Hey, Kelsey! I have a super random question and I know it can be a bit of a sensitive topic in some circles but I also know you and your hubby are kind of fantasy nerds like my hubby and I so I’m curious to hear your take. How do you tackle the subject of magic? In average day to day cartoons we have “magic spelling wands” and “big world magic” and then “magic kingdoms” and sorcerers on Disney …I never thought much of any of it … until today. Kennedy said, “Can I do that when I get my magic powers?” I responded with a simple people can’t really do magic sweetie, it’s just pretend. But it kind of opened up a mental can of worms. Thoughts/opinions? –Hailey
Apparently, Hailey has gathered that I’m a bit of a Fantasy fan. Perhaps it was from our family pictures this year…
Or maybe from my boys’ Knight & Castle bedroom…
Or maybe because having a kid dressed up like this around the house is pretty commonplace around here…
But it really is a great question, so I’m going to give my best shot at answering. I’m afraid my thoughts on it are a bit complex.
Basically, the Bible refers to witchcraft and wizardry as evil, so any form of magic incantations, calling up the dead, special powers drawn from objects, etc is evil (2 Chronicles 33 and Galatians 5).
However, the Bible definitely makes a point of those things *existing*. I was raised not being allowed to watch any Disney movie with a witch or wizard in it, as if it was bad for me to even know they even existed. I believe this was the wrong approach. There ARE witches, Satan worshipers, demon possession, and other evil forces out there and it’s good to be prepared to fight them. The important thing is to not confuse them with what they actually are… Enemies.
We have a great Castle park down the road with lots of knights, princesses, dragons, and wizard stuff in it. Gabriel dresses up in his armor, grabs his sword, and we go frequently together. He loves it! The entire time, I encourage the good of Fantasy (being courageous, conquering wickedness, rescuing the Princess as Christ rescued his Bride). However, every good epic needs bad guys to fight, so that’s what the wizards and dragons are for. (I think the people who originally built the park intended for the Wizards and Dragons to be good characters, but Gabriel is being trained to think otherwise.)
In the past, stories like St. George and the Dragon made for great kids’ stories with clear-cut bad guys that inspired boys to manhood. Nowadays, there’s a huge push in modern culture to twist up tradition and change what was once evil (Dragons, Vampires, Werewolves, etc) and make them good guys who are just ‘misunderstood’. While I enjoy a unique twist to a story as much as anyone, I think the ultimate effect is damaging. In the Bible, the Devil is represented by a Dragon/Serpent and men are supposed to crush his head. Teaching my children that Dragons are good, is the wrong symbolism.
We watched How to Train Your Dragon with Gabriel a few times, but it’s not on our frequent list because I don’t want him growing up to think of them as friends and allies. I think Harry Potter had great Good vs. Evil themes and plan to show it to my children, but because of its confusing terminology with good witches, spells, etc. I’m going to wait until they’re older. I also encourage any Disney movie where the main character is fighting against an evil witch or wizard and overcoming. Once those witches or wizards start being portrayed as good guys, is where I get nervous.
Now, I’m not saying that you should never watch anything that’s not 100% (because… then what would we watch, honestly?). Instead, I recommend waiting until your children are old enough to watch it from a Christian perspective and recognize the good and the misleading. If, after watching Harry Potter, my 10 year old announces that ‘witches are cool’ or that ‘he’d like to be wizard when he grows up’ we have a problem. However, once he’s old enough to understand that the story has its faults and mixed up terminology, I think it can still be appreciated for its epic battle of good vs. evil (in my opinion). After all, the Christian life is a constant battle between Good and Evil, and some stories are more inspiring than others. Let’s find stories that inspire and prepare our children to fight that battle bravely.
Okay, my last thoughts are on MAGIC in its generalized term (as distinct from Witchcraft, Wizardry, or Sorcery). Magic, in the tradition of great Christian authors like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, is the term for powers beyond normal life or understanding. Narnia and Middle Earth were filled with all sorts of magic, but Aslan (the untame Lion) was the Creator and Sustainer throughout it all and only select characters in LOTR were gifted with the ability to use it.
I think Magic, as portrayed in Fantasy and Fairy Tales, reminds us of the supernatural. There IS more to this world than meets the eye, and it’s good to remind our children of that. There ARE evil forces and there are also strong, unseen GOOD forces. After all: “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12)
I appreciated this quote from the movie Thor, which summarized my thoughts on it rather nicely. “Your ancestors called it magic, you call it science. Where I come from, they are one and the same.” So in other words, Magic is the term for supernatural happenings that we don’t understand yet. Of course, Magic isn’t just some static ‘force’ out there in the cosmos (*cough, Star Wars, *cough*). Instead, this whole world is run by a both powerful and mysterious Creator who has chosen to reveal his glory in past through miraculous happenings. From Moses’ 12 plagues and the parting of the red sea to Jesus’ Christ’s healing of the sick and raising of the dead.
We, as Christians, cannot be materialists, believing only in what we can see. Instead, we have more license than anyone to enjoy the magic of what cannot be seen. Ours is a faith of prophecy, miracles, and conquering evil. So let’s teach our children how to fight the good fight, remembering that so much of life is learned through stories.
I’ll close with one of my all-time favorite quotes.