Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Concerning Magic: Part 1

Idylls of the King - Gustave Dore

Magic, is and has always been, a rather strange word in our lexicon. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as 'The power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces'. But wait a minute, what constitutes a mysterious force? If I use the force of electricity to power a flashlight is that magic? Of course not you say! But wait... if I show that same flashlight to a tribesman in the Amazon, is it magic? If you tell him that it isn't, that it actually works on a force called electricity will that make it any less magical in his mind? 

Of course, there's question underlying the questions I asked here, what is Witchcraft? As Christians we know that Witchcraft is forbidden, something which is clearly echoed in both the Old and New Testaments. As fantasy is currently all the rage most Christianity has remained at large rather leery about all the fantasisim, and not for a bad reason. Witchcraft is prohibited and the last thing we as Christians want to do is encourage our children to practice it. 

So what is Witchcraft? Well the Bible gives us a few blatantly obvious examples, spiritual mediums, necromancers, divination, ritualized spells, consulting with spirits and any sort of worship of Pagan gods. Alright so we covered the obvious, Wicca, Horoscopes and Theurgy (summoning of spirits) are most definitely forbidden. Any book wherein the obviously occult is practiced and encouraged should not be read for enjoyment and certainly not given to children. 

 On the other side of the spectrum, any sort of power that comes directly from God (ie Miracles) is most certainly not forbidden. God and His Angels most certainly are allowed to have their own supernatural power. This is why works such as Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia tend to be accepted by most Christians as any supernatural power that is good, either tends to be the work of God, or worked by an angelic character (such as Gandalf) using his own natural abilities. Such obvious distinctions between the power of God and that of Evil are quite healthy, both for children and adults. 

But between these two extremes lies a fuzzy grey area. What about Star Wars? The Matrix? What about Superheroes? It's hard to say exactly, because fantasy complicates the issue by adding forces and situations that we don't have to deal with in reality. But I'll deal more on that subject tomorrow. 


  1. I like your examples. One question I would love to hear your answer on is: What about Harry Potter?

  2. Brendan, like me, loves Harry Potter. He'll get to that.

  3. Jay loves Harry Potter too. I have not read them yet though.

  4. I'm interested in hearing about HP as well.

  5. This post reminds me if Arthur C. Clarke's famous statement, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," which, of courts reminds me of the corollary, "Any technology which can be distinguished from magic is insufficiently advanced."