Sunday, April 23, 2006

Do You Believe In Magic?


No doubt most of us have heard of the woman from Gwinnett County GA who wants to ban the “Harry Potter” books from the school library system? Her name is Laura Mallory, and she is a self-described “Evangelical Christian.” Says Mallory:

“I think the anti-Christian bias — it’s just got to stop, and if we don’t say something, we’ll just keep getting pushed out of the schools. And I pay taxes, too, and I think that gives me a voice to speak out about this.”

“Their thinking has changed. They’re designed to think that witches and witchcraft and wizards and all this is just normal. And that it’s OK. And that it’s even good. I strongly disagree with that. I don’t think it’s OK, and I don’t think it’s good at all.”

Haven’t we had enough of this idiocy? What has happened to our culture? Respecting other peoples’ religious beliefs is one thing, but putting up with this sort of thing is quite another.

When I was a kid, everyone knew there was no such thing as magic. There were no witches, warlocks, sorcerers, wizards, ghosts, goblins, flying elephants, talking rabbits or coyotes that ordered contraptions from ACME in order to catch a roadrunner. These things were in our lives, but were not real. We learned people were human, capable of acts of good and evil and everything in-between, but without the benefit of magic.

The real problem is that people like Mallory have their own fantasy book that they believe to be real. A book that tells of talking serpents, demons, virgin births, all sorts of fantastic events.

As my wife says, rational people are not threatened by fantasy books about supernatural powers. They know how to separate fact from fiction. They use logic, reason and critical thinking as their tools. It is the people who believe in magical powers and the supernatural that are threatened.

Here is the irony. You know what books she is suggesting to replace Harry Potter? Tim LeHaye’s “Left Behind: The Kids.” The “Left Behind” books? The ones that say they are based on Biblical prophecy. The ones that say, “You just wait, EVERYBODY. You’ll see. Jesus is coming back and he is going to be so pissed. You are all going to die horrible deaths.” Just another fantasy, right? Only these people think it is true.

I was raised a Christian, but it was way different back then. We were taught that the Bible was written metaphorically. The minutiae of the Bible wasn’t important. The lessons were. The Bible taught us to be good decent people. It wasn’t science book. It wasn’t a history book. We were taught God used evolution to put life on earth. Genesis was a metaphor about good behavior vs. bad behavior. It wasn’t meant to be taken literally.

Moreover, we were taught that there are all kinds of people with all kinds of beliefs, and we just had to accept that. You couldn’t ban books if they contradicted your beliefs. You could choose not to read them. You could disagree with them, but you accepted the fact the other people had a right to read and believe what they wished.

Something has happened since then. Today’s Evangelical Christians want to build a world where there are no other beliefs. They want to force their beliefs on the rest of us. It isn’t enough to say, “Listen Logan. I don’t want you to read Harry Potter. You are my child and what I say goes. Never mind what the other kids are reading. You aren’t going to read that.” They don’t want to do that. They want to say, “Listen Al. You are a heathen. You are going to hell, and frankly, I’m happy for you. I don’t like you. In fact, I hate you. You and your dirty little kids are all going to burn in hell. Your opinion doesn’t count. What you want doesn’t count. Because you aren’t a Christian. I believe in magic, and witches, and sorcerers, and I’m going to decide which fantasy books are going to be available for all the kids, not just my own. Some of us are in the club. We’re special. We are going to spend our eternity in a good place, because we ‘believe.’ You, on the other hand are not in the club. You are going to burn in agony for eternity. Your opinion doesn’t count.”

What kind of sick twisted vision is that anyway? We live what, less than a hundred years? A hundred years max vs. eternity. And in that relatively minute span of years, if we don’t believe in an extremely narrow, very specific set of irrational concepts that do not hold up to scrutiny, we are tortured for eternity. Tortured for eternity? This is what I’m supposed to believe? That there is this supreme being, the inventor of the universe and the laws of physics, and all things in it, including our sorry little asses? He has created us imperfect beings, capable of feeling horrific physical pain and mental anguish, and if we don’t believe in something that is entirely ridiculous, that goes against what little bit of rationality our pea-brains are able to fathom, our punishment is eternal torture? I could be a selfless, altruistic person. Devote my life to the service of the downtrodden. Deny myself any sort of comfort or pleasure in lieu of helping to alleviate the suffering of those less fortunate than I, but if I don’t believe in magic, not because I don’t want to - but because I am incapable of ignoring facts and believing the fantastic - because I use the brain I was given by the Almighty - I get condemned to eternal torture for eternity by The Almighty? Ask any Christian. Even the reasonable ones. If you push them they will tell you that you must “believe” to enter heaven. Good behavior alone will not save you. In fact, bad behavior can be forgiven if you “believe.” These people say that belief trumps behavior. And there are millions of them.

Bloody Shite.

“Harry Potter” isn’t the problem. “Left Behind” isn’t the problem either. The problem is that we still have millions of ignorant people who cannot separate fact from fiction. We have millions of people who actually believe in magic.

6 Comments:

Blogger fgfdsg said...

I've never understood how the Narnia books, with their talk of 'Deep Magic' requiring the blood sacrifice of children, and wholesale slaughter of the enemy creatures, gets a pass from these types. Well, yes i can, you can read the whole thing as a religious crusade. "It's ok to slaughter wolves Peter, they're heathens".

Now I want to donate her library a copy of Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy - probably the most vehemently anti-christian children's books you'd ever read. I don't particularly like them, but i'm glad they're out there for critically-thinking kids to discover.

4:10 PM  
Blogger XTCfan said...

And in that relatively minute span of years, if we don’t believe in an extremely narrow, very specific set of irrational concepts that do not hold up to scrutiny, we are tortured for eternity. Tortured for eternity? This is what I’m supposed to believe?

You GO, Al.

Left Behind. Bloody shite, indeed.

4:20 PM  
Anonymous blue girl said...

Really good post, Al. We've been going to church since last fall. My son's friends were getting confirmed and he felt left out, so he wanted to do it. Fine by me.

I never went to church growing up -- that's a whole other topic. Anyway, when I'm in church now I sit there and think about you a lot and the other bloggers...and I stare at the people up on stage singing and playing their guitars and I just wonder about it all.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Jeremy Cherfas said...

You said it Viscount. And I'm glad you did, 'cuz now I don't have to.

iligi -- timmit?

9:09 AM  
Blogger Bobby Lightfoot said...

Right on, brutha, right on.

And then they act like you're whack if you believe in Santa.

Fucking shit heels.

And that Jesus! What a TOOL!

Maybe Jeebus and God realized they hadn't thought it through quite enough.

Right after they invented DNA.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Kevin Wolf said...

Well said, Al.

Do you remember so-called Jesus Freaks? They were the only people I ever ran into growing up who'd "got religion." But it was hippy-dippy Jesus-loves-you religion.

Jesus was a hippy icon. Jesus Christ Superstar to coin a phrase.

10:25 AM  

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