I learned something important last night about magic. There are two different kinds of magic: incantational magic and the other kind. Incantational magic was the stuff that Wiz Zumwald, Gandalf, and various Shakespearean magic-users performed. Think of Larry Niven's magic-goes-away notions that there's some kind of magical machinery that the magician can grab the levers of and turn to his will. You know, stuff like F=ma. Oops, I'm getting ahead of myself. You see, I don't believe in magic. Even the magical incantations that have familiar names, like the Sinner's Prayer.
So, I was listening to The White Horse Inn discussion of whether a Christian should let his kids read Harry Potter or not. You know, Harry Potter is a warlock and he hangs with witches and that sounds pretty unChristian on the surface at least. The guy said that Harry does stuff similar to the medieval alchemists and that's a lot different from calling upon the devil or demons or principalities or powers to get magic stuff done. Instead he says "hoc est corpus" or hocus-pocus or somesuch and a miracle happens.
This invoking of demons business got me thinking, "Yeah, that's significant."
Which brings us to Aladdin. Whereas Harry Potter is rightly rooted in some deep anglo-saxon soil what's going on with that cute blueberry colored guy in the lamp? First, you've got Aladdin, a theif. He's not an algebrist or an algorithm developer or any of the other productive vocations Arabic people pursued. Instead, he is a representative of one of the worst aspects of Arabic culture: it's disrespect for private property and the integrity of ownership. He steals a lamp containing a genie.
Now, I always thought Barabara Eden was cuter than Elizabeth Montgomery, but then I never knew exactly what a "genie" or djinn was.
It's some foreign word who's referent means what? I asked Dr. Webster just now and he said, "one of a class of spirits that according to Muslim demonology." Generally, when a spirit is described by someone's DEMONOLOGY that indicates the spirit is a member of the set of demons. Hmmm, looks like Ms. Eden was covering up more than just her navel. This makes me laugh. My sainted mom HATED "Bewitched" and fairly enjoyed "I Dream of Jeannie" because she thought the first consorted with the devil and the second was harmless fun.
This brings us back to what a Christian should do about all this? I never heard of Fundamentalist boycots and protests against the Aladdin movie about the Muslim demon and his master whose profession involves breaking the 8th commandment. But that sort of magic is a lot worse than incantational magic. Thus there should be no problem with Harry Potter.
On the other hand, now I have another reason to find Robin Williams annoying.