EDITOR’S NOTE: This series is excerpted from the bestselling book God’s Ghostbusters
Once upon a time, a human child listened to her very first fairytale. Inside the protection of a bedroom wallpapered with princesses and castles, her mother’s voice was soft, modulated; sometimes inflected with gentle cooing as if singing the songs of ancient magicians, other times wrapped with fearsome strut and polish as if striding a mountain in the boots of a ravenous giant. Wolves, witches, goblins, and trolls planned and plotted against heroes and maidens, each one ending with the comforting words “and they all lived happily ever after.” The child loved her mother’s voice, and she learned to tune in, her mind fixed on the sound—and the story—as she closed her eyes and inhabited the words and the make-believe realm. And for her, as with most human children of the world, an imaginary, alternate dimension took shape, brick-by-brick, wall-by-wall, street-by-street, city-by-city, and kingdom-by-kingdom.
As the little girl grew, her imaginary realm traveled with her, though she walked there far less often than when she’d been younger; but she still visited in her dreams. Now, a teenager, the cares of reality nicked and pinched at the girl’s hungry soul, and so she sought nightly refuge in the familiar, manageable kingdom within the recesses of her mind, but the simple stories of youth no longer had the same effect. As if she’d forgotten how to “dream,” the girl rushed headlong into anything that might help her to rediscover the hidden kingdoms once again: video games, film, graphic novels, fan fiction. Her brain, however, could no longer respond to gentle stimulation—now, nearly an adult, the young woman developed a deep-seated need for dark fiction, vampires, ghosts, demons, and the very dead themselves to sedate the harsh world and recreate the safe, inner world of childhood fairytales.
Alas, the poor girl had no idea what a terrifying journey she had begun! Such dark worlds demand our full attention; they feed on our dreams and upon our imaginations like monstrous, demonic ghouls, finally controlling our inner kingdom and setting up the trolls as prison guards and the vampires as lovers in disguise. And so the Darkness controlled the young woman—changing her, reshaping her, coercing her into perverted, dream-like, virtual acts within her mind; and before long, the girl found comfort only in darkness, and light became a terrifying reality.
How many of us remember the very first day of classes, either in high school or in college? We hustled into each classroom or lecture hall, often late, and usually bewildered. I returned to college as a non-traditional student—in my case, that meant that I was older and fatter. Though I eventually received my degree from Indiana University, my first return to college came in the fall of 1988, when I enrolled as a voice major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I was nearly thirty-six, easily fifteen years older than nearly all my fellow students. As I had decided to register at the last minute, I spent my first week trekking back and forth between administration buildings and my classrooms—all the while huffing and puffing in sweltering triple-digit temperatures and thinking myself mad for ever signing up! I probably lost five pounds from sweating, not just from overtaxing my out-of-shape body, but also from honest, open, terror, at the prospect of academic challenges to my aging brain.
My eight o’clock class was Music Theory, and I took a seat in the front row, mostly to ensure I could see the blackboard. I’d brought a briefcase filled with notebooks and a voice recorder. I was prepared to take a ream of notes, but to my surprise and relief, I could have left the notebooks at home and lightened my load, because each and every professor that day—and for most of that week—spent time making sure all his/her students came in on an even playing field. We counted heads, checked paperwork, and looked over each course syllabus: a plan for the semester that featured an outline of each lecture, assigned reading, and definitions. During that week, I heard one phrase repeated again and again, not only for that semester, but for each and every semester, both there and later at Indiana University, for every class I took until the day I left graduate school in 1997: “Let’s define terms.”
So, in the spirit of academic pursuit, let us define terms. This chapter deals with the notion of virtual sin or rather sin that occurs in our minds, in our hearts. To begin with: what is virtual reality? Biologically, virtual reality (VR) is the activation of neuron pathways inside our brains, interpreting input from a lightning-fast assault of ones and zeroes. VR is the interface between human and machine that produces a sum that is far greater than its addends. According to the reference website, Dictionary.com, one concise definition of VR is: “(noun)—A computer simulation of a real or imaginary world or scenario, in which a user may interact with simulated objects or living things in real time. More sophisticated virtual reality systems place sensors on the user’s body to sense movements that are then interpreted by the system as movements in the simulated world. Binocular goggles are sometimes used to simulate the appearance of objects in three dimensions[i] (emphasis mine).
