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Johne

Writing Magic Systems As A Christian

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David Urbach wrote the following, and I really like it.

Quote

I generally follow the principle which I *think* was said by Chesterton...unless it was George MacDonald...or Lewis? But then he would be quoting one of them probably...the principle that a fantasy story is allowed to break any of the physical/scientific laws but must not break absolute moral laws. I like thinking of it this way, because it's simple enough to always remember but still makes me think very carefully. For example, sometimes changing certain physical laws in a story will imply something about the cosmology of that universe, which I may or may not want.

I think we have a lot of freedom in depicting magic. It can be another science, it can be a supernatural invocation. It can be neutral, or good, or evil. It can be learned or only inherent in certain beings. But I do think that a Christian writing about magic must not denigrate the idea of God's goodness and sovereignty. That does not mean that your fantasy world needs to have an explicitly Christian cosmology--I believe a Christian can write stories that take place in a pagan world (like C.S. Lewis' "Till We Have Faces"). But your story should not naturally lead a reader to think ill of our very real God and His Word.

In my stories, I find I am most interested in using magic to emphasize the presence of the supernatural in our lives, which we often struggle to see because we are blinded by sin. I also use it to inspire thoughts and wonder about God's creation which are rooted in biblical truth even if I'm changing the scientific details.

 

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I set my magic system as being attributed to wizards.  Wizards are angelic creature (or part of the Divine as I put it), and power is granted to them for specific things.

 

This way, power is granted from On High, and just does not exist around you, waiting to be picked up.

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On 8/11/2020 at 1:34 PM, Johne said:

I think we have a lot of freedom in depicting magic. It can be another science, it can be a supernatural invocation. It can be neutral, or good, or evil. It can be learned or only inherent in certain beings. But I do think that a Christian writing about magic must not denigrate the idea of God's goodness and sovereignty.

 

Well said, Johne!

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I remember in Lord of the Rings, Tolkien referenced "magic," as "lore."  And the term "magic," was an interpretation from an outside viewer to describe something they normally didn't understand.

 

I don't think C. S. Lewis took this view.

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On 8/11/2020 at 11:14 PM, Jeff Potts said:

I set my magic system as being attributed to wizards.  Wizards are angelic creature (or part of the Divine as I put it), and power is granted to them for specific things.

 

This way, power is granted from On High, and just does not exist around you, waiting to be picked up.

Sounds just like how Tolkien used magic. I like it.

One of the things I remember reading (seems like someone shared it here) is that magic should have a 'cost.' It's one of the marks of the real world occult that people are wanting power or ease without the investment of effort getting it the normal way costs.

So, e.g. the bad guy might shunt the cost to someone else (like the baddies in Dark Crystal renewing themselves at the expense of the little guys), or bear it as a scar like Voldemort losing his handsomeness. But the good ones should have to take time to recover or sacrifice something so they never use their power carelessly. 

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What I am doing with mine is rooting it in science, to an extent.

 

I am fascinated with recent sub-atomic discoveries, and the notion of what Life actually is.  Coupled with flights of fancy about what existed before creation - order and chaos.  Are the "forbidden" things that constitute "dark magic" really part of the nameless chaos of the Void, or things God does that we should never try?

 

To me it is all flights of fancy type stuff.  I am mostly a rationalist in that I see God's hand in the world working in an orderly way, with a predestined bent to it (and I don't believe in predestination).  But sometimes speculating what exists beyond the veil, without stating it as a fact, makes for some intriguing storytelling.

 

We are simple creatures when compared to the Creator.  Even the whole of us can never grasp what God alone knows.  And I take comfort in that fact.

 

I personally don't like power coming with a defined price.  It is used all over the place.  Unchecked power combined with folly, I find, makes for compelling stories.

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