Eric V. Snow, sermonette, 3-9-07, UCG, Ann Arbor, MI


Since the 1960s, the Western world has experienced a great upsurge in interest in the occult, Satanism, witchcraft, and Eastern religions.  The old arid, modernist, rationalist, agnostic, Enlightenment mask has increasingly fallen away in the culture at large and even among some academics.  A lot more of the West’s culture is out on Shirley MacLaine’s limb than used to be.  But instead of turning to the Bible and a structured religion based on it, many now embrace a free form belief in ESP, psychic predictions, paranormal psychology, etc.  It would be hard to imagine such TV shows as “Medium” or “The X Files” being put on the air back in the 1950’s.


These post-modernist cultural trends in the world affect us in the Church of God, for it’s hard to avoid the world’s media influences through TV, movies, videos, music, etc.


S.P.S.  We Christians have to carefully screen out and avoid media choices in which serious occultic, Satanic themes predominate.


Leviticus 20:6


God says this about consulting a medium. “New Age” terminology is “Channel.” Hopefully we all here would avoid ever going to a séance.  After all, we know that the dead are dead, that if it wasn’t fakery, that it would be a demon speaking instead that pretends to be our departed loved one.  Harry Houdini spent 30 years exposing such frauds.  (1920 book, “Miracle Mongers and Their Methods,”1924 book, “A Magician Among the Spirits.”)  Case of the witch of Endor, Samuel, and King Saul won’t be specifically examined here, but an example.  How knowing state of dead protects us from occultic spiritual traps and frauds, such as paying mediums to contact the dead for us.


Deut. 18:9-14


Since either frauds or having powers from Satan and/or the demons, we must avoid them.  We shouldn’t let our curiosity get the best of us.  It’s easy to get fascinated by UFOs, psychic phenomena like poltergeists, etc.  We naturally seek after signs, even if they are Satanic ones also.


If we believe we shouldn’t engage in occult practices, should we watch TV shows, go to movies, and listen to music with serious occultic themes?  Sure, we’d say we wouldn’t play with tarot cards or with Ouija boards.  At least let’s hope so.  But would we avoid going to various haunted houses at this or that Feast site?  (Niagara Falls, Wisconsin Dells examples).  Do we hunt down our daily sun sign and predictions in the astrology column in our daily newspaper?  (Inaccurate, since not based on location of birth and own birth date and time, according to professional astrologers anyway!)  Think of Nancy Reagan using an astrologer’s predictions for setting the timing of appointments for her husband when he was president.


Let’s hit on some well known rock bands and songs.  Why was Black Sabbath called, well, “Black Sabbath”?  Is it a good idea to listen to Van Halen’s song, “Running with the Devil”?  Why did Iron Maiden have an album called “The Number of the Beast”?  The title’s song has these lyrics in it:  “I'm coming back/I will return/And I'll possess your body and I'll make you burn/I have the fire/ I have the force/I have the power to make my evil take its course.”  My brother’s defense of such groups at the time he was a big fan of them was that they didn’t take their messages seriously.  But even if they aren’t true believing Satanists, we still shouldn’t listen to their messages, for in the context of the songs, they don’t sound like they’re joking, but are serious.
Consider now various movies.  Why are occultic themes so common compared to Biblical ones in recent decades?  I hope we wouldn’t watch reruns of “The Exorcist,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” and the Damien Omen movies.  But consider movies with less obvious occultic themes, like those based on the Dracula and Wolfman characters.  Don’t these really have similar problems due to the references to magic involved?  After all, if it isn’t done by sleight of hand, like Houdini’s escape artist tricks or by creating optical illusions, like David Copperfield, what then is the source?  If it isn’t from God, and it’s not a fraud, it’s from Satan and/or the demons.  
Harry Potter movies, books:  Over 325 million sold from R.K. Rowlings’ series; “Harry Potter and Sorceror’s Stone (2001), 4th highest grossing movie, $976 million; Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets (2002), 10th, $876 million; Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire (2005), 9th, $892 million; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 2004, $789 million.  Occultic strong since “authentic” since author did research very well.  Think of Goosebumps stories for kids also. Kids read more, but does that end justify, sanitize, the means?  Teaches them to look to someone else besides God and Biblical values for deliverance from problems.
Why so caught up in such stuff, finding it fascinating?  Why do UFO’s show up where poltergeists are knocking also?  Why get interested in state of dead also then?  (The link can’t be deemed logical). Due to the Prince of the power of the air!
5 of 10 highest grossing movies occultic.
Tougher hit: J.R.R. Tolkein’s “Lord of Rings” trilogy.  “Return of King,” 2003, 2nd highest grossing movie, $1.1 billion; “The Two Towers,” 5th, 2002, $926 million; “Fellowship of Ring,” 11th, 2001, $871 million.  Harder to attack, in part since author was a serious Catholic.  Author sold at least 100 million books, including since he died   True, has good & evil theme, a fascinating plot well told, but what kind of “good” and “evil” have we got here?  How close to Bible’s definition, God’s definition?  How do characters have spiritual powers, such as by having this ring with its mysterious powers that can slowly cause its owners to become mentally unbalanced, like Gollum?
True, issue of where to draw the line, like with Sabbath.  Hard to take old TV series  with Elizabeth Montgomery, “Bewitched” seriously.  Can argue more about “Wizard of Oz,” although it’s plain to an analytical grown-up that the adult characters are all out to lunch, clueless, or humbugs, except for Dorothy Gail of Kansas, the voice of reason and common sense amidst all the quirks and ridiculous quests of the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Tin man, the Wizard Himself (same actor portrayed a trickster fortune teller when was in Kansas in the beginning sequence), etc.  “Fantasia” example of general cultural contamination:  Night on Bald Mt., Sorceror’s Apprentice occultic, Nutcracker suite, based on Christmas, Rite of Spring, saturated with evolutionist ideas of the development of early life, Bacchus, false god and classical mythological figures used for Beethoven’s 3rd symphony; Ave Maria, obviously we’ve got the Catholic overkill on the Virgin Mary, even if particularly moving song if have melancholy tendencies.
No right to be entertained.  Time waste often.  We wonder why we don’t have time to pray and study!
What to do then if we own this stuff?
Acts 19:19
Why tossed own copy of “Lord of the Rings.”  Christianity sometimes requires radical action
Conclusion:  God commands Christians to avoid occultic practices, such as going to séances, consulting fortunetellers, getting horoscopes cast, dealing tarot cards, playing Ouija, etc.  Why?  For all spiritual power that isn’t from God is from Satan and/or the demons.  But to be consistent, we also have to avoid media choices that take the occult or Satanism seriously.  We may have to shun many highly entertaining books, movies, and songs since we shouldn’t fill our minds with such ideas.  For to say we should not attend séances but we may watch movies about characters that cast spells would be like to condemn literal adultery, but then to say lusting after a woman is fine!