The first time that I saw magic performed on stage was in our small town hall when I was about six years old. I was absolutely captivated by the magician’s trickery and, at the time, believed that what I saw was real.
So many things in my childhood were magic–and seemingly, real. The sun magically rose every morning, bright and warm; clouds could hold only so much moisture, then I’d watch these huge, sometimes scary, rumbling thunderheads approach and release their moisture magically back to earth as rain; I imagined that the colorful northern lights were God dancing with his angels among the stars; thunder was God scolding someone in heaven–sometimes He seemed especially angry! It was a fun time for me because I had a vivid imagination, and I loved to believe that many natural phenomena really were magic.
That was childhood magic. now I’m grown up. Regretfully, like Leonard Lipton’s “Puff, the Magic Dragon”, I also was forced to sacrifice my childhood fantasies and replace them with what we adults call, cold logic. But even to this day, I often wonder if we really stop believing in magic. Yes, we no longer believe in tooth fairies and a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, and who isn’t fascinated by a good, entertaining magic show. But have we replaced our childhood magic with a dark, more sinister love/fear relationship with magic that exists deep in our subconscious that can actually do us a lot of harm? For example, a few days ago I was parked outside a local bank in town that just happened to be near one of those Payday Loan offices. As I waited in the car for my wife to return from the bank, I watched a middle aged lady enter the Payday Loan office and, a few minutes later, exit with a small amount of cash in her hand. Was this lady aware of the high interest that was already tacked onto that small loan before she even was expected to repay it? Did she believe that, somehow, magically, she’d be able to repay that loan in a few days without adding interest upon interest to that loan? Sadly, I shook my head and couldn’t help but feel that that lady obviously believed in primitive, subconscious magic that somehow, “Puff, the Magic Dragon” would manifest in her life and give her enough money to pay back that loan.
Another form of primitive magic can be found in some of our religious practices of the day. There are many documented cases where so-called God’s evangelists preach hocus-pokes–send me your money and I’ll magically petition God to remove your pain, your sorrow, and make you whole again. Like that dear lady who fell for the hollow promises of that Pay Day loan shark, many of us fall for the false preaching of a ‘God’s disciple’.
To claim that one is without a religious belief is a lie. Atheism is a religion every bit as much as Christianity or Hinduism is. We all believe in something, and sadly, too often, we condemn the other person for believing different from us. So, is there a magic–a religion, that isn’t harmful to creation? Like the dear lady who trusted that some god, somewhere, would magically give her the money to pay back her loan, or the elderly gentleman who gives his last dime to that gospel preacher who promised, if he did that, God, magically, would take away his rheumatism, life can be very disappointing and painful. Yet, trust, pain, hope are but three of several attributes that a forward-looking God has endowed us with in order to help us to become more mature souls by making life a learning experience–a school of the highest order.
C. S. Lewis probably summed religion best when he said, “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” Religion–magic, wasn’t meant to make us happy. It was meant to eventually mature all of us into vibrant, living souls and become the very reflections of our Father-creator ourselves!
Magic and false prophets–teachers–are but a price God is exacting from us for the privilege of becoming gods some day ourselves.