Thursday, December 14, 2006

Monokroussos on Lewis and the occult

Finally, a thought about your posted link on CSL as the gateway to witchcraft. There’s plenty that’s ridiculous and objectionable about that particular page, but I’m not convinced the general concern is unconditionally crazy. I’ve read that interest in the occult and Wicca spiked when “Bewitched” was on TV (yes, correlation doesn’t prove causality, I know), and I think the same has occurred in the Harry Potter era. To the extent that CSL’s work is seen as an instance of that genre, it might help funnel some who wouldn’t otherwise go that route into an interest in the occult.

Must it? Obviously not, and I suspect that it happens pretty rarely. But I suspect it’s like drinking alcohol, trying cigarettes when young and smoking pot. Sometimes those activities lead to horrible outcomes – becoming an alcoholic, a smoker and a user of more serious drugs – but usually not. In those cases, the worry is serious enough that we try to steer kids clear of those dangers in various ways. Is there a difference that makes the website’s concern ludicrous? Is it that the link is more tenuous? That the Christian-ish aspects of the Narnia works are more likely to predominate?

I’m not really trying to defend that site, I don’t think there’s any causal link between CSL’s and JRRT’s work and the occult, and I think that on balance their works are far more likely to lead to positive effects than negatives ones. It’s also a mistake to proscribe good things because they could lead to bad results. I’m just suggesting that their concern isn’t either goofy or necessarily even trivial.



Blue Devil Knight said...

Who cares if it does? Most Wiccans I know are very gentle kind people. I don't think kids getting into the occult or witchcraft is comparable to using drugs.

Jason Pratt said...

Well, among other people, Richard Dawkins and his various allies would seem to care pretty strenuously about kids getting into the occult or witchcraft (Wiccan varieties or otherwise), in principle. {g} Wasn't there someone here on the boards just a day or two ago who fulminated about how we need to recognize that 'religion' is the only great evil?

(Besides which, even the Wiccans recognize there are variations of this sort of thing that they themselves strongly disapprove of.)

The Uncredible Hallq said...

Maybe I over-estimate the rationality of how people come by various beliefs, but I have a hard time seeing Lewis, Tolkein, Harry Potter, or Bewitched causing anyone to embrace a belief in the occult. They're obvious fantasy. More worrisome are shows that play with things people really believe--like the show "Medium," to take a recent example. (Skeptico recently did a nice TV vs. reality comparison.)

But no matter what exactly we're dealing with, I cannot find much sympathy for Christians who flip out because they see all positions other than their own as "as ultimately dangerous as anything can be." My attitude towards the occult is we should offer up education for those who'll take it. For those who won't listen to reason, I'm perfectly happy to leave thtem alone in many cases, though when it comes to defrauding the sick and preying on grieving families we ought to raise hell.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Bilbo: it was a rhetorical question, which in retrospect is a literary device mooted in the blogosphere.