Three Stories Filled With Magic
The mob pushed closer to the house, beating on the doors and windows. It was only a matter of time before they broke in and killed us—or worse. One of the strangers stood and walked toward the door. He nodded, and the door burst open. He casually raised his hand and a blinding light radiated from it like a shockwave, leveling the men outside. They screamed, clutching at their eyes while blindly stumbling over one another in an effort to flee.
Priests danced around the fire, muttering dark enchantments. Nothing happened—no fire, no divine light—nothing.
Finally, the wizard stood up. The corners of his mouth twitched with mirth. “Need a little more practice, my friends?”
One of the older priests flung a curse in his direction.
“My, my! There’s no need for that. Don’t bite unless you have teeth. Here, let me show you how it’s done.” The wizard raised his staff into the air and closed his eyes. Two heart-beats later, the sky answered. Lightning, wrapped in flames of blue and green, struck the stones behind him. The lifeless bull, the rock altar, the water—all were gone—vaporized by the power of his God.
A figure draped in a black robe wreathed with ebony flames stood guard by the stone—invisible to the onlookers. Invisible to all except me. He hovered just above the ground like some disembodied shadow barring my way. Despite their ignorance, the others reacted to his presence—weeping, beating their chests, wailing loudly as if the din alone could make him flee. No, that wouldn’t do it. What lay inside was his, and he would not give it up so easily.
I felt the Power rise within me, and the dark sentinel immediately blanched. From somewhere within his robes his eyes zeroed in on me. He trembled, giving more life to the dark flames. I held out my hand and took a deep breath. One word burst into my mind. I couldn’t hold it back and shouted it like a battle cry.
The stone split in two and fell away from the cave entrance. Like a stream of dust before a gale, Death was driven up over the mountain and into the open sky, shrieking as though I had dealt him the final blow. But no, that battle was still to come. With a clap of thunder, he was gone.
I let my eyes fall back to the cave. My friend stood in the dusty entrance, bound hand and foot by tattered strips of grave cloth.
“Take those off and let him go,” I ordered those standing nearest me. “He is alive.”
What should the Christian author’s attitude toward magic be? In the Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis writes much of magic. There’s the Deep Magic, the Deeper Magic, the enchantments of various magicians and witches, the curses of dragons, star magic—you get the picture. I have read that not all Christians at the time looked with kindness on his fictional amalgamation of the secret arts and Christianity. I guess this shouldn’t surprise me. Even now, with such a literary giant as our forebear, how many people squirm when we Christian Fantasy writers show them our stories? After all, magic has connotations of supernatural power derived from somewhere other than God. But does it have to?
In my mind, Lewis, and others of his caliber (Tolkien, Lawhead, etc.) redeemed magic to its higher, nobler form—the creative display of God’s power through his children to further the Kingdom. A brief glance at Aslan, Gandalf, or Merlin’s power is all it takes to see how authors can elevate magic from darkly arcane, to holy and vibrant. Of course, to make ourselves feel better, we call this sort of holy power “miracles” when we discuss it in Sunday School. But in reality, the definitions for both magic and miracles include the same core element—supernatural power altering the course of normal events. And when we read Biblical accounts of God intervening in the world, we shouldn’t lose sight of how “magical” they would’ve appeared to those experiencing them—hence the examples above.
I know, I know: I embellished the details. But honestly, I didn’t change the stories that much. Isn’t it reasonable to think an angel would have telekinetic powers, that Elijah would have been viewed as a wizard by the ignorant, or that Jesus would’ve seen into the spirit world while raising Lazarus from the dead?
Okay. Great. So what?
I’m glad you asked. When God moves to spread the gospel among unreached people groups, there are frequent displays of supernatural power . . . even in our modern times. Want some proof? Check out Craig Keener’s Miracles, which is one of the first encyclopedic, rigorously researched forays into the reliability of modern miracle accounts. I have both volumes and they are HUGE and chock-full of corroborating evidence. His goal was to methodically catalog for the Western church what the Body of Christ in other parts of the world already knows: God still works miracles and pretty frequently. Displays of supernatural power further the gospel. Who wouldn’t be impacted by a true, genuine healing?
Therefore, if we are writing Christian fantasy, and our goal is to reflect something of God’s truth through our craft, shouldn’t we take a page out of the Holy Spirit’s playbook and portray the power of God as it actually is—amazing, miraculous, magical? I think so. If we left magical elements out of our stories, we would not represent God as he presents himself to us in the Bible. And it is, after all, THE archetypal fantasy story.
So, Christian Fantasy writers everywhere: hold your heads high when next you write of good magic. You’re in impressive company.
All images courtesy of sattva at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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Nathan grew up in the woods of Alabama, where he spent his time exploring, hiking, and dreaming up stories. Now, as a child/adolescent therapist and author, he’s teaching kids and teens how to redeem their stories using Biblical principles. He still lives in Alabama, where you will find him with his wife and three kids every chance he gets.
To learn more about Nathan’s fiction or to purchase a copy of Daniel And The Sun Sword, visit Amazon.