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CS Lewis view on magic

CS Lewis view on magic

Postby vanroekel » 01 Jan 2006, 19:33

I have friends that would not go to the movie Narnia because they denounce magic and would not go to Harry Potter either. Has Mr. Lewis ever written about the use of magic in his books?
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re: CS Lewis view on magic

Postby Messenger_of_Eden » 01 Jan 2006, 20:30

Yes, CSL does write of magic, both "White Magic" and "Evil magic"--this is an issue each person (Christian) mas to deal with in his or her own heart--and unfortunately it is a bit awkward even for me. But I consider the context of the story, and what CSL describes as "good magic" is often more a power over the elements, something innate in the nature of the character, such as Aslan. But then again there are Magicians and things like that, and some of them do cast "good" spells.

I don't really know how to answer that, other than to say sometimes people cannot be okay with this, Romans 8 comes to mind. I thiink this is something that each person must deal with on their own, and let their own beliefs dictate how they accept (or don't accpt) it.

Personally, I do cringe a little at the mention of "created river-gods" and incantations for good and all that. But I tolerate that and understand it in the context of CSL's other works. In light of the strong parallels to Christ and the great virtues and wonder of the stories, I accept them as a whole.

Some people might think this is inconsistent, but that's the way it is. I allow myself to enjoy and love Narnia. I was raised on it, after all. And there are a great many Christians who also enjoy and love it. But I know there are some who do not.
"If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself."--St. Augustine of Hippo
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re: CS Lewis view on magic

Postby A#minor » 01 Jan 2006, 21:50

You have to think of the term "magic" rather loosely. It means different things in different scenarios. If Aslan is using it, then it just means His Divine Power. If a witch is using it, then it is definitely evil, and is not allowed by nice persons.

The point is that the good guys win in the end, and not by means of their own power or their own "magic". It is Aslan who wins, and all the good guys with Him.

If you really think about it, the redemptive work of Christ on the cross could be called "magic". It is the use of a power that we don't fully understand to bring about a change. When Lewis speaks of "good magic" this is what he means.

There is also a "magic" akin to the powers of creation and nature. when Lucy utters a spell to make invisible things visible, Aslan appears and says that there are rules in place and that even He must obey them.
Lucy's spell is not "bad magic", but simply a rule that is in place in the nature of Narnia's world that must be obeyed. Like gravity.
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Re: re: CS Lewis view on magic

Postby Jeff » 01 Jan 2006, 22:57

I agree with A#Minor (very well put, BTW). The same term can mean different things depending on when/where/how/by whom it is said.
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re: CS Lewis view on magic

Postby Paul F. Ford » 03 Jan 2006, 14:52

I too agree with A#minor and would only send vanroekel to the perhaps too long entry on magic in the fifth edition of my book.
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re: CS Lewis view on magic

Postby NarniaLover89 » 03 Jan 2006, 14:57

He does talk some about magic. The only qoute I can think of now is this one from The Weight Of Glory"

do you think I’m trying to wave a spell over you.? perhaps I’m but remember your fairy tales. Spells Are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have to need of strongest spell that can be found to wake us up from the evil enchantment of worldliness witch has laid open us for nearly a hundred years.


I hope this helps you
Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.-Saint Patrick Of Ierland

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Re: re: CS Lewis view on magic

Postby k-mann » 18 Apr 2006, 22:21

The magic in both Narnia and Harry Potter is mechanical (part of creation) and not "occultic". It can be used for bad or good. This is of course only in fiction an not in real life. The magic points to something else, as Pastor Shaun says it:
It cannot be argued that all forms of imagined magic are by nature evil. Such a view stilts the creative process our Creator endowed us with. Further, it degrades our ability to accept the supernatural.


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re: CS Lewis view on magic

Postby WolfVanZandt » 18 Apr 2006, 22:52

he also talked some about magic and science in The Abolition of Man.
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re: CS Lewis view on magic

Postby carol » 19 Apr 2006, 01:01

When we see other "gods" and non-human mythological beings in Narnia, they are always in subjection to Aslan. (see the incident with Bacchus and Silenus).

I think this shows that Lewis acknowledges there are a lot of other spiritual powers about, some relatively harmless but others potentially nasty, and a further group definitely evil, - BUT they are only there under the authority of God. None of these powers has more strength than Jesus. "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world," the Bible puts it.

If we think of Narnia as like a visible, tangible version of the spiritual side of life, then it makes sense for the other spiritual beings to be represented by visible, tangible beings.

Does that add to the case for Lewis?
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re: CS Lewis view on magic

Postby Theo » 19 Apr 2006, 12:24

Dr Cornelius is a magician, apparently a fairly conventional one, and he's a good guy.
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re: CS Lewis view on magic

Postby Esther » 19 Apr 2006, 23:49

I recently wrote a paper on the differences between magic and religion, and I was amazed at how fuzzy the line can be. It's seems on the outset like an obvious distinction to our modern minds, but in the ancient world there really was no distinction at all. Often in the Bible, the prophets are performing the same actions as their pagan counterparts; in the one case it's a miracle of God and in the other it's considered magic (Moses in the courts of Pharaoh is a good example). It's a highly complicated and nuanced subject, but one conclusion I was able to draw is that there is a key difference in attitude. In defining magic, the primary attitude is one of manipulation and desire for power; in religion, the primary attitude is one of submission and reliance on the power of God. I haven't read through the Chronicles yet with this in mind, so I'm not sure if it holds up in every case, but I think it's a helpful principle to keep in mind.

There was also a recognized difference in the ancient world between "white" and "black" magic. White magic was meant to help people and was probably more along the lines of what we would describe as science or medicine, but they didn't have those distinctions back then. Black magic was anything meant to harm, manipulate, or deceive others and was looked down on and even outlawed in most places.

So you can see, even from this short description (and from the wonderful comments that have already been made) that this issue is not as simple as we might wish it to be. I haven't read the Harry Potter books, so I can't say what kind of attitude is being promoted, but I believe the magic of Narnia (the good magic) is always done in submission to or in accordance with the will of Aslan, and therefore should not be considered evil simple because it goes by the name of "magic."
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