I’ve been swamped. Matt’s been sick, youth group kids are having crises, there’s writing and editing goals and deadlines piling up, and the house is a mess, which doesn’t help anything.
As such, I’ll make it clear right now that this post contains very little in the way of original thought and analysis. However, I will leave you with another tidbit of the excellent From Homer to Harry Potter:
What comes to mind when you think of a spell? For most people, it has the connotation of magic or enchantment… The World English Dictionary defines a spell as: “a word or series of words believed to have magical power, spoken to invoke the magic.” For those in a Christian tradition, therefore, a spell is thus likely to be viewed as a thing of evil…
In the Old English, however, the word spell had a somewhat different meaning. Originally the word spell meant “story.” Hence, gód spell is “good story”–the close translation to Old English of the Greek evangelion, or “good message.” Thus, when Christians came to England, they called the evangelion the gód spell, which later became the gospel: the good story.
So how did the word change meanings? How did a story become magic? The change is not so dramatic as it might first appear. After all, a good story (or Old English spell) really does cast a spell (in the more modern use of that word). The best sort of story enchants the listener or reader; while he or she is hearing the tale–listening to the “series of words” used to tell the tale–the characters seem real for a time. Indeed, the mark of a successful writer is the ability to make characters so real to us that we care about them.
Discuss as you will. This stuff fascinates and excites me.