in the values that Harry stands for?
  6. Harry experiences a crisis of faith when Dumbledore is suddenly killed. Harry had faith in Dumbledore’s values of love and inclusion, when Dumbledore was there to solve most problems and had Harry’s back. Then Dumbledore was gone, and Rita Skeeter’s book came out, throwing everything Harry believed into question. How does Harry go on trusting the values of Dumbledore, even without evidence?
  7. Why does Draco seem incapable of having faith in the power of love and tolerance, as when Dumbledore offers Draco his love and protection on top of the astronomy tower?
  8. How does the experience of giving and receiving love help the members of Dumbledore’s Army have faith in the power of love, despite the fact that loving and living inclusively can be painful at times?
  9. Why do some people seem able to have faith in love, tolerance, and inclusion, while others seem incapable? Could this be one of the most disturbing questions Christians struggle with still today?

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Those are just a few of the kinds of questions we might like to consider. We’ll probably come up with a lot more questions before the evening is over. Come join the conversation. It may well be your insights that the rest of us sorely need to hear.

Pub Theology Charleston Gathering — Monday October 9, 2017, 6:30 P.M.

GraceWelcome to Pub Theology Charleston! We will be gathering at the Kickin’ Chicken (1175 Folly Road, James Is.) on Monday October 9, 2017 at 6:30 pm. Come out for food, drink and conversation about things that matter.

For each of our gatherings, we’ll have a Topic Format (printed–everyone gets a copy at the beginning of the evening). The Topic Format will provide the Trending Topic for the evening, Background for the topic, and several guide questions to serve as Discussion Starters.

The Topic Format for Monday October 9 will look something like this:

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Pub Theology Charleston — October 9, 2017

HARRY POTTER THEOLOGY

Trending Topic: Theology of Grace

Christians believe the defining moment for the work of salvation begins at Jesus’ crucifixion and culminates with the resurrection. Ascending from the dead, Jesus has defeated sin and conquered evil. These forces no longer have the same power over humans, because Jesus has shown that we can be transformed with new life. Because humans are incapable of experiencing this new life under their own power, we acknowledge that it is the gift of God, namely, Grace.

Background:

  • One of the most enduring debates about the theology of grace concerns Predeterminism vs. Arminianism, over why some seem to experience saving, transforming grace while others do not.
  • Predeterminists hold that God alone acts in the gift of grace, and God predestines some to receive.
  • Arminians contend that God offers grace to everyone, and while anyone may receive God’s grace by free will, God does not force anyone to accept.

Discussion Starters:

  1. Draco is saved from the fire in the Room of Requirement during the Battle at Hogwarts. Does he receive grace, so that he is transformed with new life? Or does he only receive mercy, sparing him from a well-deserved fate?
  2. Consider Draco on the train platform at the end. Has he embraced the new life of love and inclusiveness? Or is he sad because he still holds onto his old, prejudiced worldview, but can no longer impose it on others, or even express it, because in the new era it is no longer socially acceptable?
  3. Do some of the characters, such as Harry and Neville, seem to grow gradually into the disposition of grace, due to the active guidance of love over time?
  4. Does Ron experience a more immediate encounter with grace after abandoning Hermione and Harry? He may have wanted to return to them anyway, but does it seem that he needed the experience with the Deluminator’s light passing through his heart, to help him make his turn-around? In Deathly Hallows, pointing to his heart, he says, “I could feel it, it was hot. Once it was inside me I knew what I was supposed to do.”
  5. Did Dumbledore transform from someone who values supremacy to someone who believes in inclusiveness, because Ariana’s death gave him the chance to change his orientation? Why did Dumbledore choose to receive grace?
  6. When did Kreacher become accepting of Harry, Ron, and Hermione and their mission? Was it when Harry offered him Sirius’ necklace, and Kreacher received it? Was Harry offering grace?
  7. Bellatrix does not receive grace. Did she want to be transformed with new, inclusive, loving life?
  8. Even Voldemort is given the choice to change, showing that grace in the wizarding world is extended even to the greatest sinner. Did Voldemort welcome the opportunity to change?
  9. Does grace in Harry Potter’s world resemble the Predeterminist view of grace, or the Arminian?
  10. Which view of grace makes more sense with how you experience God’s grace?

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Those are just a few of the kinds of questions we might like to consider. We’ll probably come up with a lot more questions before the evening is over. Come join the conversation. It may well be your insights that the rest of us sorely need to hear.

Pub Theology Charleston Gathering — Monday October 2, 2017, 6:30 P.M.

Revelation via ProphecyWelcome to Pub Theology Charleston! We will be gathering at the Kickin’ Chicken (1175 Folly Road, James Is.) on Monday October 2, 2017 at 6:30 pm. Come out for food, drink and conversation about things that matter.

For each of our gatherings, we’ll have a Topic Format (printed–everyone gets a copy at the beginning of the evening). The Topic Format will provide the Trending Topic for the evening, Background for the topic, and several guide questions to serve as Discussion Starters.

