School of Darkness — Or How I Discovered That I Was Wrong About Everything!

I keep talking about this book, so–for today’s Thursday Throwback–here is my write up of School of Darkness by Bella Dodd, a book I learned about on a Superversive SF Chat.

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On a recent Superversive SF, Peter Bradley recommended a book called School of Darkness by Bella Dodd, a woman who had been active in the Communist party in the 30s through 50s, before returning to the Catholic Church.

School of Darkness

I grew up in New York. My father came from the Bronx. My mental image of Labor Unions was quite a rosy one. I had been told that businessmen were greedy. Working conditions were terrible. Workers spontaneously rose up, of their own accord, and demanded better conditions. This worked.

Halleluiah!

I knew people who thought modern Labor Unions were corrupt, but I thought that, if true, it was something that had happened once they were no longer really needed.

In high school, one of the most chilling things I learned about was the Red Scare in Hollywood. I had a mental picture of Communists sympathizers as sweet helpful souls who wanted to help the less fortunate. I figured artists and actors are often taken in by such things, and thought that the blacklisting of Communists in Hollywood was one of the most terrifying things I had heard of…because I saw myself likely to be part of the blacklisted group.

Because I thought that the actors were just innocent dupes, I figured the other people targeted by the Senate UnAmerican Activities Committee were probably equally innocent or unimportant.

After all, it did not say otherwise in anything I read in school.

Later, I heard that when the KGB opened their documents, the people called before the Senate UnAmerican Activities Committee were actually Communist Party members, many in the pay of the Soviets—actually working for the downfall of America.

I guess, at some level, I had not actually believed it. Or I had pictured them as ineffective intellectuals with glasses sitting around a table somewhere discussing politics and accomplishing nothing.

When I thought of the Communist Party, I pictured, basically, the Libertarian Party. A small party of idealistic intellectuals, devoted to a cause on principle and tirelessly working toward it despite very little success.

I could not have been more wrong.

Bella Dodd was an Italian-born American (she was an American accidentally born in Italy, who grew up there until she was about six,) who went on to become a teacher. Influenced by the young free thinking teacher at her college (who later committed suicide, so empty was her life), Bella became interested in labor rights and was targeted by the Communists.

To my utter astonishment, at that time, the Communists were a huge, well-organized group with fingers in every single pie.

Because they had many of their members stay secret, not reveal that they were actually Communists, they could be members of every group. They formed Fragments, as I think they called them, in every political party, every labor union. Because if this they knew what all the different parties and groups were up to, and could organized coordinated attacks to get their policies across.

In the various teachers unions, their main goal was getting schools to 1) accept federal aid and 2) emphasize separation of church and state.

They had as an avowed goal: designing public schools so as to break up the family and make the children idea future Communists.

The Communists attacked the Church, demonized it, and tried to separate workers from their priests at every turn. Bella saw this over and over and gave some examples. She also admitted to helping over 1,100 communists get into the Roman Catholic Church, with plans to alter and destroy it from within.

They also attacked race harmony in America. Word came from the Soviet Union that America’s racial peace and its morality were its strength, so these things had to be destroyed.

All these things, these things we all complain about but think is just ‘part of life’, this highly-organized, secret group were deliberately attempting to orchestrate.

And they were really clever at it. Whenever anyone came up with a logical argument to make the bad thing sound like the moral high ground, they quickly shared it. Suddenly, that argument was the accepted view.

Here is another person, Mallory Millet,  on the same subject.

http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/240037/marxist-feminisms-ruined-lives-mallory-millett

It was 1969. Kate invited me to join her for a gathering at the home of her friend, Lila Karp. They called the assemblage a “consciousness-raising-group,” a typical communist exercise, something practiced in Maoist China.  We gathered at a large table as the chairperson opened the meeting with a back-and-forth recitation, like a Litany, a type of prayer done in Catholic Church. But now it was Marxism, the Church of the Left, mimicking religious practice:

“Why are we here today?” she asked.
“To make revolution,” they answered.
“What kind of revolution?” she replied.
“The Cultural Revolution,” they chanted.
“And how do we make Cultural Revolution?” she demanded.
“By destroying the American family!” they answered.
“How do we destroy the family?” she came back.
“By destroying the American Patriarch,” they cried exuberantly.
“And how do we destroy the American Patriarch?” she replied.
“By taking away his power!”
“How do we do that?”
“By destroying monogamy!” they shouted.
“How can we destroy monogamy?”