If you’ve played the latest role-playing computer games, then you have immersed your mind in a virtual reality field, allowing your imagination to become your reality. If you have recently attended a 3-D film, then you have accessed a virtual reality world through use of 3-D glasses. Buddhists might even argue that we constantly live in a virtual reality environment because (so they teach) our minds continuously construct the world around us; that we create and perceive at the same time; we participate and observe all at once. Of course, such a worldview requires side-stepping the issue of an ultimate, singular, preexisting God who spoke the universe, and with it all reality, into being. However, I will leave that argument for another series.
A second term requiring mutual understanding, and hence a definition, is entertainment. A derivative definition is “that which entertains,” but then derivation doesn’t get us very far, does it? Perhaps, looking at synonyms would help: these include amusement, distraction, diversion, pastime, game, play, recreation, sport—and the list goes on and on. Of this list, two words stand out: distraction and diversion. Both speak of active means that remove us from our mundane thoughts and hurl us mentally or physically into a temporary hiatus from that dullness that so tugs at our mental shoelaces. Television and cinema feed upon our need for diversions. From a child’s earliest months; as soon as he or she is steady enough and strong enough to sit alone in front of the magic box, the virtual world of make-believe invades and enthralls, and programs the little one’s developing brain.
In point of fact, one disturbing yet hauntingly accurate definition of “entertainment” might be that it is an industry whose message not only permeates our minds through synaptic sensation, but that it also shapes our perceptions of the world and how we fit into it; which is uncomfortably close to Buddhist logic. Certainly, it can be argued that without our ever-growing need for “distractions” and amusements, movie companies would languish and die, computer and video game producers would go bankrupt, and even literature might find itself alone without a friend, abandoned without a reader.
Such sad exclusions will never occur, though, for my brain and yours have been trained for addiction. Our insatiable desire for mental stimulation will continue to feed the bloated industries while starving our famished souls.
Books, Books, and More Books
If I’ve not completely stumped, or worse yet bored you by now, then let’s climb further up this virtual ladder to the next step on our journey: examples. Though the oldest form of “virtual stimulation” via entertainment may be “the story” as told by an elder—or as in our opening, by a mother—we shall skip ahead with the oldest method of virtual interaction, the novel.
Sir Walter Scott is officially credited with creating the modern historical novel in his ambitious tale of the Jacobite Rebellion, Waverley. Though Scott included no truly supernatural characters—as we will shortly be discussing at length—his work certainly shaped opinion in the minds of his well-heeled London readership. Published in 1814, a generation after the 1745 Battle of Prestonpans that decimated the Scottish rebellion, Waverley allowed readers to virtually live the life of an oppressed and hunted Highlander, and as such created public sympathy toward the noble Scotsman much as we in America sympathize and even seek to emulate the “noble warriors” of our American West. The truth, of course, is that no warrior or war is intrinsically noble; it is how media shapes our perceptions regarding, say, the invasion of another country, that determines whether or not we view such a war and its warriors as good or bad.
Just four years after Scott’s Waverley inspired English readers to reconsider attitudes toward the Highlander, a different kind of novel emerged; one that might be called the great-grandparent of modern fantasy and science fiction. Written by a slip of a girl, a mere teenager, the horror story, Frankenstein (or The Modern Prometheus), broke new ground with its dark and moody settings coupled with cutting-edge “science.” Building on the success of previous “Gothic novels” such as Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764) and Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), Mary Shelley’s classic tale of terror features an isolated and misunderstood protagonist (Victor Frankenstein) who disdains religion in favor of science (a hallmark of the Enlightenment community so prevalent at the time). The virtual world of the Creator and his Monster, through the juxtaposition of science and supernatural, defined and informed readers’ desires to rise above the politics of the day to an ethereal “otherworldliness” found in the pages of Shelley’s masterpiece.
