Magic (or Heroes: Part 2)

An Essay By I am Nate-Dude // 5/21/2012

The battle field lies on a barren, rocky plain. Before my army lies the menacing Black Gate. Orcs and evil men pour through it. Should they survive the shower of arrows from my archers, swords men cut them down. The great wizard Gandalf the White stands at the front, along with Aragorn, king of Gondor, Gimlie the dwarf, Legolas the elf, Marry and Pippen of the Shire, Captain Faramir, and the King of Rohon, Eomer. They fell orc after orc, but Mordor is empting, and they face and army tens of ten thousand strong. In a last effort to by time, Gandalf yells something in a long forgotten language. Blue energy swirls around him and is released in a blinding blast of beautiful light. Orcs fly everywhere, cave trolls are knocked of their feet, and Mumakil crumble to their knees. The forces of good regroup for the last stand. The forces of Mordor, while stunned, are not wavered. Every orc that is slain is replaced by two. As Mordor is about to strike the final blow, a boom is heard in the distance. Barad Dur crumbles and Saroun is defeated. The cowardly orcs squeal and run. Middle Earth is saved and darkness flees.
That is what goes on in my spare time. I get on my computer and play a video game called The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth. The point I am trying to make in the paragraph above is simply this: Gandalf rocks (epically at rank 10 when he has the “word of power” thing that kills thousands of orcs)! Why did I waste about 30 or so seconds of your time to make such rather obvious point? Well, actually, it’s only obvious if you like L-of-the-R. But why did I make that point? Read on….
If you’ve read my essay with the humorous title “Heroes are Heroic (Except When They’re Not)” you may recall me mentioning that magic is evil, there are no good wizards, Gandalf is bad, and so is that goggled eyed kid with the lightning bolt on his forehead, bluh, bluh, bluh.
“Moving on to a hero that everyone loves: Gandalf! Why do I bring up the gray/white wizard? Well, because he is a wizard. People loath me when I bring this up. Magic is evil. Pure and simple. Bottom line. Gandalf is a sorcerer, which makes him bad. Sorry. It is the same thing with Harry Potter, Eragon, and yes even Yoda. I’m not saying that we toss Gandalf, Yoda, or Eragon. However, we must keep this issue in mind when watching Star Wars or Lord of the Rings.”
Now you guys came back fast and hard with many excellent arguments. However, while you all did an outstanding job at sound far smarter than me (which you guys may very well be) I still believe many of you were wrong. Here are some of the things you guys wrote back. I hope its okay that I’ve kept these comments anonymous:
“I’m pretty sure magic is only wrong when humans perform it. In that passage wizard is a translation word; Gandalf as a wizard (Istari) is actually a separate species from human. For instance, characters in the Narnia books use magic, but whenever the human children try it bad things happen (Lucy and the magic book, for instance). Wizard doesn't=evil; humans using magic=evil.”
“A letter by Tolkien (I can't remember the number, but' it's the prelude to The SIlmarillion) says that the magic of the Elves is art, and the magic of Sauron is power for sheer dominance. In either case, it is not practiced by humans.”
Firstly, I realize that The Lord of the Rings and (to some extent) The Chronicles of Narnia are works of fiction and entertainment. Seriously though, where does the BIBLE (we are looking at this from a Biblical perspective) say that magic is only bad if humans do it? Nowhere! Do you really think God is going to have Moses write “Magic is only permissible when preformed by an Istari”? Also, using the same argument that magic is only bad when preformed by humans, wouldn’t that apply to other things? Such as: stealing, lying, murdering, and so on? Is it okay for Gandalf to do those things?
If you’re getting mad at me, which people sometimes do, just hang in there! Remember: I’m a Lord of the Rings fan. I like Narnia. Gandalf rocks (epically at rank 10 when he has the “word of power” thing that kills thousands of orcs)! Moving on….
“ A lot of these comments are very thought-provoking. I feel compelled to say that Gandolf is generally held to be a representation of the Holy Spirit. In cases like this, the word magic is sometimes just a word. I agree with some of the other commenters. Magic in reality is evil. Yes. This is true. Witchcraft is evil. But the word magic is often used for simply a force, a manipulation of science, or other things that we can't understand. It's true that witchcraft is evil in reality.”
Did you know that J.R.R. Tolkien hated to think of his work as an allegory? Yes, it is true, some people do like to make Gandalf a representation of Christ, but he is not. And it really wouldn’t matter even if he was. Also do you know what the Noah Webster Dictionary defines as magic? Magic is “a manipulation of science” to paraphrase. Oh, before we go on you must keep in mind that Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were humans capable of sin. They weren’t perfect. They could, and they did, make mistakes, just like me….
“One of my biggest concerns about Harry Potter, for instance, is this: Will everyone understand that these things are not real? Young children, especially? These things are often allegorical. They do not portray reality. Could that be dangerous for some? Yes, I think so. I have heard that witchcraft schools grew after Harry Potter. People saw Harry and set out to learn the real thing. But for many, for those who understand that the word magic is often used to describe things that aren't witchcraft, but other things, the simple use of the word isn't a huge deal. At least for me.”
Actually the ugly truth is that these things are much, much more real then we think, but I know what you mean. Yes, young kids, please understand that in the real world Harry isn’t the guy in the book or on TV. In real life he’s in league with the demons (I’m drop dead serious).
This is a great conversation. I, too, think that people should be careful and on-guard in regards to these things. Thanks for a great post! I agree: we should keep things in perspective.”
Good way to end a comment. I agree. For those of you who are still trying to piece together my choppy mass of an essay here is the point: I love Lord of the Rings, and all those other fantasy stories, but there are problem with them. That okay as long as we remember that these things are not acceptable in the real world. Thankfully you guys already seem to understand that, but some people don’t. One of you guys said on Heroes are Heroic “Amazing essay--great job and I totally agree. Now that's not to say that I'm going to give up my Gandalf poster, but...LOL. Wonderful thoughts.”
That made me happy. And let me just say, they have some nice Gandalf posters out there. My cousin had a really old ugly one of Gandalf and Aragorn storming the Black Gate, but it wasn’t a movie poster so we shot with air-soft guns until my Aunt made us stop. It hasn’t left that wall yet, and it now I really like it hole and all. Hey, maybe I’ll even put up a picture of it for my profile.


