Magical Transactions

I’ve been listening to some podcasts with Richard Rohr lately, and one of the themes that frequently jumps out to me in his thinking is the idea of “magical transactions” and the damage they cause.

Many of Fr. Richard’s examples are focused on religious life such as the role of the clergy, prayer that’s premised on a literal interpretation of “ask and you shall receive,” or merely ritual piety.

But of course magical thinking is hardly limited to the way we approach the supernatural. How many of us expect that the things we buy, the votes we cast, or the degrees we receive will magically change our circumstances?

In all cases, the problem seems to be not so much over-expectation but giving over far too much of our own power and agency.

Once we give others the keys to our lives, there’s no guarantee we’ll like the direction they want to go with us.