It is this very antipodal relationship between the seen and the unseen, fact and fiction, real and virtual that proves so enticing to the reader. The pages of such novels are but one step beyond our own, yet they provide a reason, a rationale, an acceptance of the ghosts, goblins, banshees, golems, and all manner of unnatural beasties that lurk within the sub-conscience of a repressed, tightly wound society. God has no place in such dark laboratories, at least not the God of Adam, Abraham, Moses, and the Apostles. With such literary flights of fancy, men and women alike can retreat into themselves, or so they believe. With the readers’ minds lax and receptive, the beasties of pen and paper cross the heart’s threshold and enter the mind as easily as a demon might enter through a crack in time—as quick as lightning—creeping in unawares.
Shortly after Shelley’s success, an even darker, more insidious tale of terror appeared on the bookstore shelves of Western civilization. Bram Stoker is said to have based his character, Dracula, on seven years of research into folktales of eastern Europe, and his work—it might be said—is predicated not only on Shelley’s work but also on a friend to the diminutive Shelley, Mr. John Polidori, who published a story called The Vampyre in 1819. So-called “invasion literature”[ii] was immensely popular at the time, and Stoker combined the dark tones of a blood-sucking Count with a threat to the shores of England to tantalize and terrorize his readers. This virtual world grew inside the minds of sophisticated readers, like a virus awaiting activation through the laws of generational curses. The vampire stalked women and even men throughout the decades and centuries that followed, continuing to rise each dusk, luring the young into blood rituals and blood lusts.
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Is THE DESTROYER Coming To America?
With the turn of the twentieth century, advancements in science shifted into high gear. Radio surpassed theater as the major entertainment venue, and the vast and often illegal business of “modern entertainment” entered its golden age. No longer did humanity require long hours of reading or listening to experience the inner world of their favorite heroes, heroines, and villains. Now, instant gratification through a one- or two-hour sitting acted like quickset concrete in our innermost thoughts, pouring fantastic footings that spired into monumental cathedrals, opened into dusty, dreary libraries, or forced us into gloomy and sometimes dangerous pits complete with pendulum sounds creaking ever closer to our rapidly beating hearts. Radio plays provided hours of diversion for students and workers, housewives and husbands. It was, in fact, a radio play, posing as “news,” that forever programmed the minds of captive audiences across the U.S. continent. In fact, Orson Welles’ adaptation of an H. G. Wells 1898 novel, The War of the Worlds, caused a near riot in our nation.
The year was 1938, a time when the countries of Western Europe poised politically upon the edge of a knife. Near the haunts of Count Dracula, an Austrian wallpaper hanger, a former corporal, had grown fangs of his own with an appetite for genocide. Having cheated his way into power, Germany’s Chancellor, Adolf Hitler would soon shock the world with a real-life invasion of Poland.
The world of small town, however, America felt no threat, at least not from Europe. Instead, as the Mercury Theater on the Air[iii] began its iconic performance in the evening of October 30, 1938. So close to Halloween, many listeners may have tuned in with ghosts and goblins and all things supernatural already nestling into their receptive minds. Certainly, the spiritual aspects of this October 30 date is one for speculation and discussion, but its scope is beyond that of this chapter. Welles, brilliant showman that he was, used a familiar format to radio audiences, that of the “news bulletin” to interrupt a staged band concert in order to tell the tale of an alien invasion. Understandably, anyone who missed the disclaimer in the first minutes of the broadcast might easily have believed the “news” of a martian invasion to be true, or at the least a possibility! After all, a news interruption was serious business during a time of war in Europe.
Picture a family in your own hometown, gathered around their pride and joy, an expensive console radio set that rose from the polished wood floor like an alien of its own kind; you and your wife or husband, along with your children, are huddled close to the radio’s cloth-covered speakers, with every eye, every ear intent upon the nightly tale that would transport you to worlds far beyond your ordinary lives. Now, imagine the inner workings of your minds and spirits as the music lulls you into a hypnotic trance only to be punctuated by harsh and terrifying announcements from the battle with the invading aliens. Certainly, it is only fiction! Only a prank! But subsequent with the story’s invasion, another invasion of a different kind is taking place with small but unrelenting steps, at your own invitation—like an innocent invitation to a bloodthirsty count—that eventually sears your minds and forever opens you to invasion of the virtual—the spiritual kind.
