A world crazy for magic and divination will ultimately reject the majesty of the divine.
While loveable vampires, werewolves and the Harry Potter craze may be titillating broomstick fiction, their supernatural romps are anything but super.
There is a reason for the exploding popularity of 1-800-PSYCHICS and the invasion of ghouls, magic and wizards. Predictably, the natural man substitutes the mystical for his Maker, growing fat on his own self-pleasing conceit. Thus conceited, he is free to cannibalize fantasy for faith.
Dungeons and Dragons
Some years ago I set apart a young man for full-time missionary service. Within two days of his arrival at the Missionary Training Center, he had to be sent home. He was suffering withdrawal symptoms from an addiction to "Dungeons and Dragons," a popular video game. Because he was engrossed in levels of magic, he was unable to level his focus on the magic of his mission.
Sadly, some fans of the dark arts get sucked into the occult. They confuse mysticism with miracle, and spiritualism with spirituality. Perhaps their days would be better spent searching the scriptures than groping cobwebbed halls and creaky staircases.
The evolution of horror and the occult
In the 1950s Hollywood regaled us with horror films like “The Blob,” a ravenous oil slick turned sludge-bubble ugly. Then came Vincent Price in the creepy “House on Haunted Hill.” Taro readings were common and Ouija boards dotted the teenage party scene.
The 1960s spawned the flower children of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury District, where mind-altering drugs and the occult provided the dual escape from the pain of self-examination.
The 70s and 80s blinded us with star-struck horoscopes. The Age of Aquarius sought signs in birth dates and stars. These were anemic substitutes for the Star of Bethlehem and the wondrous signs of Christ's birth.
Today, Hollywood is on a furious pace to crank out occult reality TV. Hell-bent in search of ghoulish goblins, these ghost hunters have found nothing but fool's gold in the public's deep pockets. Enough of Halloween 24/7.
When the seedy creeps from the shadows
What was once reserved for drunken sailors and seedy dives is now mainstream. Like all things seedy, vampires and wizards operate best from the shadows. They are repelled by the sunlight. Perhaps that is why millions of fans line up at the box office at midnight. Enough of vampires.
Where are the dentists? It's common sense: no pointy eyeteeth, no blood sucking forays into innocent necks.
And wizards? I'd rather fight evil with the character of Christ than a novelist's flawed characters.
Pop culture is on the move
Pop culture is always on the move, but the motion sickness can make even the elect of God queasy. Just because something gyrates for attention doesn't mean we should pay attention.
The net result of a world thirsting to mainstream the seedy is an unquenchable thirst for more, thus parching the seeds of faith.
The prophets warn
For centuries the prophets have warned us against magic, divination and the occult. "There shall not be found among you any that ... useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch ... or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord. ..." (Duet.18:10-12).
The sad byproduct of a world entranced by magic, vampires and ghosts is the more we assault the senses, the less sensitive we become to holy sensations.
Fans of the genre cannot escape God's warnings by claiming vicarious thrills in fiction.
Warning to parents
Parents who wink at mystical fantasy as "innocent fun" may be closing a blind eye to the not so innocent. There is something irresistible to our youth about escaping reality, and when they do, fantasy can become their unintended jailer.
By guiding our children’s interests to an abiding interest in the divine, they avoid the shadows where bad things happen.
Mysticism is not miracle, and howling for the undead is not a prayer for life eternal.
While we can't protect our youth from every devious thing the world offers, we can offer the armor of God in the safety of a gospel-centered home. The power of prayer, the sacrifice of service, the iron will of the iron rod: These are things that produce faith leading to Jesus.
These things are not magic, but their transforming effect is truly magical.
William Monahan is a 1980 graduate of BYU Law School. He practices law in Gilbert, Ariz. A former Phoenix stake president, he serves on the high council for the Queen Creek Chandler Heights Stake.