The Topic Format for Monday October 2 will look something like this:

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Pub Theology Charleston — October 2, 2017

HARRY POTTER THEOLOGY

Trending Topic: Theology of Revelation, Part 2

Most Christians view prophetic revelations as either forthtelling or foretelling or both. Very often the difference between the two is wrapped in mystery, perhaps known only by God. The big question concerning the main prophecy of the Harry Potter saga is whether it is forthtelling or foretelling, or is the difference here, also, wrapped in mystery?

Background:

  • At the Hog’s Head Pub, in 1980, during an interview with Dumbledore for the Divination teacher position, Sybill Trelawney foretold the coming of a boy who would have the ability to defeat Voldemort (but not necessarily that he would).
  • The boy was born late July 1980, the year of the prophecy.
  • His parents defied Voldemort 3 times and lived to tell about it.
  • He would have a power Voldemort was unable or unwilling to comprehend.
  • If more than one person met those requirements, Voldemort would choose.
  • Either the boy or Voldemort must die.
  • Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom, both, met the requirements of Sybill’s prophecy.

Discussion Starters:

  1. In Divination class, how reliable were Sybill’s prophecies? What was her reputation as a prophet?
  2. How did Snape find out about the prophecy? Did he hear the whole thing? Who was Snape in service to at the time?
  3. What did Snape report to Voldemort? How did Voldemort respond? When he tried to kill Harry did he think he would fulfill the prophecy?
  4. Why did Voldemort choose Harry instead of Neville? (Harry = half-blood, Neville = pure-blood)
  5. When Voldemort failed to kill Harry, what did he become passionate about finding?
  6. How and why did Snape come to ally himself with Dumbledore as a double agent?
  7. What was Harry’s power that Voldemort was unable or unwilling to comprehend?
  8. What was at stake in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries? What became of the prophecy record?
  9. Who were the only two people who knew the entire prophecy? How did the prophecy guide Harry’s quest?
  10. Was the prophecy predictive because it was truthful in and of itself? or because Voldemort decided it was truthful and worked for its fulfillment?
  11. Was Harry’s part in the prophecy predetermined, or was it because Voldemort chose him?
  12. Was the prophecy self-fulfilled by human choices? or was something larger, more mysterious at work?

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Those are just a few of the kinds of questions we might like to consider. We’ll probably come up with a lot more questions before the evening is over. Come join the conversation. It may well be your insights that the rest of us sorely need to hear.

Pub Theology Charleston Gathering — Monday September 25, 2017, 6:30 P.M.

harry potter theologyWelcome to Pub Theology Charleston! We will be gathering at the Kickin’ Chicken (1175 Folly Road, James Is.) on Monday September 25, 2017 at 6:30 pm. Come out for food, drink and conversation about things that matter.

For each of our gatherings, we’ll have a Topic Format (printed–everyone gets a copy at the beginning of the evening). The Topic Format will provide the Trending Topic for the evening, Background for the topic, and several guide questions to serve as Discussion Starters.

The Topic Format for Monday September 25 will look something like this:

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Pub Theology Charleston — September 25, 2017

HARRY POTTER THEOLOGY

Trending Topic: Theology of Revelation, Part 1

In matters of faith, as with all matters of life, we must distinguish between truth and falsehood, and more often than not, struggle with gray areas. That is the winnowing floor of revelation, separating wheat from chaff. Characters in the Harry Potter series also struggle to separate truth from falsehood. The Wesleyan Quadrilateral is one of the most reliable methods for testing Christian truth, so we will look at the struggle for truth in Harry Potter’s world through that lens.

Background:

  • Introduction to the Theology of Revelation
  • Scripture — There is no equivalent to the Bible in the wizarding world, but the characters must still discern the truth about a variety of texts, to determine what is trustworthy.
  • Tradition — Traditions exist in the wizarding world; some work for the good, but they can also be used to work evil.
  • Reason — Reason is indispensable for separating truth from falsehood. God gives us minds to use. It’s up to us to use them wisely.
  • Experience — Experiences often help us determine what to trust, but can also be misleading.

Discussion Starters:

  1. Consider Harry’s use of Advanced Potion Making, Snape’s book from the Half-Blood Prince. How does Harry come to trust it initially? How does Hermione advise Harry about trusting it? What happens when he casts the Sectumsempra curse on Draco?
  2. Desiring a confidante in her first Hogwart’s year, Ginny Weasley places her trust in a mysterious diary. Who does the diary actually belong to? What happened to Ginny as a result of her trust?
  3. Rita Skeeter published a biography of Dumbledore, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, reporting the worst of his past in the worst possible light. What effect does this book have on Harry, Ron, and Hermione initially? If they had not regained their trust in Dumbledore, what might have become of the mission he had left them?
  4. What are some of the beneficial traditions at Hogwarts? Seasonal holidays? The feast on the first day of the new school year? What effect did these traditions have upon the school community?
  5. How did Delores Umbridge use traditions? For good or ill? What does that tell us about traditions and how they are used?
  6. How did Hermione use her exceptional intelligence? Eg., figuring out how to free Buckbeak, or translating The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Did she always use her reasoning for the good?
  7. Voldemort was also very intelligent, yet he used his reasoning power destructively. Does that mean reasoning only reveals truth and goodness when it is used wisely?
  8. Harry and Draco both had experiences with Dumbledore and his ideals of love and diversity. How did Harry experience Dumbledore? Why were Draco’s experiences of Dumbledore so different?
  9. How did Harry’s experiences with Dumbledore help him get beyond his crisis of faith when Rita Skeeter’s Dumbledore biography came out? Wasn’t Harry’s own life evidence that Dumbledore fought for values of love and inclusiveness, even though the book said otherwise?
  10. How is it that some of the characters (eg., Dumbledore’s Army) trust in the beauty and power of love and inclusiveness, while others seem incapable?