Motion Pictures and Television
In the late nineteenth century, a race began to create the first working moving picture. Looking back on the patents of the day, you can almost perceive a spirit behind the “science” of what would become best known as the Kinetoscope.[iv] This rather rudimentary device, showcased primarily at sideshows and fairs for the amusement of patrons, utilized perforated film and an imprinted series of images shot at the speed of ten or more frames per second. One of the early patent holders was Thomas Edison, who coined the term “Kinetoscope.” The viewer had to hand-crank the device to advance the film while gazing into a viewfinder similar to that used in a stereoscope (a device that produced a 3-D effect for photos). In fact, it’s remarkable that the inventors of the time did not also patent and produce stereo-kinetoscopes to provide a 3-D experience for their customers—ah, but that, too, is for another discussion in another series.
As war raged in Europe, silent films drew faithful audiences throughout the western world. Even without sound, movie studios learned new techniques with each new project, slowly perfecting the craft of illusion, some telling the stories of great biblical epics, others depicting the lowest of human depravities. By the time sound arrived in 1927 with The Jazz Singer, audiences had learned to leave their troubles behind and disappear into the dark with their favorite actors and actresses, imagining themselves as part of the action…entering a virtual world while munching on popcorn and peanuts.
The birth of television brought this virtual world into our homes. It is no coincidence that one of the earliest adopters of television technology was Adolf Hitler’s Germany with the broadcast of the 1936 Berlin Olympics! Spiritually speaking, it might be said that dark aspects of virtual reality intertwine with the hypnotic practices of occult Nazi Germany. Mind-control was the intention then…and so it is now.
As television programming grew as an “art” form, commercial insertions for a variety of products punctuated our favorite shows. The virtual “getaway” from reality into a different world allowed children and parents alike to imagine themselves as doctors, cowboys, treasure hunters, detectives, and even work through family distresses. Shows like Divorce Court popped up amidst daytime soap operas. Watching while others “aired their dirty laundry” in a TV court made us all feel better—after all, our marriages were great, right?
And since I’ve mentioned daytime soap operas, I’d be remiss if I failed to include one such show that caught my teenage mind in the late-1960s. Dark Shadows began as a run-of-the-mill Gothic drama that focused on the angst-ridden world of Victoria Winters, a single woman, alone in the world, who worked for a wealthy Massachusetts family called Collins. As a side note, I’ll mention here that my grandmother was a Collins, which endeared both me and my mother to the badly written show. Since then, I’ve learned that Collins is rumored to be one of the so-called “thirteen Illuminati” bloodlines. I assure you that my Collins branch is, if anything, “poor relation.” (Now, back to our heroine!) Miss Victoria Winters’ daily ails had begun to wear thin with audiences, and the ratings sagged, when the soap’s creator, Dan Curtis, had a brilliant idea; he would up the ante of Gothic television by adding (as Bram Stoker had done one hundred years earlier) a vampire!
Barnabas Collins drew fans to the daytime serial like coffin flies to a corpse. Teenage girls and their mothers tuned in each day to see just how poor, pitiful vampire Barnabas would extricate himself from his newest dilemma. Would he ever find his true love, Josette? Though played by a most humble looking actor, Jonathan Frid, the character of Barnabas drew massive sympathy from female viewers. Within a couple of seasons, a werewolf entered the mix as “cousin” Quentin arrived to sink his teeth into the Collins clan. Yes, the show was campy and the scripts mundane, but the mesmerism was undeniable as vampire mania took hold of teens ordinarily entangled with The Beatles or The Rolling Stones.
Vampires have, throughout the history of the virtual realm within our minds, reigned as dark knights of the realm, you might say. Whether they appear in a book or in a radio play, a stage production, or a movie, these lusty phantoms enter our minds with seemingly little resistance from us! Sin begins in the mind, and this makes our brains, our inner beings, the front line in the battle between the enemies of Christ and those who love Him. Vampires need no salvation for they will never die, yet they present themselves as ever in search of redemption. This dichotomy makes them irresistible and quite sexy in a very dark way.