Their answer left me dumbstruck, breathless, disbelieving my ears.  Was I on planet earth?  Who were these people?

“By promoting promiscuity, eroticism, prostitution and homosexuality!” they resounded.

Of course, that failed. We haven’t seen any increase in any of those things…

But back to School of Darkness:

Many, many young people flocked to the Communist Party, because they were idealistic and wanted to help their fellow man. They were impressed by the idealism and lack of material goods of many of the inner circle members.

BUT…their goal was revolution. They thought that the Capitalist system had to be overthrown, so that the new better system could come, through violent war.

Everything they did was intended to disrupt America, to destabilize it, to break up the peace and cause discontent.

They caused strikes or lengthened them. They urged workers to join labor unions. American workers were fairly content. Their wages were rising. The Communists had to use propaganda to convince them they were unhappy.

And, boy, did they!

People all over the media and advertising were secretly Communists. They decided how America would see a whole series of things, starting with the idea that fascists and communists are opposites, when both sides were controlled by the same organization. During the Soviet-run Spanish Civil War, they spun the whole thing to make the Church look bad and the rebels look good.

And, they all…this entire movement, took all their orders directly from Moscow, and the moment Moscow said “Jump.” They jumped.

They courted the rich, and money poured into their coffers.

They courted the young and used them up. Bella reported that young people would come into the movement and pour their whole life into the cause in a desire to make the world a better place. The Party would encourage them, use them up, and spend their lives, without much concern for any of them.

Bella Dodd

Bella discovered that the same highly-organized group who put the Communists into power in Russia also helped support Hitler. At one period, during WWII but before Yalta and Bretton Woods, the Communists were told to make peace between the factions.

And, boy, were they effective!

They had a finger in every pie! They stopped all strikes, got the different unions and parties to work together. They had enough control in enough places that they became the go to power to get things done.

But then orders came from Moscow to go back to pushing revolution and business as usual.

This was where it all started to fall apart. These orders included turning on the man who had been running the party all this time in America. He was not necessarily a good man, he had had people beaten and killed, but he was organized and effective. After he was forced out, it began fracturing.

It wasn’t too much longer until Bella, who was a person who spoke up against some of their more foolish actions, was forced out, too.

She remained a long and lost for some time, her husband had left and her parents had died during her quest for Communism.

Eventually, however, she met Bishop Fulton Sheen and found her way back to the Catholic Church.

At the end, do you know what they did, even back then, to throw her out of the party? They called her a racist. They spread about that she was “against the Negro”. Considering that she had spent years living in Harlem among people of all nations and advocating for them, this was the worst blow to her.

It was eerie to see them doing then the exact same thing that crybullies do now: call people racists when they are not racists.

Every time I see this happen—the internet hoards descend on someone and call them out as a racist, someone who is not a racist, I think of all the real racists in the world. I think two things:

One, I think of the story of the man who is looking for a quarter under a street light, instead of where he dropped it, because the light is better under the lamp. They go for the easy targets.

The other is the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf. Every time anyone attacks a fake racist, they open the door a little farther for the real racists. Because, already, I notice people who have reached the point that they just shrug and turn away at the cry of “racist,” because, in their experience, it is always a lie.
The more people realize that “racist” is just a pejorative for “we hate you,” the more they ignore it.

Which means that the real racists—and there are real racists out there—when they come will be ignored and will get away with much more than they could have in a sane society.

The most horrible part of all, to me, is that this is not a new book. Not at all. In fact, it was written ten years before I was born.

Which means, my whole life, I could have known all this…but I did not.

In case you wish to listen to Bella Dodd speaking:

Comments

 

No, really, why AM I superversive?

