Friday, August 15, 2008

Witches and stuff

So my radio journey is apparently not over! I'd been reflecting during the week on the "learnable-teachable" blurb from last week and the drama which inspired it - as much as I like Bill English as a nice person, reading the paper this week left me wondering again about what was learned. Reports showed the similarity of off the record comments regarding Don Brash's failings that seemed markedly similar to his comments on Key's apparent inability to understand Working For Families. Now of course, he has recanted and says he will never challenge Key's leadership. However, that doesn't rule someone else doing that on his behalf...

Anyways, this week we talked about witches and fairies and stuff! The inspiration? Massey University's new course on witchcraft. I'm not particularly alarmist about these sorts of things I'm afraid. The course designer says its all about historical enquiry and seeing people in their contexts, even if one of the assignments is to create a spell or curse (backed up by research).

I remember the Harry Potter emails that circulated in the past claiming that the Harry Potter spells were real and quoting the head of the UK Satanist Society on youth membership increasing on the back of a Potter-inspired orgy of occultic interest. Christians were the main disease vector for this hoax.

In my atheist existence, reading fantasy novels probably kept alive a spark of agnosticism within me, that there was more to life than mere chemical existence. It didn't do me any harm anyway. And I'll mostly look for the search more than I'll focus on the sin (ie the particular spiritual activity) of someone exploring spiritual practices that are dodgy. In other words, an interest in spiritual things often points us to the emerging sense of spiritual need that Christ can fulfil in that person.

With witchcraft, the basic human yearnings for identity (who am I?), righteousness (Am I OK?) and power (Am I strong/in control?) are stil met, albeit in ways that I would say are a blind alley. An often self-conscious feminism present in witchcraft can be particularly powerful in providing identity. And many churches are not good at affirming women.

The concerns lie in the potential for damage of the young. Does a witchcraft course normalise something in society? I'd say no more than many other things and probably less than some (like drug in schools). But parents are always faced with these kinds of dilemmas a they contemplate what can look like the thin of the wedge - fairies lead to Harry Potter, Harry Potter leads to occult. At the same time, making something forbidden when everyone else is into it, can have its own perverse attraction. This will always be an issue for parents.

One principle that can operate is age appropriate boundaries. Actually, this can apply to reading the bible with kids. David and Bathsheba doesn't really work in the original. So the same approach can apply to this area were parents have concerns. Also,the opportunity for dialogue. Go see and experience some of these things with kids and take the opportunity to engage in some chat about the extremes.

Anyways, thats where it went. Because Aaron and I don't quite agree on this stuff it was possibly slightly better radio!

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