Karate-kicking their way to global fame, the world's hottest super heroes have left the Ninja Turtles behind in the dust. Armed with magic crystals, megazords, and the ancient secrets of martial arts, they claim to be the saviors of the world--ready at a flash to combat evil aliens and inhuman monsters. Blending body, mind and animal power into an Eastern form of supernatural empowerment, they are super-fast, super-strong and super-dedicated. And they are concerned about the environment.
The Power Rangers have built a worldwide army of small but impassioned disciples who share their cause: fighting evil with supernatural power. When the six karate heroes transform themselves into high-kicking warriors, they also have an uncanny power to "morph" their young devotees into leaping, wrestling, kicking combatants.
"One simply has to say 'Trini' [a former Ranger's name] and abracadabra, and the little curmudgeons transform before my very eyes into an entire martial-arts army," says Fannie Elliott, a teacher at Kedren Headstart Preschool in Los Angeles. With grunts, groans and cries of "Hi-Yah!" they kick and karate-chop their way around a roomful of potential aliens.
Lori Pino, a teacher in Massachusetts, shared Elliott's concern. "I noticed that with the Power Rangers it was different, there was a real obsession." She tried banning Power Ranger play, but the children simply kept "karate-chopping the air, behind [her] back."
Obsession with power, violence and martial arts can prove fatal. Last fall, Norway, Sweden and Denmark banned the show for a season after a five-year-old Norwegian girl was kicked unconscious by classmates and died in the snow. Some blamed the Ninja Turtles, which had been broadcasting the skills and thrills of the martial arts longer.
In spite of the bad reports, there is no sign of a cool-down. Since the Power Rangers premiered on the Fox network last year, they have "built one of the most passionate goundswells of devotion in the history of Kids' entertainment," says San Francisco Examiner writer Peter Stack. "Or zombie-like groundswells, depending on your point of view."
To calm Morphin madness, parents and teachers are counterattacking. Some play soothing music. Others tiptoe around certain words to avoid triggering a kinetic explosion. In a child-care center at the California State University in Fullerton, "children are allowed to pummel orange traffic cones and take turns going into the cloakroom to 'Hi-Yah' their hearts out," writes Wall Street Journal editor Joseph Pereria.
While many parents give in to the kicks and screams that follow attempted restrictions, others simply accept the show, hoping that the good outweighs the bad. After all, the Rangers demonstrate discipline, teamwork, and the right use of force, don't they? They fight monsters, not humans, so there's no blood. And, since it's just fantasy, the violence won't matter much....
But the list of virtues mean little to Lee Sizemore, a California day care mother. She sees what the show does to her kids. "Their legs go up," she says. "They can't help themselves. And kicking is kicking. I wish they would yank it off the air..." She finally chose to turn off the TV and face the wild protest that often accompanies Power Ranger withdrawal.
What would you do? Before you decide, ask yourself these two questions. What does the program teach children about reality? Does it train them to look at life from a biblical or an occult perspective?
Since young children soak up images along with words--without much analysis or evaluation, their understanding of the world will be formed by the most fun, forceful, and persistent messages they receive. Children raised on daily diets of biblical truth will recognize and resist occult images. But daily doses of Power Ranger magic with its pulsating rock beat will reduce their resistance to deception. Fantasy or not, the repeated themes and occult context of most contemporary cartoons will train their minds to believe the timeless lies that have always drawn people from truth to myths.
The chart below exposes some key differences. It also shows similarities that make the supernatural world of the Power Ranger believable to many Christians. Remember, the most deceptive counterfeits look most similar to the genuine. We discern the difference by knowing the truth.
BIBLICAL WORLD VIEW NEW-AGE (occult) WORLD VIEW God is holy, all-seeing, all-powerful and eternal. The main god-like person, Zordon, is an all-seeing master-mind shaped by human imagination. God alone can save the earth--and show us how to fit into His plan. The Power Rangers save the world by invoking their designated animal power. God is the source of all power. He gives His children strength to carry out His plans. The Rangers manipulate power through mind control, magic symbols and fetishes: crystals, swords, rings... Believers enter into their new identity and eternal life by faith in Jesus, the "Bread of Life." Rangers are initiated into their new identity and powers through an occult ritual using the "Sword of Life" Christians dedicate their lives to God. "I dedicated my whole life to the study of martial arts," says the White Ranger. Christians overcome Satan by God's Word and power. The Rangers overcome evil by manipulating occult powers. God promises power and protection to those who trust and follow Christ. Zordon promises that "the power will always be with you and protect you."
To cool Ranger fever in your home, try asking some leading age-appropriate questions. For example:
* What is the source of the Power Rangers' power?
* How do they get their supernatural power?
* Who gets the credit for winning the battles?
* Does someone in the program pretend to be God?
* Did you see magic symbols or occult charms?
* What does God's Word tell us about these kinds of powers?
God tells us to "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6) This means helping your child build a biblical world view, a mental framework based on God's Word not the world's distortions. Viewing the world through the filter of truth, your child will accept what God loves, discern what He hates, and enjoy the safety He offers those who follow Him.
1 Joseph Pereira, "Caution: 'Morphing' May Be Hazardous to Your Teacher," Wall Street Journal, December 7, 1994
3 Peter Stack, "Never Underestimate the Power of a Morphin," San Francisco Examiner, January 15, 1995.
5 Associated Press, "Power Ranger Mania Hits the Road," San Francisco Chronicle, December 12, 1994.
6 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Karate Club, Video I, Saban Home Entertainment.
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