The Theater of the Mind
So, we’ve had a few definitions and we’ve had a whirlwind introduction to the belief in make-believe, or better put, the war for our minds. Of course this war began in the garden, when the serpent twisted God’s word. How many times had he tempted Eve? We don’t know for certain. It may have been once; it might have been hundreds of times. No matter how many times she heard the lies, we know that Eve let her mind consider the lie, and even before she took a bite, she had sinned. Her virtual programming had taken hold, and it killed her.
How can an idea, a series of words, or even a series of images or imaginings take hold and “kill”? Well, that brings it all around, doesn’t it? For this chapter is not a primer on literature and screen but a device to get you thinking about what you see, hear, and imagine.
What exactly happens in our brains when we watch TV or go to a movie, or worse yet, play a first-person shooter video game? The brain is an amazing, God-designed, organic computer with about a million trillion (that’s a quadrillion) synapses. A synapse is the gap between neuron cells. Neurotransmitters travel back and forth across these gaps via either a chemical exchange or an electronic potential (a charge differential caused by ions exiting and entering the gap). In fact, the space required for me to describe the complex set of neuron exchanges occurring as I write this sentence would consume this entire chapter! Suffice it to say that our brains are complicated.
Within the physical brain lives another, less tangible entity called the mind. Scientifically, the mind is considered a higher function of our modern brains. Those who would deny our Creator, teach that mankind evolved over hundreds of thousands of years from a chimp-like being with a very primitive, hind brain into the current version, Homo sapiens (wise man or man with knowledge/wisdom—oh, what the occultists could do with that one!). Homo sapiens, evolutionists claim, is nothing more than a member of the ape family, and our bodies and brains have developed since the earliest known fossils (dated by their own science to circa two hundred thousand years before I began to type this).
The concept of “the mind” dates back to biblical texts, where the Hebrew word leb occurs 593 times in 550 verses. Leb refers to the inner man, our conscience, our heart, but also to our emotions, our appetites, our passions. It is often translated as “heart.” The mind is our control room, perhaps a part of our soul, and it certainly lends itself to heavenly or hellish behaviors. When our brain receives sensory input, it’s our neurons that respond chemically/electrically, but it’s the mind that decides what to do with the input. God hardened Pharaoh’s leb, his heart (we’d call it his mind, the real man) when he refused to release God’s chosen ones to worship Him.
Where is the mind located? Philosophers have argued over that for millennia. Some say the mind is outside of ourselves, others that it is a part of ourselves, still others that it exists only as a construct of our behaviors—that what we do reflects who were are, reflects our mind. For the sake of brevity, I’ll tell you that the mind must be part of us, for we are God-breathed, God-fashioned as a complete, perfect creation with free will.
The Greek word for mind is psyche, from which we derive a number of commonly used English words such as “psychology,” “psychosomatic,” and “psychotic.” What is less commonly known is that this ancient word also refers to a Greek goddess. Psyche was, interestingly enough, the Greek goddess of the soul. She is also considered the goddess of “transformation,” and it is thus no wonder that she is often painted with butterfly wings.[v]
How does mind-programming work, and does what we sense or take into our “brains” lead to changes in the “mind”? If the higher functions of our biological brains are part of free will, then some might argue that our “lower brain” leads us into less “cerebral” choices. Though such a black-and-white “brainview” is not strictly correct, we’ll leave it at that simplicity for now; otherwise, this humble chapter will morph into a megalomaniac tome.
Let’s begin with the eye.
