I've been thinking, lately, about the "magical" elements of Christianity. And lo, in an article in the Jewish Review of Books ("It's not just for Jews anymore!"), I read this:
To put it crudely, if Christianity is a fantasy religion, then Judaism is a science fiction religion. If the former is individualistic, magical, and salvationist, the latter is collective, technical, and this-worldly.The article, incidentally, was quite interesting; it asks, and attempts to answer, why there have been no great Jewish fantasy writers. But I digress: I'm wondering about the characterization of Christianity as "magical", which, I think, is not inaccurate. There are certainly elements of the religion that defy any sort of conventional logic (viz., transubstantiation, parthenogenesis, trinitarianism, &c.). In recent centuries, various sects have attempted to excise those elements that have proven increasingly baffling to modern man. The end result of this process is, I suppose, Unitarianism. My favorite Unitarian joke, if you must know, is this:
Q: How do you get a Unitarian family to leave town?Last night while I was trying to fall asleep it occurred to me that, should one remove all the "magical" elements of Christianity, one is left without any sort of physical manifestation of the Divine whatsoëver. The Real Presence in the Eucharist? Out. The Incarnation? Nope. Miracles? Well, of course not. A de-magicized Christianity is, in fact, a good deal more "spiritual" and a lot less material.
A: Burn a question mark in their front yard.
Here I shall make an argumentum ad verecundiam: Wendell Berry says we need to be a good deal more cognizant that we are creatures of matter, so it must be true. (The implications of this are fodder for a great many other posts, but I shan't delve into that here.) I wonder, however, how a Unitarian, or a Jeffersonian agnostic, or certain Episcopalians, can back up this sentiment without recourse to that absurd idea that matter itself has been made divine.
Any thoughts? I suppose I'm a bit out of my depth here, both theologically and philosophically.