Coming Home to Elfland

Some of us are turned off by the word magic and anything related to it. Our minds are drawn to witchcraft, games of poor repute in the Christian community such as Dungeons and Dragons, or books at which some Christians snub their noses, such as the Harry Potter series. It is ironic, then, that at least one classic Christian author, G.K. Chesterton, wrote fondly of magic in a chapter from his book Orthodoxy (1908). His argument is quite different than one that a modern-day witch might use, and his point is sound: mankind needs to get itself back to the magic of Christ, the mystery of God and his supernatural power, and in doing so, recover the joy of being of Christian.

Chesterton begins with our lives in the world. He talks about the businessman who rebukes the idealism of his office-boy, saying “Ah, yes, when one is young, one has these ideals in the abstract and these castles in the air; but in middle age they all break up like clouds, and one comes down to a belief in practical politics, to using the machinery one has and getting on with the world as it is.” With this statement, Chesterton sets one of the central themes of the chapter. When we are young, we are full of mystery, be it the young philanthropist who thinks he can save the world, or the child who looks for the elves who keep taking their binkies. To the young, the world is full of wonder, possibility, and ideals. There is nothing that cannot be fixed, nothing that cannot be overcome. Even death to my three year old is “going to see God.” What could be better than that?

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The Reflective Bible Teacher

In 1983, Donald Schön published The Reflective Practitioner. The book is not explicitly Christian. I am not sure whether he is a Christian, as the book gives no indication either way. Even still, the Christian community can benefit from scholarly work and research and I think we, as Christians, should leave no stones unturned as we seek to do the work of God.

This book is about practitioners – architects, engineers, psychotherapists, and others – and how they perform their work. Schön’s main assertion is about a new type of thinking, what he calls reflection-in-action. It is this type of thinking that I believe will help Bible teachers become much more effective, and reflective, in our effort to help others find Christ.

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The Law of Undulation: a Concept by C.S. Lewis

In 1942, C. S. Lewis published The Screwtape Letters. The story is written as a series of letters from a senior demon, Uncle Screwtape, to a junior demon (his nephew), Wormwood. Each letter is advice on securing a man’s soul and covers many different aspects of life. Because it is written in from a demon’s perspective, Christians have to get used to the unique dialogue and characters, such as “the patient” (a man), “our father below” (the devil), and “the Enemy” (God). While the whole book is well worth reading, here I will focus on one particular concept in chapters 8 and 9, the Law of Undulation.

The Law of Undulation is explained as the peaks and troughs humanity experiences in every area of our lives, such as our work, friends and, most importantly, our relationship with God. Peak times are characterized by feelings of richness and liveliness, where everything is new and exciting. Troughs are full of numbness and poverty. Humans are by nature unstable and, according to Lewis, this roller coaster of feelings is the “nearest approach to constancy” that we will ever have.

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