Our eyes are marvelous creations! God fashioned our two eyes as part of our central nervous system—as such, our eyes are literally part of our brains. One of my favorite television programs is a now defunct series called Millennium, which featured weekly stories of myths and monsters that wound around an overarching story about a secretive organization called “The Millennium Group.” This mysterious group used fringe science and advanced knowledge to discern future events. In one episode called “Jose Chung’s Doomsday Defense,” the plot revolves around a group called “Selfosophists.” One might easily conclude that the Selfosophy bunch is based on Scientology, for the founder, one “Onan Goopta” is a failed scientist who decides to write a book about how the mind works. The book is an instant success, and followers sprout up all over the west coast. To maintain their link to their beliefs, the cult followers employ a bio-feedback device called an “Onanograph.” Each member is also required to ghostwrite novels with their dead founder’s name as the author. One such cheesy science fiction novel is about a roving, forensic detective (not unlike Frank Black, the main character in Millennium), but this detective is called Rocket McGraine. McGraine (played by Lance Henrickson in a blond wig and an uncharacteristic grin) says he never looks at blood because it goes “into the peepers and winds up in the cerebral cortex.”[vi] Such dark images keep McGraine from being “upbeat.”[vii]
While writer Darin Morgan takes full artistic license to poke fun at a well-known anti-psychologist, mind-controlling organization, his character Rocket McGraine’s comment on sensory input isn’t far off. What goes into the eye, inevitably interacts with the brain.
The retina (the back part of the eyeball) is composed of several layers of photoreceptor cells that interconnect with the optic nerve, sort of like a fiber optic cable. Each cell is sensitive to a particular wavelength of light. When the perfect frequency strikes a photopigment protein within the cell, this protein changes shape, which then signals a complex cascade of events, precipitating a signal to the optic nerve. The electric signal then travels along the optic nerve, crosses underneath the brain, and finally terminates at the visual cortex in the back part of the brain, where cells there interpret the picture.
This optic pathway contains other, extremely important sections of the brain that also react to light. On its way to the visual cortex, the message carried by the optic nerve transverses the “limbic system,” a collection of structures that lie underneath the brain. This system includes the hippocampus, amygdala, thalamus, hypothalamus, and a structure called the fornix (nerve fibers that connect the thalamus to the hypothalamus). The limbic system helps us to store memories, maintain our internal clock, identify smells, and even maintain “control” by interpreting situations. The tiny pineal gland is also part of the limbic system, maintaining circadian rhythms and producing melatonin, which aids in sleep. This miniscule “pinecone-shaped” gland also produces dimethyltryptophan (DMT) and has sometimes been referred to as our “third eye.”
Have you ever smelled banana bread and suddenly recalled your grandmother baking bread? Or, perhaps, you’ve heard an old song from your high school days and found yourself lost in memories. This is the limbic system at work. Physiologically, the limbic system is the emotional seat of our being. By reacting to visual, olfactory, and even auditory input, the cells within the above structures use the received information and help us choose whether to react to it, store it, or identify it.
The Limbic System on Entertainment
With this basic understanding of how our brain reacts to external stimuli, let’s now return to those television shows, video games, and movies, shall we? I want to consider specifics, so to begin with, let’s look at a love story.
In school, I minored in English, which meant I read a lot of books and wrote papers about them. I bring this up because, as my brain is struggling for how best to approach the “love story” aspect of limbic reaction, I keep thinking about how I might have argued for “romance” contained in the pages of Shelley’s Frankenstein or Stoker’s Dracula. First of all, I would define “romance” or even the commonly accepted emotion of “love,” but—while this exercise might sound trivial and unnecessary—it is central to any other assertions I might make.
Love is personal, individual, and constantly evolving. As babies, we accept one definition of love: “Oh, boy, more food!” As a toddler and growing child, we expect a more expanded definition: “Help me, wipe my tears, make me laugh, teach me, give me hugs, teach me to draw, play with me.” This “love” that we crave grows more sophisticated with age and is dependent upon many factors. Tragically, some children learn to associate love with terror, pain, anger, abandonment, or worse yet with molestation. But we can also learn this negative association by virtually experiencing it as well! Take for instance, the warped sense of love that Victor Frankenstein has for his Creature. Frankenstein hides and protects the Monster, endangering his fiancée and his friend. Consider also the way Count Dracula’s female victims “love” his mistreatment of them, eagerly giving themselves to him, even to the point of death.
