One of my favorite quotes from one of the most explosive chapters of any book of any author I have ever read.
“We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next-door neighbour. Hence he comes to us clad in all the careless terrors of nature; he is as strange as the stars, as reckless and indifferent as the rain. He is Man, the most terrible of the beasts. That is why the old religions and the old scriptural language showed so sharp a wisdom when they spoke, not of one’s duty towards humanity, but one’s duty towards one’s neighbour. The duty towards humanity may often take the form of some choice which is personal or even pleasurable. That duty may be a hobby; it may even be a dissipation… But we have to love our neighbour because he is there– a much more alarming reason for a much more serious operation. He is the sample of humanity which is actually given us. Precisely because he may be anybody he is everybody. He is a symbol because he is an accident.” – G.K. Chesterton, http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/heretics/ch14.html
I have encountered a few discussions lately around the differences between the magic of a book like “Harry Potter” and that of “Lord of the Rings”. I am not a huge detractor of the Potter craze (except on literary grounds), but I think it is important for us be able to explain why our classics of Christian literature are just that.
On the subject of magic, here is a great quote from Tolkien distinguishing different types.
“…a magic of external plans or devices (apparatus) instead of development of the inherent inner powers of talents…bulldozing the real world, or coercing other wills. The Machine is our more obvious form…I have not used “magic” consistently, and indeed the Elven-queen Galadriel is obliged to remonstrate with the Hobbits on their confused use of the word both for the devices and operations of the Enemy , and for those of the Elves…the Elves are there (in my tales) to demonstrate the difference. Their “magic” is Art… And its object is Art not Power, sub-creation, not domination and tyrannous re-forming of Creation”(Letters, no. 131,p.146)
Great quote. Much more to come on this topic.