I read Joshua Gibbs’ clickbait-titled article Children Need Magic on the Lorehaven Facebook page and decided that I would write my own equally-clickbait-titled response. So buckle up, friends—the tattooed fuddy duddy is out to rain on parades again.
First things first: I have no problem with fictional magic. I read The Chronicles of Narnia series at least half a dozen times when I was a kid. I loved The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I read the entire collection of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. As an English major in college, more than half of my academic reading centered around fantastic tales of yore. I can draw a pretty gnarly dragon in just a few minutes. Magic can be fun, cool, exciting, even inspirational.
I also want to be clear that I do not oppose magic in our entertainment, especially children’s entertainment. As an adult, I can attest to the fact that my fascination with magic has waned as I have discovered other genres of books and movies. Yet for many people, magic is a lifelong enchantment, and when they spring from a Spirit-led imagination, magical stories can be very powerful.
Yet when I saw this article, my spider sense tingled as soon as I saw the title. The Socratic conversational format was a pleasant surprise, but what was even more surprising was the lack of sound logic in Mr. Gibbs’ arguments. He uses the traditional Christian scapegoat of Harry Potter as his tentpole around which to raise his defense of magic. His argument essentially boils down to this: magic leads to a sense of awe when beholding the natural world, which in turn leads to a sense of awe for God.
If Gibbs simply mean that children need a sense of wonder and curiosity and excitement, and that these sentiments are manifested in words like “magical”, “enchanting,” etc., then I wholeheartedly agree. Yet Gibbs brings up Harry Potter, which contains detailed depictions of magic craft (i.e., sorcery). In essence, he is saying that stories like Harry Potter are necessary for our children because of their attachment to magic, which leads to awe, which leads to God.
He first examines the pagan roots of magic and explains how magic as a concept has become innocuous today. He says that:
“…the devil does not care about magic anymore, at least not where you and I live. He is far more interested in convincing people that neither magic nor miracles is possible. For that reason, I imagine the devil is even more opposed to the Harry Potter books than you are.”
I agree that the devil does not want anyone to believe in miracles, because those are caused exclusively by God’s divine power. However, he would gladly want people to believe in “magic” in any form, because magic in the real world is supernatural power which does not come from God. As I outlined in another article several months ago, all supernatural manifestations of power which do not come from God come from Satan. There is no such thing as “good magic” in real life.
Gibbs goes on to compare the diluted meaning of magic with the Olympic Games, which were once held in honor of Zeus, but this is clearly not the case today. If we’re just talking about reading words on a page, then it’s no biggie, but the practice of magic, if it goes beyond playtime, is flirting with the occult. There is absolutely no glory given to Zeus when someone runs an Olympic race, yet even the most innocent summoning spell, if it is done with serious intent, is an invitation to demonic influence.
Of course, Gibbs doesn’t believe that people are actually using Harry Potter as magic manuals, and rightly so. But crediting the Harry Potter books for “…restoring children’s delight in school after the materialists and secularists turned schools into godless factories” is downright silly. He claims that “[m]agic is now a weapon of joy for fighting Darwin, Dewey, and all the other prophets of doom who have lately tried to strip the wonder from the world.” I call pure BS on that. Fictional magic has about as much power in the real world as the Star Fleet Federation has in the UN. And if we’re crossing over into actual magic, then that is demonic, pure and simple.
Children don’t need magic to experience the awe of the Creator. It is not a gateway to channel their unfocused wonder at the incomprehensible complexities of the world that then coalesces into divine worship once they’re older. The glory of God is manifested in nature quite clearly, and to obscure that glory under the veil of “magic” is a sin. So by all means, read and write magical stories. Share them with your children. Thrill them with tales of dragons and wizards and the ceaseless struggle between the powers of good and evil. But direct their awe and wonder at the natural world towards God alone. He deserves the totality of our awe and wonder.