One may – or may not – be surprised to know that despite being a part of the superversive team, I have a reputation in my family as a curmudgeon. In “real life”, distinct from my writing here and other places, I am quite cynical. I tend to believe that bad news is far more likely than good; as a Catholic, like Tolkien, I believe we’re in for the long defeat.

It was my sister who posed the question to me. I don’t remember the context, but I was complaining about something or other when she looked at me and said “Why are you even part of Superversive SF, anyway”?

It’s a great question, and the answer is somewhat personal. You see, I have a secret.

A BIG secret. It’s one I really don’t like to admit out loud. But here it is:

I’m not really a cynic. I’m actually a romantic. Deep down, I believe in true love, happy endings, heroism, and miracles. Or rather, I want to believe in them. I want desperately to believe they’re true.

Of course, out here in real life, we’re living in the enemy’s world. So those things don’t happen as often as they should. But they DO happen…and more importantly, they SHOULD happen. And I don’t mean that in a pathetic way, either, like it’s a fool’s dream and I’m just not willing to face reality. I mean that the world was literally created to be better than this.

And I think that in fiction, the most powerful stories are the ones that recognize we live in this horrible, messed up, dangerous world…and that we’re destined for something better. That humanity can be better. That yes, things suck, but we have the ability to rise up and change – to live for something greater than ourselves.

And that’s the heart of superversive SF, right? That we’re out here hoping and praying and living and dying not for ourselves, but for something higher and better than us.

In a world that is often terrible and depressing we need to be reminded sometimes that there’s hope. We need to remember that hope is just as real and just as important – maybe even more important – than all of those terrible things, and that we fools who strive to be better do not strive in vain.

And we go back around again to square one. Why am I, a cynical curmudgeon who complains about things all the time and picks petty fights with people for no good reason, a member of the superversive fiction movement?

Maybe it’s because guys like me need superversion most of all.

Attack of the Witch King

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John C Wright posted an article called The Last Crusade: In the Kingdom of Witches, part of his series on what’s wrong with Western Civilization. The usual crowd of nutcases, hysterical harpies, and idiots — usually known as simply “social media.” —  had only one takeaway from this: “WRIGHT BELIEVES IN WITCHES! HE THINKS THEY’RE TRYING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!!!”

At the very least, they’re consistent: they’ve once more missed the point.

In order to help social media grasp the obvious, I have taken it upon myself to translate this great essay into small words. After all, this must be understood by small people.

The following, strange as it might seem, contains spoilers for my own books series, Love at First Bite.

The far left of the twentieth century was always a religion. The far Left bases most of their beliefs boilerplate socialism. Since the Russian revolution took  a lot from the French revolution, there is a lot of blood as part of the Leftist faith, and a lot of anti-theist secularism.

Leftism has kept up this tradition, perhaps even better than the Soviet Union ever did. Communism killed a hundred million people in the last century, over the course of 70 years.

Just to highlight this one more time. That’s a hundred million. 100,000,000 dead.

In the United States, we’re up to, what, fifty million aborted children and counting?  Over the course of less than fifty years? We keep that up, abortion will have wiped out more people than Communism along the same amount of time. That’s not even counting the numbers in other countries around the world.

The funny thing about the Soviet Union is that they actually went out of their way to eliminate free love moments. Even the USSR, with all of their butchery and violence, knew that the traditional family structure, and having children, was vital to a nation.

Leftists today haven’t even learned that lesson. Isn’t that sad?

But the Leftists of today have decided that abortion is a “right” — one that supersedes the freedom of religion (such as Catholic hospitals being forced to perform them), freedom of speech (holding a placard advocating prayer or adoption is banned within X-feet of an abortionist), and basic standards of operating theater cleanliness.

What does one call a group who are hip deep in blood and want to go deep sea diving in even more blood? “Witches” is a good summary, don’t you think?

But Wright wants to go deeper.

the essential nature of a witch, as she was portrayed in fairy tales (which contain a good deal more sense than newspapers) was of a withered, childless spinster: a woman with nothing to offer the community, but whom age and curiosity had opened the secret properties of plants and stars and other things easily turned to venom.

