Evil is back!
Cover of The New York Times Magazine (6-4-1995)
"We are of God . . . [but] the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one."
1 John 5:1
Years ago, I picked up a free magazine called Well-Being Journal in a health food store. I threw it away a few days later, but I may never forget a comment I read. Apparently, the author had received this bit of wisdom from her inner guide: "Many people believe in evil, sin, and dark forces. It is your purpose to teach the opposite which is the Truth: there is no devil, no hell, no sin, no guilt except in the creative mind of humankind."2
That people believe this lie suits the devil just fine. He has always tried to blur our view of evil and our sensitivity to sin. While the evidence for supernatural evil multiplies all around us, more and more people deny it. Sure, they may believe in cosmic forces and bad vibes. But sin or Satan? They don't fit the new paradigm.
In October 1995, our local school district held a large public meeting to discuss Halloween festivities. Most parent were angry at some proposed limitations on the traditional in-school celebration of a "harmless holiday." Why worry about the small minority who felt offended by its ancient link to a dead religion?
Only a few minority voices were heard. A former Wiccan priest explained that the old Celtic witchcraft that gave birth to Halloween is anything but dead. Flourishing in today's pagan revival, it has become an official religion with tax-exempt status.4 Then a few parents shared their concerns about programs that compelled children to celebrate occult themes. They knew well that pagan symbols and occult amusement were desensitizing children to a fast-spreading subculture obsessed with death, spells and black magic -- not just at Halloween but all year long.5
The majority booed, jeered, and refused to listen. "These are religious objections to secular events," declared the president of the board, Phil Faillaice. Everyone seemed to have forgotten that a different minority had, only nine months earlier, banned Christmas songs as offensive to their beliefs. But times have changed. By the end of the evening, the pro-Halloween group had won its case, and the media spread the "good" news from coast to coast.
"We have the holiday back again," declared Bay Area witch, Zsuzsanna Budapest. "These pagan calendars are imprinted in our genes. They cannot be taken away."6
"It's hard to give up a good party," added Daniel Melia, UC Berkeley professor of Celtic languages. "Satan is a Christian notion. This is a pre-Christian celebration."
He is wrong about Satan. The Old Testament mentions Satan fourteen times, and that doesn't include all his other names. From beginning to end, the Bible shows how Lucifer has always been stirring rebellion against God and hatred for His people. But then as now, the good news outshines the bad: the evil one could never cause more trouble than God would allow.7
The clash between two worlds at Halloween is part of the war raging in the unseen, and the enemy's strategy hasn't changed since the Old Testament days when God warned,
"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
who put darkness for light, and light for darkness." (Isaiah 5:20)
Year after year, Satan keeps on trying to trick us into believing the opposite. And as Bibles gather dust, his influence multiplies. Like the "pied piper" of old, he knows how to enthrall the young and fuel ever greater cravings for more dark thrills!
Merging the Minds of Man and Beast
One of his most effective "change agents" is Scholastic Inc., which was publishing the Harry Potter series a decade ago. This year a new series titled Spirit Animals may prove to be just as devious -- or even more so. The first book in the series is titled Wild Born. Authored by Brandon Mull, its back cover gives the following summary:
"In the world of Erdas, four children are about to discover if they have a spirit animal bond, a rare link between human beast that gives great powers to both. Separated by vast distances, Conor, Abeke, Meilin, and Rollan each see a flash of life... and then the animals emerge.
"Wolf, leopard, panda, falcon. Each of the children has summoned a beast from legend. Now their fate is se6. The four new heroes and their animals just band together on a dangerous quest. A dark force from the past is rising and only they have the power to stop it."
In the first chapter, the people of Trunswick (in a world called Erdas) are gathering in the square to watch the rare but magical Nectar ceremony. The goal of this most sacred rite was to witness the mystical calling of a spirit animal. If indeed the mysterious animal appeared, the chosen person would be bound to that animal for life, and both would be mutually strengthened and equipped for the battles ahead through their mystical union.
The young Lord Devin Trunswick, elite son of the earl of Trunswick, was the first to drink the mysterious Nectar. Hoping that a spiritual transformation and public celebrations would follow, he was deeply disappointed when no animal answered his call. Angry, bitter and embarrassed he left the stage.
Conor faced the opposite. When he drank the mystical, sweet nectar, a burning sensation spread through his chest and the ground began to tremble. The sky darkened, and a brilliant flash pierced that darkness. The tingling in his chest spread through his body, and he was filled with joy.
Then he saw the massive wolf with strange blue eyes. The wolf padded toward Conor and licked his palm as if he knew that the boy was truly his new partner. Briggan's touch had filled his human partner with a courage, clarity and alertness.
Conor would soon learn that Briggan the Wolf, his powerful partner, was one of the "great Beasts." He had already reached the heights of the famous great Beasts.
A voice rang out: "Good people of Trunswick! News of this day will echo across all of Erdas! In our hour of need, Briggan has returned!" p.12
The war between the "good" teams and the "bad" teams continue through the series. But remember, from a Christian perspective, both teams are occult. All the players are empowered through deceptive forces, reflecting the spiritual darkneness behind occult practices and pagan cultures throughout history.
