Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why I Don't Believe in the Occult

Conservative Christendom has long criticized films, books, TV series, games, and other media that have anything to do with witchcraft or the occult. The argument is that it lets in the demonic and exposes people (especially young ones) to dark forces. I've never been convinced of this. In fact, I've very much enjoyed several of the criticized franchises, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Harry Potter, and Hocus Pocus.

I've more recently realized why I probably have never felt threatened by this media. They all rely on formulaic interventions to impact how the powers that be work in the world. I don't believe God or the spiritual world works like that. God doesn't fit in the IFTTT (if this then that) workflow. He's far more relational.

Would potential dark forces work in a more formulaic way, then? Perhaps. But I don't see much evidence of formulas ever being the way things work in any Christian sacred texts. And I don't think gathering a few specific items and saying an incantation in a particular way would automatically please some dark being.

Magic like this just doesn't exist in this world. Magic from the perspective of awe, imagination, and wonder (as in Disney magic) is very much real, but that's a totally different arena.

Maybe Screwtape has pulled one over on me, and I'll quickly fall because l don't see the threat of the occult. But I frankly see no evidence that the spiritual works on formulas. Frankly, very little of the world, especially when involving humans, is truly as formulaic as these representations of the occult.

Sometimes I wish the world were more formulaic. It would be far easier to predict behavior and how things would work out. In fact, I think it is the human desire for clarity and confidence that leads us to try to find regular causal connections between things. If we can identify clearly defined formulas, then we have more control over the world (even the Divine), which soothes any anxiety we have about the ambiguity of life.

Because I don't believe the world, especially the spiritual world, operates on formula, then entertainment involving any form of magic is just that--entertaining fun. It's not a threat because it's not real. Frankly, I find the greater danger is believing that we can control ourselves, our world, and even God through rituals.

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