Worlds, Magic, and Morals


One of my favorite things to do is think up new worlds. I imagine worlds where trees have power, worlds where a stone can change someone’s life, worlds where every person has a magical gift. In my Writing and Reading Children’s Literature class, Prof Angela Brown has stated quite positively that all magic is evil because the Bible condemns it. This has led to a flurry of thought on my part. Is it wrong to imagine a place where supernatural abilities are normal? Is this an encouragement of witchcraft? My teacher says yes. I think that this misconstrues imagination.

Tolkien wove a world where God sung the world into existence. Lewis wrote something similar. In the LOTR world, “wizards” are actually Maiar, like the angels. His whole universe has strong theological themes (although not outright allegory, like Lewis). I don’t think that this is wrong.

I think that the reason magic, real magic, is something dangerous and against God is because it is power that is coming from something other than him. And maybe it is the word ‘magic’ itself is the problem. We wouldn’t call the power of the Holy Spirit magic. In Tolkien’s world, that’s kind of what it is. Gandalf only has power through Iluvatar, “the Father of All.” Yes, I am a dork to know all of this, but as we discussed in class, it’s important to know what the worldview of the author is and where their ideas are coming from. Tolkien was inspired by the Bible, by his Creator. Lewis’s novels are outright allegory. Aslan represents Christ. I doubt that his “magic” is the dark sort. I think that they used magic for lack of a better word. How do you describe a power that always has been and always will be, but that humans can’t even scratch the surface of? How do you describe the making of the world? Through song? Through “magic”? It seems a bit extreme to look at these authors and say that their works are those of Satan.

It is more difficult to look at books like Harry Potter and say that it’s okay. I’m a huge fan of HP. I love the story, I love the characters, and I love the writing. But where does that power come from? Rowling created a world where some people were born with it and some aren’t. The presence of magic in that way makes it an alternate universe. It’s not really in our world, it couldn’t be if one is born with this magical ability.

I’m still struggling a bit, but I don’t think that books that incorporate magic (basically any fantasy book you would care to pick up) are full of satanic principles. Some of them certainly could be, but in most I think they is an emphasis that world they are imagining is drastically different from this one. It’s a world where there are new possibilities, where people defy explanations. It’s a world where supernatural things happen and the only way we can really explain it is through the term “magic”.

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