I have to agree with you.

I remember when I read you first essay, and the whole time I was thinking, "Yes! yes! This is right on!"

There is one point at which I disagree. It is this: that Gandalf having the power that he does is a bad thing. The other instanced like in Harry Potter is evil. How are these different? Well let me explain. I won't use the different race card. I very much dislike the way the elves are able to use magic. I don't care if J. R. R. Tolkien said that magis of the Elves is an art. That doesn't change the fact that it's magic. Just because I say that the lying of sertain people is an art of thiers, doesn't change the fact that that lying is sinful. Not at all. Back to the subject; Gandalf's form of power isn't bad. Just like the power that the angels have is not bad. You see Gandalf is sort of an angel. He is an Istari, a lower Valar, who was sent across from the West to Middle Earth. He is basically an angel. That is why when Gandalf died from fighting with the belrog, he was sent back to Middle Earth because his job had not been finished.

There it is, my arguement. I hope that I have changed your mind about Gandalf; that in your mind he will be "epically at rank 11 when he has the “word of power” thing that kills thousands of orcs"

This whole arguement is not for the fact that you should put magic in fiction. I actually am against it, but thats another conversation...

Arthur | Sat, 08/04/2012

"My greatest wish for my writing is that it would point you to the Savior."

I would add that while

I would add that while Tolkien uses the word 'magic,' he says in multiple instances (Unfinished Tales, also Galadriel says it to the hobbits), that magic is our word for it, but it isn't.
Jesus' miracles weren't magic, since the power to do them was a part of being God. That's kind of how I see Gandalf and the Elves' "magic." Gandalf's powers were given to him by Iluvatar, by God. Also, Tolkien uses the word 'wizard' in the sense we use it when we say 'math wizard,' and the like. He says this somewhere; I can't remember the exact reference.
The elves' magic or arts or whatever you will call them aren't conjured up but are part of being Elf (for example, a prophet telling the future was not magic, as it was a gift of being a prophet, though at times they may look the same - like Moses and the magicians in Egypt).
That's the way I've come to see it with my understanding of it, and why I don't have the same problems with Lord of the Rings as I do with Harry Potter, Eragon, and parts of Narnia. I agree that witchcraft and magic is bad and can never be good (like pirates!), no matter who does it in what world, but my disagreement would be that what Tolkien put in Lord of the Rings or what Lewis calls deeper magic is the same as witchcraft, necromancy, and divination. We use the word magic in different ways - there are magic tricks and "magical" moments (and I use the word that way often, like the pause between the end of a musical piece and the clapping, or the breathtaking moment when you first lie back and see a sky full of stars), and then there's witchcraft.

Kyleigh | Sat, 08/04/2012

Very well said.

Hey, guys thanks for reading and commenting. I have not been on AP for months so this made my day. You guys make very good points!

I am Nate-Dude | Sun, 08/05/2012