Welcome to Leftism. The motto seems to be “let’s take anything good and pure” and turn it toxic.

After all, Maleficent cannot be an evil psychotic killer who will take deadly retribution over minor slights; she must be rewritten with a backstory to make her the heroine.

Gaston and his henchman cannot be Alpha and lackey in the latest Beauty and the Beast film — there must now be a homosexual component.

Don’t even get me started on those who framed Samwise and Frodo’s relationship as gay. Or Holmes and Watson. Or Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe. Or Bert and Ernie. Because good, pure, simple friendships can’t exist in their world, it must be sexual, because sex is everything, right? I haven’t seen Lord Peter Wimsey and Bunter yet, but give it time, I’m sure.

Should we even discuss the freaks on parade as of late? I refuse to call them Civil Rights protesters — sorry, that’s Martin Luther King leading a parade of people wearing their Sunday finest who just wanted to join the main stream. And be it the Occupy rioters living like animals and defecating in the streets and businesses of New York, or the “womyn” in gynecological garb wandering around in January 2017, these people very clearly don’t like “mainstream.” They want the mainstream to accept THEM, condone, bless, and accept whatever the BS du jour is. They don’t seem to want simple toleration, since “toleration” means to put up with something abhorrent to you. Apathy is not allowed — you will be made to care. You will be made to accept and bless it, and kneel before whatever bull is being force fed you, the culture, and there are lawyers for those who won’t bow down. Just try to be a Christian baker and tell me how that works for you.

And no, for those snickering twits on the internet, there isn’t a mystical, black-helicopter “they.” They’re in plain sight, after all. Marching in the circus garb they call “a statement,” when it’s really more like a thousand clowns.

Witches subvert. Witches turn things that are good and pure into poison. They turn children into child sacrifice. They turn the anti-abortion feminism of Susan B. Anthony into genitalia on parade. They turn Christian Charity into entitlement programs to buy votes. They promise a great society and deliver a broken culture and destroyed families.

Leftism has its own altars in the abortion clinic, and its own sacrifices called children. They have their own public displays of faith called riots, only disguised as “protests.”

Leftism. Witchcraft. Subversion. Alinsky. Same Stuff, Different Decade.

No Genre Purity Tests!

I want to make my position on genre and its blurring and all of that more clear.

I’ll refer to hard sci-fi and soft sci-fi and fantasy and science fiction and books and movies that blur genres. I’ll cheerfully refer to something as a fantasy with sci-fi trappings or something that acts like hard SF but is really squishy soft (*cough* Star Trek *cough*).

But maybe people get the wrong impression from this. This is all an interesting academic exercise to me, really. It’s not a value judgment. “Star Wars” is squishy soft sci-fi, yes. It’s so soft that many argue it’s a fantasy in sci-fi trappings, which I can get behind.

And “The Empire Strikes Back” is still a better movie than “The Martian”, and I am a huge fan of  “The Martian”. “A Wrinkle in Time” is still a better book than “I, Robot” or “Starship Troopers”, and I love all three of those books.

Not being hard sci-fi really, really isn’t a mark of shame to me. It’s not anything. It’s just a classification into a category. It’s taxonomy. Some hard SF sucks. Some soft sci-fi sucks. Some fantasy sucks. And some of all of those things is awesome. It’s just the way it is.

So when people ask me “Why are you so concerned about genres, then?” my response is really “Well I’m not!”. But other people sure seem to be. In fact, you know who seems to be the most concerned about genre?

The pulp revolution guys.

(Shots fired!)

And I get it. I really do. In the old pulp days, genres were mixed in ways that people don’t really think about today, what with our split between sci-fi and fantasy. And it’s good to get back to that.

But where I disagree in this case is that I believe the way to do that is NOT to deny sub-genres exist. That does nothing. It causes pointless arguments and – frankly – makes you look kind of silly when you start to claim things that are obviously real don’t exist (*cough cough*).

