Elijah the Wizard

I love the Elijah stories.  Part prophet, part wizard, I’m certain that Rowling got her model for Dumbledore from him.  For that matter, I wonder if Jezebel, Ahab and Ahaziah might be the source of the evil Malfoy family.  

Charles Taylor has argued that we have lost our sense of enchantment, or maybe it’s better put that we have lost our ability to perceive an enchanted world.  We no longer live in a world populated by “ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night.”  We have purified the air of the “cosmic powers of this present darkness,” and the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”  In so doing we have also emasculated and spayed the spiritual presences and forces that have been embedded in the human story for almost ever. 
Actually I may have to take that back.  All of them live on, just not within the context of liberal theology.  Fundamentalists and friends are filled up to here with the reality of the devil and his minions.  A few of my fundamentalist acquaintances give the devil so much credit for present evils, and all things they don’t like, that they are able to avoid all responsibility for the ills of this world, including those in their own lives.  Various New Age followers wax poetic over the beneficent spiritual presence they find in all things, everywhere, all the time.  Slightly more anchored persons opt for a Celtic Spirituality that few Celts would recognize but that encompasses both benevolent and malevolent spirits in moderate proportions that never get too far out of line.  The rest of us are entertained not only by Harry Potter but also by all the super heroes that inhabit movie land.  
The fundamentalist’s devil absolves humanity from responsibility.  New Age thinking tames the spiritual world, confining it to a mildly exciting but not threatening existence. Super heroes separate the world of enchantment from reality altogether and make it a form of fictional entertainment.   
Elijah takes the world of spiritual enchantment and plunks it down squarely in the serious business of understanding God’s engagement with humanity and God’s use of humans as agents of his power and presence.  Even though intimately involved with God and serving as conduits for God’s power, Elijah, in particular, does not live in a world he can control.  Unpredictable discontinuities haunt his life with real threats, famine, thirst, and anxieties great enough to challenge his faith.  They are all a part of his existence.  Enchantment, it seems, is not magic, and it is especially not magic that can solve the problem of how to maintain a favorable equilibrium in one’s life. 
Perhaps we need to discover a new way of understanding the spiritual enchantment of creation, a way that would allow us to seriously engage with in the context of our scientific age just as Elijah did in the context of his age.

5 thoughts on “Elijah the Wizard”

  1. Very interesting post. You know it always peeks my interest when you start quoting popular culture that comes in movie form especially since I don't recall seeing any jk rowling around your house. 😉 I'd love to hear more… I mean really do any of us live in a world we can control?

  2. An interesting, vexing, question, Steve. On the one hand, we as a society do have much more control over nature than Elijah's contemporaries, and less need to believe in magic (incantations and spells to make the crops prosper, etc). Lasers and electron microscopes would have been a source of enchantment to the ancients, but we actually get use out of them.On the other hand, we seem to have a deep-rooted need for enchantment and mystery. I like Einstein's view, that mystery is one of the deepest spiritual needs of man, even if he turns to science rather than religion as a direction in which to channel it. There's always plenty of mystery and wonder down that road, too.Perhaps mystery is the name of the bridge where we can all meet.

  3. I remember Madeleine L'Engle writing that she could remember when she was little she used to be able to float down the stairs without touching them. (and when older she could no longer do this because?…. we stop believing we can.) When I was little I LOVED \”Mistress Masham's Repose\” (don't know if I spelled the correctly.) Enchantment with the little people. And of course loved the Hobbit as do my kids. All is not lost. Yesterday was \”Celtic\” all day for us here in the Inland Northwest in a workshop on the Sacred Art of Living, featuring the \”Anamcara\” (soul friend) of celtic origin. etc etc. etc.nice post Rev. Country Parson. kraff

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