The Magic of Belief

In my ongoing interest in getting a handle on religious faith and practices I’ve been researching the concept of transubstantiation. It appears church fathers have debated the idea of the magical change from wine and bread to blood and flesh for centuries in an attempt to convey legitimacy to the literal acceptance of Biblical metonymy. There have been council’s discussions and disagreements as to what Jesus actually meant when he told the disciples, “this is my blood”, etc. Since he was standing there holding a glass of wine and wasn’t apparently bleeding makes me wonder what all the uproar has been about after all this time.

I guess the acceptance of magic is key in such a debate. You know, all things are possible with God. The issue as well as many other doctrinal beliefs appears to depend on just such a faithful acceptance, which pretty much leaves logical understanding out in the cold.

Not that all that is, or could be, should necessarily fall within the bounds of my understanding. I do appreciate a regular dose of curiosity and wonder at the workings of the natural world and the people in it. There will, I’m sure, always be experiences beyond my conceptual abilities. But I do have to wonder if too much belief in magic might not be a bad thing for humankind after all. You know, if it relieves people from the responsibility of trying to understand and do something about the multitude of problems in the world, which, I fear, will be the case for those magical thinkers looking forward to a next life.

But, I suppose most people temper their acceptance of magical occurrences beyond the fantasies they tell themselves, the soundness of lottery participation, that the stranger on the phone isn’t going to ask for money. Nevertheless, it does appear self-deception may be the one commonality we all share.

administering the eucharist


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