Because I’m seeing this: On one hand, it’s “Write what you want! Write what you want!”

And on the other hand it’s “But also, this particular sub-genre is inherently worse than this one and if you write it you’re limiting yourself. But, hey, write what you want!”

No. My philosophy is this:

Write what you want. But remember the Josh Young principle:

A good science fiction story will look upward, towards the stars and away from the self.

A bad science fiction story will fixate downward, towards the ground and focus on the self.

If we keep that in mind, the bigger issues surrounding all of this will correct themselves.

So what were we talking about again?

Amidst this discussion between Daddy Warpig and Jeffro there seems to be a lot of confusion. I’m going to attempt to clarify what, exactly, I’m trying to say and why.

Disclaimer: My views are NOT the official views of Superversive SF. I don’t even necessarily represent colleague Josh Young, though we probably overlap a lot. My views are mine, and mine alone.

Without further ado…

Where we agree:

  • Sci-fi writers from the 20’s and 30’s have disappeared down the memory hole. According to the pulp rev guys, this is John W. Campbell’s fault, along with his futurian buddies. I don’t know why, but I agree that it happened.
  • We should bring back the style of fiction common in that era – we’ll call it pulp as a shorthand.
  • It would be great if people started creating more pulp works – not necessarily because they have to, but because that style fell out of favor and it would be cool to see more of it.
  • There is an era of pre-Campbellian SF that is hugely disrespected by a large portion of readers, where many rumors and misconceptions abound. We should strive to correct those errors.
  • People shouldn’t be overly concerned about bending genres as long as doing so improves their story.

Where – it seems to me – we disagree:

  • Hard SF exists. This is so obvious it’s amazing we’re actually discussing it.
  • There is nothing wrong with hard SF, and nothing about it makes it inferior to other types of SF. The only problem with hard SF is when it is not superversive, or more accurately when it is entirely anti-superversive. Hard SF was created under people who weren’t superversive, so early work in this sub-genre is naturally not well representative of the sub-genre’s potential, but great strides have been made; besides the work of John C. Wright “The Martian” has a strong superversive streak and “Interstellar” is one of the most superversive movies ever.
  • Hard SF is not synonymous with science fiction. If this were true, then how come – as was often pointed out to me – hard SF never sold particularly well when other stuff did? Clearly people write stuff besides hard SF.
  • When Campbell and his writers brought hard SF to the fore, it naturally became a reference point for other works – how hard or soft is your work? This DOES NOT mean that only hard SF was considered real SF. That was never the case; hard SF was really only a popular sub-genre during a very brief point in history.
  • Isaac Asimov’s opposition to heroic fiction is repulsive, but his robot stuff, especially up to “The Caves of Steel”, rocked. Just sayin’.
  • There is nothing inherently wrong with books that involve smart men thinking their way out of difficult problems. It’s not a weakness in and of itself, just when done badly, like anything else. Agatha Christie, who built a career on smart men thinking their way out of difficult problems, is proof of this.
  • The biggest problem in science fiction and fantasy today is not lack of appreciation for pulps, but lack of the superversive.
  • The distinction between red and blue SF is not one based on quality, but personal preference. Red is not inherently superior to blue.
  • Yes, you think red is inherently superior to blue. Let’s not kid ourselves.

Does this make sense? I think this is fair.

Men With Screwdrivers and Men With Magnifying Glasses

In the spirit of moving the discussion off site and getting readers moving back and forth, I offer you Jeffro’s excellent review of A.E. Van Vogt’s “Black Destroyer”…and a comment on one of the main points of difference between the superversive movement vs. the pulp revolution movement (I said something similar in the comments to the post; this is an expansion).

From Jeffro:

The “hero” of the story isn’t really the Hari Seldon-like Elliot Grosvenor. Granted, the guy has a knack for navigating the tedious and byzantine bureaucracy that encysts almost any sufficiently complex STEM-related activity. But the real “star” here is Nexialism, a sort of meta-science that allows this guy to be way more insightful than the stodgy and blinkered scientists of his space collective.