But while novels can influence our internal minds, shaping and misshaping our souls, reading pales in comparison to hearing, watching, or both. Radio, then movies and television, and worst of all video games immerse our senses in a virtual world—invade our minds and teach us new thoughts, even new desires. It is these activities that send visual, auditory, and olfactory signals, filtered through the limbic system, that most distort our brains. Consider the current spate of films that fall within a new subgenre called “torture porn.” These films include, but are regretfully not limited to, the Saw series, the Hostel series, Wolf Creek, The Hills Have Eyes, and Turistas. If you’ve not seen any of these films, consider yourself blessed. Once seen, you cannot “unsee” these deeply disturbing forays into the darkest recesses of the human soul.
“Torture porn” films rely upon an ages-old association between terror and sadism. Impressionable teens watching such a film learn to be sexually stimulated by the mutilation of a screaming man or woman. Their curious minds are thrilled by the puzzles and intricate machinery that forces the victim to solve the mystery or die a horrible death—as if the resulting bloodbath is the fault of the victim for not being more clever. As teens watch these blood-spattered movies, several things happen, though we most likely don’t realize it.
One: The amygdala, part of the limbic system, processes the baser emotions such as fright, anger, but also sexual responses and desires. This is a dangerous combination in one set of cells, as we will learn.
Two: The pineal gland, stimulated by light to produce melatonin, is also stimulated by the darkness of a theater to release the hormone: melatonin makes us relax and prepare for sleep. This relaxed state leads us into a dreamy state, similar to that of a receptive hypnosis subject.
Three: Our hippocampus revs up to store and sort through all the stimuli assaulting our eyes and ears, and possibly also making associations that are less than desirable; for instance, coupling sexual arousal with inflicting pain or bloodletting.
Four: Spiritually speaking, I believe that the thoughts and patterns forming in our minds could be temporary, if we leave them and walk away, just as Eve could have walked away from the serpent’s lies. But if we nurture these new patterns and thoughts, we mull them over, we relive the movie or the video game, we play it again, we view it again, we crave the high…then, it is my assertion that the spirit world rejoices in searing our mind with sin. Our virtual experiences are seen as real sin. In Genesis 6, we see that God views the sin of imagination as important.
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
Jesus echoes this when He speaks of the sin of adultery.
“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 4:28).
Teenage minds are impressionable and eager to learn, but they are also rebellious and anxious to fly solo, untethered by the restraints of traditions and laws. This is the enemy’s playground. Do you have teenage children? Will your children soon reach these formative, dangerous years? Think about the books, videos, and computer games that they enjoy and inhabit. Yes, I used the word “inhabit” intentionally, for teens will nurture these virtual realms in their minds, daydreaming about sinful exploits, whether or not he or she realizes such thoughts are wrong. It is our responsibility to chaperone our children and assist them in defining what is pure, healthy, and sober—and what is filthy, dangerous, and addictive.
Sexy Vampires Sell
Some of you will read this next sentence and disagree with me, but I’ll make the statement nonetheless. The novel/movie franchise called The Twilight Saga is one of those dangers we should warn our children against. Young girls, many of them under ten years old, dream of winning the hand of Edward, the vampire. He is seen as a hero because he struggles to control his thirst for blood. Bella is viewed as chaste, loving, and loyal. Jacob the shape-shifter is a rogue, acting as the antagonist to Edward’s protagonist. Bella loves them both. This triangle is nothing more than the modern version of Barnabas, Josette, and Quentin from Dark Shadows.
The Twilight books are marketed as “children’s books”! Let me tell you two reasons why this is so. Firstly, it is easier to break into publishing in this category, so authors choose to write for this genre. Secondly, there is a spiritual reason, being that our children are most easily tempted, particularly when parents look the other way.
Think about the pathways and ideas that are created in the limbic system—in her mind—as your daughter reads these books or watches the Twilight movies! She learns that dark, forbidden love requires sacrifice, but that it’s worth it. She longs to be like Bella; she imagines herself as Bella, a heroine who dances with danger and desires a supernatural existence. These desires imprint themselves into your daughter’s mind, into her limbic system as conflicting responses: fear versus trust, sexuality versus pain, animal instincts versus God-given free will.
It’s Not All Good
To end this chapter, I’d like to briefly visit video games, particularly first-person shooters. As we’ve discussed, visual stimuli enter not only our eyes but also our minds via the limbic system. If you add active participation to that formula, then the result can sear and forever scar young minds like a brand. The lure of “role-playing games” (RPGs) is that the player enters a different world and becomes one of the residents. First person perspective allows us to enter this world almost as if we’re in a dream, for our minds click into step with the world’s other denizens, be they military or fantasy.
