Like most of you, I grew up devouring Harry Potter, but I’m not sure how many of you had problems understanding just how the big prophecy worked. I know I did. Basically, Voldemort’s stooge overhears a seer prophesy that a true adversary to Voldemort will rise, and that “neither can live while the other survives”. Much ink is spilled, both in fandom and in the canon, over just what this prophecy means. Does it mean that Harry is fated to kill Voldemort (or Voldemort, Harry) or does Harry’s free will operate outside the confines of this prophecy? If the prophecy is true, it means Harry really is the Chosen One, chosen by fate to confront Voldemort. But that could mean that Harry doesn’t really have a choice in the matter. In the final book, Harry doesn’t seem like he does have a choice; the universe seems like it’s manipulated him to the point where he feels utterly compelled to fulfill the prophecy. The conflict is between fate, or providence, and free will. If we look at real-world ideas about providence and free will, we can get a better idea of how these might work.
For me, Sunday newspaper comic strips began with Calvin and Hobbes. While I hold a special fondness for Charlie Brown and crew, the story of the lovable yet distracted six-year-old Calvin grabbed me at a young age.
Even at four, I noticed a certain advanced intelligence that was not in some of the other Sunday comics my grandmother would save for me. Now, on the evening of her funeral, I am compelled to focus on the character that she once said I reminded her so much of. I hope I can do the topic justice.