I’m sure that this seemed like a really good idea at the time. And the resolution here is way more developed than the typical “reverse the polarity” and “re-route a phase inducer” tricks of science fiction television. But really smart guys thinking their ways out of difficult problems is only ever going to be just so compelling. Nevertheless, the heavy and the setting do manage to overcome this inherent weakness of the unrestrained Campbellian ethos.

Okay. Let’s pretend we’re not reading science fiction for a moment. What sort of fiction is made up mostly of “smart guys thinking their ways out of difficult problems?”

Anybody?

Give up yet?

Yeah. It’s detective fiction.

If you want to categorize more specifically here (like Campbellian vs. pulp sci-fi), we can talk about Agatha Christie style detective fiction (Sherlock Holmes stories were as much or more adventure tales as mysteries, though there were certainly “Men with magnifying glass” varieties of Sherlock Holmes as well – see “The Adventure of the Dancing Men”). Christie is famous/notorious for ending her mysteries by gathering all of the subjects in one room as her detective marches around and explains all of the clues you missed that point to the killer. Her most famous story and her masterpiece, “And Then There Were None”, has only the most lightly sketched characters, and the setting might as well be random. There is little to no action in the entire story. It is notable for one and only one thing: Its brilliant, mind-bogglingly ambitious, and incredibly shocking plot. And coming from a fan of that book – yes, it lives up to its promise. It’s a brilliant book. And if you take away the plot, there’s just about nothing to recommend it except maybe atmosphere, which Conan Doyle was better at anyway.

“Well,” sez pre-Christie-ites, “What character is more famous, huh? Sherlock Holmes, or Agatha Christie’s clone of Sherlock Holmes? Answer me that, smart guy!”

Sure, okay, you can make that argument. But you’ll also need to explain why Agatha Christie is the bestselling fiction author of all time* along with Shakespeare, and, by the way, ahead of J.K. Rowling.

So what is the point of all of this? I can hear the complaints now – “Wait, so you’re denying we have a problem? Didn’t you see the sales numbers? Are you denying that the pulp works have been shoved down a hole? Are you saying you don’t want to see a revival of pulp works? Do you just hate fun? Huh?”

(Okay, those last two are a bit over the top, but the others are variations of questions I’ve been asked virtually every time I disagree in some manner with one of the pulp revolutionaries.)

Well, no, I’m not saying any of those things. I’m just saying – be careful not to extrapolate personal taste into objective fact. What you might consider to be an Obviously Worse tic of a certain style of books may well be exactly what somebody else loves about it. Because apparently smart guys thinking their way out of difficult problems is something people do like to watch quite a bit after all.

Go figure.

*In case you were wondering, the highest rated sci-fi writer on the list is Stephen King, followed by R.L. Stine, Roald Dahl (of course he was a sci-fi writer; what else is “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”?), and then, yes, Edgar Rice Burroughs. The highest rated fantasist is Rowling, naturally.

Christian Magic

Thursday Throwback on Friday again, my apologies. Another from the annals of our Superversive Blog:

Subversive Literary Movement

lion-of-judah-1-2-1
Painting by Spencer Williams

In Part One, Deeper Magic From Before the Dawn of Time, I discussed the philosophy, the idea, of Christian Magic. In this second part, I want to give some practical examples.

First, the definition: Christian Magic is when objects or ideas from the Judeo-Christian tradition appear in the story as part of the magic. By magic here, I mean specifically “a mood of mystery and wonder,” and not “the occult” per se.

Also, I am differentiating between this use of Christian ideas and stories that have a pious nature. By pious, I mean a kind of assumption that Christian and holy things are good but everything else is bad. In case not everyone understands what I mean by the term pious, as applied to writing, here is an example from the work of fanfiction, Hogwarts School of Prayers and Miracles:

“Tell me how to get to this heaven place!” Harry cried wistfully, clapping his hands together. Sometimes the wisdom of the little ones is really amazing. We think we grownups know it all; but then God speaks through the mouths of little ones; and shows us how we are all mortals struggling along the path of life. Humility.

