Faith and Magic

The Harry Potter novels, and other stories of their kind, have been hugely popular for lots of reasons: they’re well written, the characters are engaging, the plots are compelling, and they invite people into all sorts of fantasies and adventures. And not least, in the center of it all is the perennial appeal of magic. Magic is fascinating because it has to do with power and control. Harry and h…

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Gracious

One of my favorite lines from the theater comes from The Man of La Mancha. In the play, Don Quijote has this habit of treating people better than some think they deserve to be treated. One of those people is Aldonza, a woman who’s been roughed up by life and become rather coarse and cynical along the way. Don Quijote, though, sees her as his fair lady Dulcinea, and he shows her all the honor and d…

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Spiritual And Religious

One of the great clichés of our day is the claim to be spiritual but not religious. But “spiritual” is a highly elastic term, so it’s fair to ask people what they mean by spirituality when they say that. Often the short answer is, “I don’t like organized religion.” If you press a bit, you may hear the standard complaints: church is boring; religious people are hypocrites; you don’t need dogma to believe in God…

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Finding God

Skeptics like to say that it’s irrational to believe in an invisible God, but that’s always struck me as a rather silly claim. It suggests that God ought to be visible in the way that clouds and cabbages are visible, but why should we expect to see God directly? Wouldn’t that make God just another object in the universe, when God is not a thing but the source of all things? We humans have a habit of se…

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