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Those are just a few of the kinds of questions we might like to consider. We’ll probably come up with a lot more questions before the evening is over. Come join the conversation. It may well be your insights that the rest of us sorely need to hear.

Fall 2017 Pub Theology Kickoff Party

Fall KickoffGet ready for our Pub Theology Fall Kickoff Party this coming Sunday at 1pm!

Karen Nappo is hosting our Kickoff Party at her house on Sunday September 3, 2017 at 1:00 pm. Get this on your calendar. The menu includes BBQ ribs, shrimp, sausage, potato salad, corn on the cob, baked beans, desserts, etc. (think in terms of great picnic foods). No agenda/topic this time–let’s just have some fun together before we get down to some holy conversations, once more, beginning Monday evening September 11, 2017 at 6:30pm at Kickin’ Chicken on Folly Road.

Pub Theology Charleston Gathering — Monday June 26, 2017, 6:30 P.M.

RevelationWelcome to Pub Theology Charleston! We will be gathering at the Kickin’ Chicken (1175 Folly Road, James Is.) on Monday June 26, 2017 at 6:30 pm. Come out for food, drink and conversation about things that matter.

For each of our gatherings, we’ll have a Topic Format (printed–everyone gets a copy at the beginning of the evening). The Topic Format will provide the Trending Topic for the evening, Background for the topic, and several guide questions to serve as Discussion Starters.

The Topic Format for Monday June 26 will look something like this:

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Pub Theology Charleston — June 26, 2017

HARRY POTTER THEOLOGY

Trending Topic: Theology of Revelation, Part 1

In matters of faith, as with all matters of life, we must distinguish between truth and falsehood, and more often than not, struggle with gray areas. That is the winnowing floor of revelation, separating wheat from chaff. Characters in the Harry Potter series also struggle to separate truth from falsehood. The Wesleyan Quadrilateral is one of the most reliable methods for testing Christian truth, so we will look at the struggle for truth in Harry Potter’s world through that lens.

Background:

  • Introduction to the Theology of Revelation
  • Scripture — There is no equivalent to the Bible in the wizarding world, but the characters must still discern the truth about a variety of texts, to determine what is trustworthy.
  • Tradition — Traditions exist in the wizarding world; some work for the good, but they can also be used to work evil.
  • Reason — Reason is indispensable for separating truth from falsehood. God gives us minds to use. It’s up to us to use them wisely.
  • Experience — Experiences often help us determine what to trust, but can also be misleading.

Discussion Starters:

  1. Consider Harry’s use of Advanced Potion Making, Snape’s book from the Half-Blood Prince. How does Harry come to trust it initially? How does Hermione advise Harry about trusting it? What happens when he casts the Sectumsempra curse on Draco?
  2. Desiring a confidante in her first Hogwart’s year, Ginny Weasley places her trust in a mysterious diary. Who does the diary actually belong to? What happened to Ginny as a result of her trust?
  3. Rita Skeeter published a biography of Dumbledore, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, reporting the worst of his past in the worst possible light. What effect does this book have on Harry, Ron, and Hermione initially? If they had not regained their trust in Dumbledore, what might have become of the mission he had left them?
  4. What are some of the beneficial traditions at Hogwarts? Seasonal holidays? The feast on the first day of the new school year? What effect did these traditions have upon the school community?
  5. How did Delores Umbridge use traditions? For good or ill? What does that tell us about traditions and how they are used?
  6. How did Hermione use her exceptional intelligence? Eg., figuring out how to free Buckbeak, or translating The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Did she always use her reasoning for the good?
  7. Voldemort was also very intelligent, yet he used his reasoning power destructively. Does that mean reasoning only reveals truth and goodness when it is used wisely?
  8. Harry and Draco both had experiences with Dumbledore and his ideals of love and diversity. How did Harry experience Dumbledore? Why were Draco’s experiences of Dumbledore so different?
  9. How did Harry’s experiences with Dumbledore help him get beyond his crisis of faith when Rita Skeeter’s Dumbledore biography came out? Wasn’t Harry’s own life evidence that Dumbledore fought for values of love and inclusiveness, even though the book said otherwise?
  10. How is it that some of the characters (eg., Dumbledore’s Army) trust in the beauty and power of love and inclusiveness, while others seem incapable?

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Those are just a few of the kinds of questions we might like to consider. We’ll probably come up with a lot more questions before the evening is over. Come join the conversation. It may well be your insights that the rest of us sorely need to hear.