The following sentence from this story illustrates the spiritual danger of all who follow Satan rather than God:
"We're in an impossible situation," Tarki said. "We will not find these talismans without the great Beasts. If the Devourer gets them, that will be the end of Erdas as we know it.
The Deadly Repetitions of the Occult
Few contemporary Christians understand Satan's schemes better than Valerie Duffy, a former witch. "The feast of Samhain (sah-ween) is an unholy Sabbath observed by occultists worldwide," she told me. Freed from the demonic forces that once controlled her life, she now lives in an "upstate New York" community that often publicizes Wiccan coven meetings and "full moon" celebrations. Each October, she fights -- and wins  -- a spiritual battle against oppressive forces that intensify their attacks near the Wiccan holiday.
Valerie knows all too well why Neopagans love Halloween. The old Celtic "sabbat" is their main feast -- a window of time when the walls between the physical and spiritual worlds supposedly become thin enough to allow easy crossovers. But don't think the Vigil of Samhain was just a fun holiday. The "Lord of the Dead", Samhain himself, is no deity to laugh at. Valerie explains why:"On October 31, black-cloaked Druids bearing torches would go door to door to select humans for their New Year's sacrifice to the Lord of the Dead. In return for the child or infant, they would leave a hollowed turnip with candle light shining through the carved face -- a satanic counterfeit for the biblical Passover."
In the reveling that took place on that night to Samhain, the demons supposedly loosed for the night would pass over the homes "marked" by the carved lantern. Those families had provided the required gift or sacrifice. Other homes could be hit -- sometimes with sudden death.
The children selected for sacrifice were tossed into a bonfire. The Druids called it a bone-fire since only the bones were left. From the agonizing screams of the dying, the divining priests would foretell the future of the village.12
Does the last statement sound familiar? Remember how the shaman or medicine man in Disney's Pocahontas read the future in the smoke from his ritual fire. When you look behind today's idealized images of the world's pagan religions, you find some awesome similarities. Small wonder since Satan, the mastermind behind the Druid rituals, usually repeats the same basic strategies wherever he works.
Twists truth to seduce God's people
1 Chronicles 21:1
Prompts people to sin
Determines to "be like the Most High"
Waits for "opportune" times when we are vulnerable
"takes away the word out of their hearts"
Puts people in bondage
Evil is back
Throughout history, whenever God's people would trade truth for myth, they slid back into decadence.13 Today we see the same downward trend reflected in newspaper headlines week after week.
Some of the most shocking stories deal with children who run wild. Lacking any sense of shame, three teenage boys stabbed, strangled, and beat a 55-year-old man crippled by multiple sclerosis -- then feasted on the spaghetti in his refrigerator. He "didn't have a chance," concluded the Newsweek story. "The boys who allegedly attacked him. . . were ruthless."14
Girls are fast catching up with boys. In New Orleans, a 13-year old schoolgirl pulled out a knife and plunged it into a classmate's back. "You name the crime, we have it; you think about the worst scenarios and we have them here,"15 said Edward Cue, an official with California's "hard core" Youth Authority school in Ventura.
The lack of remorse baffles law officers. Why are both children and adults losing the old sensitivity to the horrors of evil? Why can't they tell right from wrong?
The New York Times cover story that declared "evil is back," raised the same questions: "What does it mean? Violence? Mindless wickedness? Malignant wickedness?"16
The answer is: all the above. People love evil. Children gleefully watch televised death scenes that might have shocked hardened spectators in the old Roman coliseum. The lure of cruelty, violence, and occult horrors sell some of the most popular children's books as well as supermarket tabloids. By its mere exposure and availability, evil has been reinvented. Now it feels good, not bad -- exciting, not repulsive. And Satan grins.
Fictionalized evil separates people from the reality of human suffering, which is just what the evil one intended. Many become spectators rather than participants in real community life. Eventually, both real and imagined violence becomes significant only as entertainment.
Some years ago, I talked with a nurse involved with holistic medicine. Jane and her husband had learned an holistic form of massage therapy that seemed to relieve her back pain, at least for a while. Like the Chinese ch'i and the Hindu prana (taught at the Re-Imagining conference), a spiritual force would flow through their hands, bringing healing by balancing their energies. But as the time passed, Jane grew more and more dependent on her husband's treatment. Each time he massaged, the pain would fade. But the pain-free periods between massages grew shorter while the pain that soon followed grew more intense. She became desperate for lasting relief.
Lying in bed one night, Jane sensed something dark approach her. Terrified, she cried out, "In the name of Jesus, get out of here!" The unearthly presence left, but Jane and her husband realized that something was terribly wrong. What had they done to invite this kind of demonic manifestation?
After a brief search, they found a pastor who helped them understand the occult links to holistic healing. Like Valerie, they had to confess, renounce and stop all the practices they had learned to trust. Guess what happened to Jane's back? God healed it. When she chose to trust Him, He set her free.