One of the most beloved role-playing games is Zelda, a series of games produced by Nintendo. I’ll admit to finding the game addictive, which is why I can speak from personal experience. On the surface, the game appears harmless. In Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, you play as the boy “Link,” who is a forest boy without a fairy. He is different, not like his friends who all have personal fairies. The game begins as a “Great Deku Tree” sends a fairy to you (playing as “Link,” although you can name the character whatever you choose). This fairy tells you that you’re special, that you must fight your way to the tree and receive your instructions. As it turns out, you are not a Kokiri forest child, but that you are actually the Hero of Time. From here, you achieve levels, attain powers, weapons, and even learn to cast spells to defeat the evil tyrant, Ganon.
This is the basic theme of most of the Zelda games, though they differ from system to system, and from title to title. In Zelda: Majora’s Mask and Zelda: Twilight Princess, you can morph into a variety of creatures, each with its own power. Often, the characters or stories are based on Japanese myths, thereby seeding Shintoism and New Age tenets into the minds of young players. Such teachings mirror and complement that of anime, a Japanese form of cartoon animation that features cannibalism, vampires, exorcisms, alchemy, and other dark themes. Sometimes, anime productions are aimed at a very young market; many of us remember the Pokemon fad. Others target older children, utilizing more adult themes in graphic novel form. The very nature of a “cartoon” (as we in the West would name it) is one that draws in young viewers.
First-person perspective is taken to the ultimate degree in “first-person shooters” (FPS). This genre is often militaristic in theme, usually a 3-D environment, and plays on the baser human failings: lust for power, sensuality, cannibalism, hatred, racism, sado-masochism, and even Satanism. One of the earliest FPS offerings was Doom. Here, the player must fight demons who inhabit a martian moon—all to protect Earth. This storyline makes your job heroic, just like in the aforementioned Zelda franchise. In fact, it is a common theme in video games—“if you don’t do it, no one will.” In case you’ve never seen a FPS screenshot, let me describe it for you. The viewpoint is as if YOU, the player, are holding the rifle, sword, or other weapon, and you “sight” down the barrel, blasting away at whatever gets in your way. As gaming graphics has advanced over time, the resulting blood-spatter has grown dramatically realistic. In fact, the overall graphics these days can trick the eye and mind to make it all seem very real.
Needless to say, the militaries of the world use FPS to train cadets. Soldiers, they explain, must kill without stopping to think about it. Video games provide the perfect environment for training these warriors up in the way that they should go—do unto your enemy before he has a chance to do unto you. Doom is notorious for being the alleged favorite game of Columbine killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. In fact, the parents of some of the victims tried but failed to prove this in a lawsuit against “id Software” (the company that released Doom; a subsidiary of ZeniMax media). However, just because the families lost, one cannot conclude that software companies have no responsibility. Let us be reasonable! If the U.S. military began using FPS simulations to train their soldiers, then are such games appropriate for teens and pre-teens? Immersion is the aim of virtual reality—to so blend truth with fiction that we cease to discern the difference.
End Credits; Game Over
And this salient point brings me to my final theory about the virtual experience that influences our minds. Is it possible that the very spirits who rejoice at the bloodletting done in secret ceremonies of the occult might find virtual bloodletting equally satisfying? Are our movie theaters and gaming consoles the post-modern form of ancient high places and sex groves? Understand, please, that I am not condemning an entire film industry; I am merely crying out against dark deeds done in darkened spaces. The sights and sounds of torture porn, vampirism, cannibalism, Satanism, human sacrifice, animism, New Age philosophy, Shintoism, demon worship, self-mutilation, and any and all activities that defy the Law of God and defile the humanity for whom Christ died—such images, viewed either from the third-person perspective or, even worse, from the first-person—these are images to be shunned at all cost, for they rush madly into our brains with but one intent: to steal our souls.
UP NEXT: A New Hypothesis about Alien Abductions
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