CONVERSATIONS ON MAGIC
People want to talk about magic.
When we go to conventions, it is the number one topic that attendees bring up in our booth. Some begin the conversation accusing us, some start off defensive, some are curious, some confused, some joyful … and so begin hours of fascinating discussions with our visitors.
I’d like to revisit some of these conversations on magic and paganism, so that you can be an observer, and if you like, a commentator. Perhaps I’ll make it a series.
First though, I humbly ask for you to forbear with me. I know this is a touchy subject. Almost all my Christian friends disagree with me, and yet we are brethren who love one another.
‘Leaning Annie’ is a mixture of people I’ve met who ‘lean’ towards the notion that God is okay with magic being portrayed positively in Christian books and media. Yet, they are not completely convinced that their position is a right one.
Annie, about sixteen or seventeen, perused our books for a few minutes. She seemed thoughtful, and with open countenance she turned to me and asked, “I want to be a Christian writer, could you tell me why I should not write about magic in my Christian fantasy novels?”
There really seemed to be a great sincerity behind her question.
I responded with my own question, “Do you know what the Bible says about magic?”
She answered quickly. “Yes.”
I pressed the point. “There are some topics, like wine, that have scriptures which seem to promote it and others which seem to condemn it. Though God has one doctrine on wine, we can see why different believers hold to opposing and contradicting positions on the subject. Does that make sense?”
She nodded her head.
“Good. Now, there are many scriptures on magic in both the Old and New Testament, and they all, every one, portray magic in the negative. Do you know of anywhere in the Bible that says magic is good, or okay?”
“No,” she said, “I totally get that.”
“I think then, I know where you are coming from. Tell me if I’m wrong. You want to follow God’s Word. You also have read many books, some even claiming to be Christian books that have magic and pagan elements in them … and those books are exciting, you really enjoyed them. Am I right so far?”
Annie thought for a few seconds, looked down, and then back up at me. “Yes, that is correct …”
I continued, “But, you have heard a doctrine that says it is okay to use magic in stories as long as those stories do not take place in the real world. For if they are in a pretend fantasy world then the magic can represent something else, something that is not evil. Furthermore, the reader will not be deceived into thinking magic is good because the reader, even a child, understands that none of the story is real, by the very context: i.e. the pretend world that the story takes place in.”
Her eyes brightened, “Yes, exactly. That is it exactly!”
“So, in your books you want to portray magic as good. You’ve already told me that you understand God thinks it is evil, and I’m sure you know His warnings, “Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil”. But you are under the impression that it is okay to call evil good as long as you do so in a pretend world. Am I still explaining your position fairly?”
She looked like someone who had just noticed something unpleasant poking out from her ice cream. “I wouldn’t have phrased it that way … but I suppose it is accurate.”
She really was taking all this very well, and she still seemed eager to hear what I had to say, so I continued my train of thought. “Since we’ve now decided it is okay to call evil good in a pretend world, there is nothing to stop us from calling any other thing good, which God has labeled as bad or evil, as long as we place it in the context of a pretend, fantasy world.”
This is the point where I hoped she would clearly see the inconsistency in her doctrine.
“Annie, I want to write a book where killing babies in the womb, abortions, are used to give special powers and abilities to my protagonists. I know God says that killing babies is sin, but in my made up world this behavior will represent a sacrifice of praise to our God or maybe even prayer to Him, and then He is the one who bestows the special powers on my characters. I know that sounds off, but you’re going to do the same thing with magic, something else that God calls evil, so I don’t see any problem with it. Are you okay with that? Would your parents let you read books like that?”
She leaned back from me, shocked. “No … No … that’s awful. No!”
Again she turned her gaze away, and then with boldness looked me in the eyes. “I’ve never thought of it that way. I can’t pick and choose what I want to be okay with God.”
“Amen, sister. Our measuring rod must always be God and His perfect Word and we must always be on the alert for our own itching ears.”
A little while later, Annie came back with her mother. We introduced ourselves and talked some, and we were greatly encouraged.