Monday, December 27, 2010
Being Mystical in an Unmystical World
Muggles lack magic, J.K. Rowling tells me, and there is no doubt I am a muggle. My students are Muggles too, but worst of all instead of Dumbledore in class, they get me. Sometimes I get on the elevator in my two-story building and hope that it will open to Narnia, but it always opens to the carpet stains on the polyester floor.We so think we want a magical God. Hardcore Pentecostals with their miracles-on-demand approach to glossalia, healing and more certainly have a tinge of magical thinking. Sometimes I think people that focus to on "grace, not works" think a bit magically too - you know, "I don't have to quite porn, God will just remove it from my life by His grace."
We are warned against magical thinking as a solution to our cultural problems and it is a good warning. I have known a few people who try to live magically and they ended up either deluded or wicked. Thinking magically didn’t get these folk to Narnia, but looks like it might get them to bankruptcy, the psych center, or Hell.
The best thing about the God of the Bible is that He rejects magic while being miraculous. The Bible shows “magic” to be a dead end for what humanity wishes to possess. Once we get it, then magic is just another means to power. Magic can be manipulated, so it cannot be magical.
Miracles are wonderful, because we cannot demand them. We can ask for a miracle, but God gives us what we need and not what we want. God, if the God of the Bible exists, is all-knowing and just, so He cannot be bribed or tricked.
But as John Mark points out, Christ is no magical, He is mystical. He lets us touch something outside the material world. Finding and experiencing such is essential to our well-being. So why do we so often confuse the magical and the mystical?
For exactly the reason stated, the magical is ours to control, the mystical is larger than ourselves. Magic breeds pride, while mysticism humility - and in fact that is a good test about what experience is what.
WHat have you experienced that is greater than yourself.