The funny thing about the sorting is that (without geeking out too hardcore here) the house you want is the house you get sorted into. Harry doesn't want Slytherin; he gets Gryffindor.
Ravenclaws look good. It's the gilded house with the diadem Horcrux, the house Belle would be in if Disney princesses weren't muggles. Ravenclaws have a sort of elegance and haughtiness that is deserved - not inherited, like Slytherin. They don't embarrass themselves. They excel. Their greatest fear is failure, or looking a fool. Judas Iscariot might have chosen Ravenclaw, not Slytherin. It appeared to me a hard house to get into - like the Ivy League of the magical world. And in choosing it, it chose me.
I chose my college because it was slightly more prestigious (and expensive) than the one in my hometown, and I thought I'd look better in the colors. I'm not making this up! I wanted people to believe I was smart and pretty. So much so that it dulls any chance that I might already be both. Sometimes we milk all the original good we have to a point that they are no longer a strength, but a weakness. Insecurity is born from ingratitude.
In Shakespeare's Henry IV, Falstaff insists, "Discretion is the better part of valor." It is better to pick your battles, or in this case, be smart enough to hide or play dead on the field.
I never considered how choosing to be smart is choosing not to be brave. Reasonable can sometimes be just another word for cowardice - the fear of looking like a fool.
This "Foolism" paranoia runs rampant in an academic community. To be considered uneducated, primitive in thought and guilty of prostelytization was the worst when I was in college. Very few people want to be considered "churchy;" I had a few people tell me they were surprised to find out I was Catholic. That really wasn't a compliment! For those of us who don't have a firm sense of faith or have ever recognized conversion in our life, avoiding looking a Fool is enough to lose your religion completely.
In both college, and in love, I learned the hard way not to worship what seems over what is.
I've been in love once. The relationship was like a tattered flag and from a distance you would never know how ragged and tired we both felt. I stayed because we were going to a wedding and I was working out like crazy to take that picture with him and post it on Instagram (I deleted it, so don't waste your time.) To this day I think of that picture.... and how I sacrificed my heart for an illusion. I stayed because of how things looked, regardless of how they felt.
I wonder if our fascination with Hogwarts houses doesn't have to do something with projecting vs accepting who we are. I gloried in being chosen by the house I wanted people to see. Whether it's fitting in at college or pretending in relationships, we all struggle with duplicity: Who should I be? Who do I want people to see? Who am I, really, and how do I honor that person while still fitting in? What if there isn't anyone out there who's anything like me? I never post my political opinions on Facebook, for example. I know the people who agree with me in the world are a small minority. I don't identify with any party and I long for world peace way too much to instigate social media drama.
Does that make me a coward? Probably. But that's why I'm not in Gryffindor.
I like to choose the ivory tower over the battlefield, philosophy over theology, reason over sacrifice, efficiency over kindness, all the time. Is it better to be smart? Or is it better to be brave? Would your friends put you in Gryffindor? Or would they not know your true colors?
I never considered that reason and religion could go hand in hand. That it is logical for an educated person to believe in God. That God can actually be proven, on the basis of more than just feeling, but on fact and not just faith or deductions.
In the grand scheme of things, however, without a personal relationship with Jesus you might not be able to convince anybody else of God's existence. No matter how smart of a Ravenclaw you are, you have to have a little Gryffindor. You have to admit that God cannot be explained - He must be encountered and experienced. You cannot teach Him into someone's heart.
So what would you choose for yourself? Which is your true house, and which is the one you would be proud of? (And why is there a difference?) Maybe you want to be in Harry Potter's house because you want to be the hero. Maybe you, like my friend Kayleigh, are unabashedly Hufflepuff because you value friendship and loyalty above everything else; you'd go crazy honey badger over anyone who hurt your friend and that is a bravery in itself. Maybe you, like my friend Claire, were surprised to find yourself in Slytherin because you consider yourself selfless, that you may work hard and try to be cunning, but you do it all for other people.
When my good friend Amelia, who knew nothing of Harry Potter, took the sorting quiz she answered honestly, boldly and admitted that she sometimes chose the questions that everyone would think were self-serving. We expected her to be Slytherin. She's smart, always has a plan and is incredibly resourceful. I've never considered her outspoken or someone who demands attention; she's the world's best listener. She's everyone's life coach and a super sleuth, to the core.
She was Gryffindor.
We all have good things about us (as St. Paul reminds us over and over again: 1 Cor 12:12-31; Col 1:18, 2:18-20; Eph. 1:22-23, 3:19, 4:13.) It's in the unity of the houses that Hogwarts is the sought after dream home of millions. God, after all, isn't a Ravenclaw or a Gryffindor - he's as selfless as Cedric Diggory and as vulnerable as Draco Malfoy - he's the best of all four houses put together. Beyond the superficial desire to be sorted, labelled and claimed by a desirable home, is the desire to be so redeemed that our natural talents no longer matter. When we are weak, he is strong. Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. (2 Cor 12:10, Rom 5:20).
Maybe what the Lord looks for is more than just good intentions. Maybe He looks for daring plans. As Dumbledore and Marianne Dashwood (both Gryffindor) remind us, we can't just say or feel something. It's how we behave that matters. We can't hide behind books, our friends, our families or even our ego.
Let's face it. The world needs more Gryffindors with a dash off Ravenclaw, like Hermione, more Divergents than Dauntless or Erudites. We need more authenticity and less duplicity. Who you claim to be in Christ needs to be how you live, pray and treat people daily. We might be able to design the plan for lasting peace but someone has to go in front of the front lines waving the white flag. We all want to talk about how to save the world and how to change it. The brave ones are those who take personal responsibility to overcome the war within themselves and wage it. The only behavior you can control is your own. The temptation is to waste energy trying to make others conform to a standard you don't even uphold for yourself. The brave ones try to connect their inner struggle and make a web with all the other people in pain because guess what? That's all of us.
I may be a timid Ravenclaw typing away on my keyboard. I may often place wit beyond measure as my greatest treasure (despite the warning of Matthew 6:21). But I still feel that drum, that battle cry, like the Lion's roar that typifies a Gryffindor and a hero. I don't want the glory (I think most Gryffindors do.) I don't care about belonging (I think most Hufflepuffs do.) I don't care about getting my way or making sure it's my idea that wins (and I won't attribute this to any house at all in case I get sued.)
All I know is the still, small voice. The clear, calm song. I have to honor Him and he asks me in turn to step up, speak out, stay silent or sit down. He is that grey curtain, that sheer waterfall, He is that combination Truth and Beauty that I must trust. Like a weathervane, I choose Him who never changes, over me... who always does.
And He loves me, just the same.