This is a superb example of what Christian Magic is not.

Pious stories do not feel magical. There is no mystery, no wonder. Instead, the basic assumption is that everyone (who matters) already agrees with the premise, so things “we” agree with are praised and everything else is trashed.

In stories of Christian Magic, on the other hand, the Christianity is introduced in the same mood and manner as the rest of the magic.

And now, some examples:

First, I will include, yet again, the quote from C. S. Lewis about deeper magic from before the dawn of time. Yes, we just read it in part one, but it’s that good…

It means that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.” (Aslan, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.)

At this point, perhaps you are asking, is there Christian Magic, outside of Narnia? The answer is yes—even if no one else does it quite so well.

An early example of Christian Magic comes from the book Dracula. We now think of it as par for the course that crosses drive back vampires. So much so, that many vampire stories have to take time to establish that crosses do not affect vampires, if they don’t want readers to assume they will. But when the matter came up in Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, it was new. (Or rather, it was an old folk lore idea brought to light in a new way.)

In Dracula, crucifixes, not crosses, drive back vampires—much to the dismay of the Protestant main characters. Holy wafers are also used to keep vampires at bay, and holy ground is considered important. These things are introduced into the story as if they are natural and part of the same background as the vampires, flocks of bats, and other elements of the story. They are not handled with hands wistfully clapped together or cooing over the amazing wisdom of the one who lays the holy wafers around the newly-risen vampire.

Holy ground also played into the movie Highlander, adding just a hint of Christian Magic there. ( By the TV show, holy ground was interpreted to mean any kind of holy ground—Indian burial grounds, etc., making it merely spiritual magic rather than Christian magic—but in the movie, the scenes involving holy ground were in churches.)

Another great example of Christian magic comes from The Dresden Files. This ongoing series includes such Christian elements as swords made from the nails of the cross, the cursed silver coins used to pay Judas for betraying Jesus, and the noose Judas used to hang himself. Also, I believe the latest book introduced the Spear of Longinus. The series also includes priests, churches whose holy ground protects from various evils, and angels.

Yet all these things are introduced in exactly the same mood as the vampires, fairies, talking skulls, fire magic, and the rest of the things that Harry Dresden encounters. The author weaves them all together so seamlessly and expertly that those who do not care for Christianity seldom object or possibly even notice.

But these elements are there.

Some readers even believe that Butcher is superversive–that the big bad Outside may turn out to be the devil and that Michael and Uriel will be proven right in the end. But the agnosticism of the character Harry allows the author to introduce these elements as easily as he introduces Odin or Temple Fu dogs. If he has a “true meaning”, it is not yet visible to his many adoring readers.

As a young person, I remember enjoying one of Katherine Kurtz Deryni books very much. I think it was Saint Camber. The thing I remember most was that this was the book where I first came upon the concept of wards. In particular, protective wards maintained by angels who were called to stand watch in the four directions. I still remember how amazed I was because it was the first time I had seen Christianity and magic portrayed as not inimitable to each other.

I had wanted to describe a great Christian Magic bit that comes up more than once in my husband’s new, up-coming novel, Somewhither. However, he tells me that this bit is a secret until it comes onstage in the story. So, after the book is published, I will write a post about it.

A few final examples:

I am sure there are many other great examples of Christian magic out there, but I cannot recall them off hand. I hope, dear readers, that, as you come upon hints of Christian Magic in the books you read, you will let me know. For now, however, we are reduced to examples from books that most of you probably have not read.

My apologies.

From Prospero In Hell.

In this scene, the King of all Djinn is burning a chamber holding holy relics collected over the years by the magician Prospero. One of the items is a wheel made by the carpenter, Joshua Ben Joseph. Caurus is one of Prospero’s airy servants.

A loud snapping-crackle behind me caused me to whirl about. The table in the Holy Chamber was aflame. To my horror, the tent made by St. Paul and St. Peter’s fishing net ignited. In a single instant, the fire consumed the two thousand-year-old relics that had once belonged to the most holy men who ever trod the Earth. Helpless, I saw the tongues of fire began licking the Savior’s wheel.

