Christianity was supposed to be about becoming like Jesus. We went in the wrong direction.
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Magical Thinking


This particular form of reality denial captures some of where society has come to. For example, the attractiveness of Communism is the assertion that everyone can have everything all the time. Similar to killing the goose for the golden eggs inside, attempts to realize what is not real tend to be disappointing. In the song “Post world war two blues” the lines “Sgt. Pepper seemed real to me” and “songs and poems were all you needed”, reflect some of the delusion that people can accept as an alternate reality.

From Harry Potter to Peter Parker and an almost endless series of stories of magical transformations and miraculous solutions to exaggerated problems have left an imprint on many such that whatever they imagine can be real. The exceptionally high suicide rate among transsexuals also speaks to the consequences of indulging magical thinking. As children are even more vulnerable to the influence of imagination, they can become addicted to the pleasurable sensations that can be generated by contemplating a magical existence.

Perhaps less considered are the results of a less intense form of magical thinking. For example, not believing that there is a God is one form of denying reality. These would usually say that they are embracing reality because they see God as imaginary. However, there are pleasurable sensations to be obtained from thinking one is the most evolved being in the universe.

Magical thinking can be a good way to see the larger problem of a life lived for pleasure. For the last fifty years our society has turned from truth to what feels good as the primary driving social force. As a result, we have gone deeper into debt, printed more money so that what we have is worth less, think we can control climate, end hunger and poverty, and kill children without consequence..

One can see examples of magical thinking with the Pharisees (they sought positions of honor, were self-righteous, even cheated people). If one starts with a pleasant assumption (that God should be grateful I am on his side, Luke 18:11-12), one can justify all sorts of evil (John 8:44). The basic problem is that delusion feels better than truth. Just as neglected reality tends to bring the drug addict to ruin, those who pleasure themselves with magical thinking also find neglected reality can bring consequences. For the Pharisees, the consequences were to be eternal (Matt 7:22-23)

The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was also a stoic philosopher whose administration was marked by pragmatism. His son Commodus might be seen as one who plunged into magical thinking that can be seen with his neglect of administration, and indulgence in mass entertainments even declaring himself the new Romulus and portraying himself as Hercules. He was assassinated by those he intended to have killed.

While magical thinking is not new, it does show the critical importance of truth and that the Christian can benefit from avoiding it entirely. One key element to avoid being drawn into magical thinking is to value truth even when it would feel good to do otherwise. Mastery of one’s emotions is crucial to being able to walk by truth.



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