Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside when you think of AP college courses, don't it?
Here's the PDF of the AP chapter
Here's the PDF of the AP student notes on the chapter
Dawn tells us:
"A high-school textbook used for the AP (Advanced Placement) European History exam equates the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance with "high magic" and says that, to combat witchcraft in the 13th century, "the Church declared its magic to be the only true magic."
Had ordinary people not believed that "gifted persons" could help or harm by magical means, and had they not been willing to accuse them, the hunts would never have occured; however, the contribution of Christian theologians was equally great. When the church expanded into areas where its power and influence were small, it encountered semipagan cultures rich in folkloric beliefs that predated Christianity. There, it clashed with the cunning men and women, who were respected spiritual authorities in their local communities, the folk equivalents of Christian priests. The Christian clergy also practiced high magic. They could transform bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ (the sacrament of the Eucharist) and eternal penalties for sin into temporal ones (the sacrament of Penance or Confession). The also claimed the power to cast out demons who possessed the faithful.In the late thirteenth century, the Church declared its magic to be the only true magic. Since such powers were not innate to humans, the theologians reasoned, they must come either from God or from the devil. Those from God were properly exercised within and by the church. Any who practiced magic outside and against the church did so on behalf of the devil.
- Influence of the Clergy
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When I got this missive from Dawn, I just started laughing.
Oddly enough, as we were reviewing for next week's final exam, I was just reminding my college class again this evening the difference between liturgy and magic.
You see, while both involve ritual, the rituals have entirely different purposes.
In order to do magic, you have to be an animist or polytheist.
Magic only works if you believe in lots of gods, none of them too smart, all of them venal, self-serving or at least relatively inscrutable. That is, you have to believe gods are like government employees or college professors, only a lot more powerful.
Animists and polytheists tend to believe all kinds of things have spirits with varying degrees of strange or unknown power - trees, animals, rivers, rocks. According to this way of thinking, all these quasi-persons can intentionally harm us.
The point of magic is to greet these other "persons" in a (generally) kindly fashion, and then use the rituals of magic to either ingratiate ourselves to them or get some level of control over them. Magic is intended to change the gods so that they won't be of a mind to hurt us or won't be able to hurt us.
But liturgy, such as was practiced by the Jews in the Temple, and still is practiced by Catholics and Orthodox (and to a lesser extent, Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, etc.), liturgy is quite a different kettle of fish.
In liturgy, the point of the ritual is to change the believer who participates in it.
In liturgy, we who believe mean to submit ourselves to the omnipotent, unchanging, all-powerful God. In liturgy, we lie prostrate before God. We allow God to act upon us, to change us, to change who we are, so that we are brought to understand what the Good truly is. We ask God to change us so that we want the good that God intends for us. Liturgy is meant to bring us into conformance to God.
Far from asking the gods to stop hurting us, in liturgy we ask God to forgive us for, and teach us how to stop, crucifying Him. In liturgy, God allows us to participate in the repair of the rift we have made between us, we get a chance to help clean up the mess we made.
So, while magic and liturgy are both rituals, they have precisely opposite purposes.
In magic, we attempt to make the gods docile to us.
In liturgy, God helps us become docile to Him.
You would think college professors would know the difference between controlling a class and being controlled by a class.
Now, I would like to explain these concepts to the gentlemen who wrote these texts, but I don't think I can. The Spirit is willing, but their flesh is too weak.