The Hunger for Magic
Why are Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and the Marvel movies so popular? It's hard to overstate just how crazy people are for this kind of media. We love it. Sure, the stories are well written and the characters are interesting, but I think there is another reason. These stories reconnect us with our sense of wonder. They bring us into a world that is enchanted. They bring us into a world where magic is real. There are larger and more mysterious forces at work in these universes. In these worlds people don't wear jeans, they wear cool outfits that feature cloaks and capes. People live by codes of honor and dignity and they carry legendary swords. The ancient past is shrouded in mystery and folklore. Dragons and wizards exist. For thousands of years we have gathered around fires and told each other legends and stories of the heroes of old. That is still in us. It's just that we have replaced the glow of the fire with the glow of the screen. I think that we are hungry for magic and wonder. We want to feel a sense of awe, astonishment, and mystery. This is how life started out for all of us as children. The most ordinary things filled us with wonder, like the stars in the night sky. As we get older it becomes more and more difficult to have this experience. We get jaded. We find out that Santa Claus is not real and its all down hill from there. Life starts to become mundane and ordinary. We get preoccupied with paying the bills, but deep down we want to be reminded that life is bigger than us. It is larger and stranger and more mysterious than we can possibly imagine. You think our world is any less magical or strange than in Harry Potter? Seriously? Have you ever even seen a giraffe? And what about us? We are furless bipeds that live on a tiny rock floating in infinite space. We stuff dead plants and animals down a hole in our heads in order to survive and make complex noises at each other to convey meaning. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say this shit is pretty weird my friend! Its amazing how quickly we forget that. Life is more than shopping and Netflix, folks. Don't let our advancements in science and technology fool you. Life is just as mysterious today as it was 2,000 years ago. How extraordinary that we are even here, that the cosmos brought you into being whether by chance or not. You are here alive on this sphere in space. You can watch the birds fly above the treetops through the blue sky. How can anything be more miraculous? How can anything be more magical than that? I believe that this sense of wonder is the birthplace of true spirituality. When I was a child I used to feel a sense of wonder about Christianity too. When I entered a Catholic cathedral, the Gothic architecture, the stained glass windows, the statues, incense and chanting all evoked a sense of magic. When I flipped through a Bible I thought I was looking through a book of magical spells and supernatural stories. I thought Jesus was the one real superhero in history. As I grew older and gained more education, I realized that maybe Christianity and all those stories in the Bible were not quite what I had once imagined them to be. I realized that maybe the stories were not true in a literal sense. However, after a while I discovered that something can be true on more than one level. The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are not literally true in that they reflect historical facts, but that doesn't mean that there is no truth in them. We love those stories because they speak to something deep within us. They teach us something about what it means to be human. They share with us a deeper truth. Although I don't believe that everything in the Bible actually happened, I have recovered a sense that the stories and the tradition of Christianity still hold magic and truth. Something mysterious has been at work in the world from the beginning of time and the Bible is a testament to that fact. I'm talking about the Force and Energy that drives the process of evolution. I'm talking about the Life that pushes the little green shoot out of the ground in Spring. I'm talking about the Presence that inspired Jesus and Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela and Gandhi and so many others to fight for justice in the face of incredible obstacles and the threat of death. That Something has been driving people towards greater love and wholeness and connection for a long time. This Great Mystery is at work everywhere and there are many ways to connect with It; but to me, there are particularly interesting and beautiful ways in which It expresses Itself in Christianity. I think that it is still possible for Christianity to be a vehicle through which we can connect with this Great Source of wonder and magic once again.