Unable to watch, I turned away and ran the rest of the distance to the Weapons Chamber. Behind me, to my great joy, I heard Caurus’s voice.

“Look!” he shouted, amazed, “The God of the Bloody Cross is more powerful than the Lord of Djinn!”

“Arrgghhh!” The cry of Iblis al-Shaitan shook the room, followed by a burst of heat worse than any that had come before. Caurus screamed. Turning again, I saw the Fire-King reeling back, clutching the simple cart wheel. No matter how he tried to burn it, the wood remained untouched.

(A brief aside, I have often wondered why we don’t hear more about wooden objects made by Jesus when he was a carpenter. Did they sell these, too, back in the middle ages when they were selling all those other relics?

Also, as proof that this is not a pious treatment of the material, in the next scene, they use that same wheel to hold down the top of the vessel in which they have trapped the djinn king. )

From Prospero In Hell

A fallen angel speaks of his memories of Heaven:

“Imagine you went to live in a house that looked a great deal like your father’s mansion, only nothing was ever quite right. The doors would not close properly. The well did not work. The servants were rude. The walls were moldy. The halls smelled of rotting fruit, and no matter how many logs you put on the fire, you were always cold.

“Nor can you ever grow used to this new house, precisely because it reminds you so much of your old home. You cannot see the blighted rose without recalling the beauty of your old gardens. You cannot walk the corridors without its layout bringing to mind the house you loved. You cannot look through the dingy windows at the overcast sky without remembering the glorious skies above the mansion of your youth. Everything you see makes you heartsick for the original, of which this current place is but a dark reflection. That is what it is like to remember heaven and dwell on earth.”

From Prospero Regained,

The main character’s brother is questioning to Hermes, who has explained that as Christ came to mankind, a different Savior came to visit the gods.

My brother was not so forbearing. He frowned severely, “But how can Our Divine Father approve of you? You are a pagan god, a devil! Does not your very existence violate the First Commandment?”

The Swift God snorted. “You are lucky, Twice-Pope, that you amuse me, or you would be but a cinder now. We divine beings who serve the All Highest are forbidden from inciting mortals to worship us. This is why, since our conversion—which came your Savior visited you—we no longer have priests and keep up temples on the earth. But that was ever a small part of our nature. We have our tasks to perform, our spheres of influence to oversee, such as my duties as a messenger.”

The previous examples had hints of Christianity. This, however, is an actual example of what I truly mean by Christian Magic—the Christianity is providing the magic. This scene takes place in the throne room of the demon queen Lilith.

“Is that so? Then, have you not heard,” he opened his mouth: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.

Everything within the sound of his voice suddenly seemed tawdry and hollow, as if its true nature had been revealed and found wanting. The chamber became so flimsy that, for a tiny instant, for a fraction of a split second, I saw right through it….

That’s the best example of what I mean that I have, but here’s one final example from the yet unpublished Rachel and the Technicolor Dreamland—an encounter between the main character and the Lion of Judah.

Out there before her now, invisible behind the fog, lay the memorial gardens with its many shrines, where offerings could be made to numerous gods. Rachel wished, not for the first time since she came to school, that her family had chosen a household god—someone she could pray to for guidance, for strength. She wished recklessly that some deity would manifest, as in the tales of old, and offer her comfort in return for loyalty.

No figure appeared amidst thunder and lighting. The only moving thing visible on the lawn below was Kitten Fabian’s familiar, padding its way across the damp grass. The little Comfort Lion, a golden-maned lion the size of a house cat, stopped and turned its head. Its golden eyes seemed to stare straight up at Rachel. It was probably a coincidence, but an eerie horripilation ran across Rachel’s body.

She thought back three seconds. In her memory, the Lion was gigantic—bigger than elephants, bigger than houses, bigger than trees. It looked down from the sky, its expression reminding Rachel of Mistletoe, when he sat watching a hole from which he expected a mouse to emerge.

There was no mistaking it. Its great golden eyes were focused directly upon Rachel.