Ed. Note: Glen Iverson is a student with Koinonia Institute and this article is part of his coursework toward his Gold Medallion. The opinions expressed in this article are his own and are not necessarily those of the ministry.
As one looks at the culture in America, we can ask ourselves why there is so much hostility to the Christian worldview in government, education and entertainment.
Understanding the impact of the 1960s counterculture is important on the course of culture in America, but then one would wonder why there was even a counterculture in the first place. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy when describing men’s character in the last days, he states: “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13 KJV). As it can be shown to be living in the last days for a number of reasons, the expectation should be that men are seducers and deceptive. While there is more than one contributing factor to America’s embracement of the New Age, in addition to the removal of prayer in school in 1962 and teaching evolution, I would add the entertainment industry.
Hollywood and the entertainment industry has been the primary vehicle moving western culture to embrace New Age spirituality due to the emotional appeal of well-crafted film making, music, and celebrity influence. While America’s guard was down in the era of Family Values, occultism in programming directed at children may have opened a door to acceptance of the rise in occultism and New Age doctrines, which came out of the 60s. Those same “baby boomer” children were the teens of the 60s counterculture.
Paul in his letter to the Ephesians points out that we are to watch for and expose deception:
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
— Ephesians 5:6–11 (KJV)
Deceive comes from the Greek word ἀπατάω, apatao, meaning “to cheat”. Darkness from the Greek σκότος, skotos, which is a metaphor in this context referring to ignorance of divine things and human duties and the accompanying ungodliness and immorality. Expose is from the Greek ἐλέγχω, elegcho, meaning to bring to the light with a suggestion of shame for the person convicted. We are not only to be aware of deception, but when we discover deception, we are to expose it.
In summary, do not be cheated. Have nothing to do with ignorance of divine things and ungodliness, but rather bring light on the darkness to expose it because you are now light in the Lord: so walk as children of light.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he states: “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15: 33–34 KJV). Manners comes from the Greek ἦθος, ēthos, meaning “character or moral habits”. The English word ethics comes from this word. So again, we are not to be deceived, evil communication corrupts our character and ethics.
While deception can be shown throughout history, electronic media is unique to the world we live in. We should expect deception from media. While anybody can be deceived by media, there is an abundance of programming directed at children. Hitler stated in a 1935 Reichsparteitag speech: “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future” (Hitler, 1935). The founder of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey has a number of quotes regarding his thoughts on TV.
In The Devil’s Notebook, he states:
Many of you have already read my writings identifying TV as the new god. There is a little thing I neglected to mention up until now — TV is the major mainstream infiltration of the New Satanic Religion. The birth of TV was a magical event foreshadowing its satanic significance. The first commercial broadcast was aired on Walpurgisnacht, April 30, 1939, at the New York World’s Fair. Since then, TV’s infiltration has been so gradual, so complete that no one even noticed. People don’t need to go to church anymore; they get their morality plays on TV.
As it can be shown by the quote, LaVey believed TV is a major component of what he calls the “New Satanic Religion.”
LaVey is not alone in his belief that TV is programming. Author and researcher Neil Sanders states:
When you watch TV, you go into an alpha state brainwave pattern, which is technically a hypnotic trance. The brain activity slows and the subconscious which has no critical analysis, is spoken to directly. This is a one way conversation with the part of your brain that stores learned behavior. (Sanders Kindle 1589)
The popular term “zoning out” when watching “programming” may not just be a figurative term, it’s quite possibly literal.
By appealing to naturally occurring manifestations of ‘herd mentality’ and ‘group think’, large numbers of people can have their opinions and actions dictated. The larger the group, the harder it is for an individual to stand opposed to their ethos. Therefore, the larger a group, the more easily they are coerced into a specific action or mind-frame. (Sanders Kindle 1584)
In short, Sanders is saying that in watching TV you go into a hypnotic trance and when many people are in this state, such as in a theatre, an individual will find it more difficult to go against the majority. Try an experiment yourself, go into a popular Disney movie and on exit state that the magic portrayed is occult propaganda. You will not be popular that day.
Before the rise of mass media Edward Bernays already recognized the potential for “programming.” He states:
The American motion picture is the greatest unconscious carrier of propaganda in the world today. It is a great distributor for ideas and opinions. The motion picture can standardize the ideas and habits of a nation. Because pictures are made to meet market demands, they reflect, emphasize and even exaggerate broad popular tendencies, rather than stimulate new ideas and opinions. (Bernays 156)
Motion picture and later TV is a means of influence and propaganda. The advertising industry is well aware of this and uses this medium and celebrities to sell products since the onset of it. Further to selling dish soap and consumables, the founder of the Church of Satan recognized “Satanic significance” in it.
Can this medium be used to propagate the New Age? First, we need to define what is meant by the term “New Age Movement.” John Gordon Melton writing for the Encyclopedia Britannica defines the New Age as follows:
New Age movement, movement that spread through the occult and metaphysical religious communities in the 1970s and 80s. It looked forward to a “New Age” of love and light and offered a foretaste of the coming era through personal transformation and healing. The movement’s strongest supporters were followers of modern esotericism, a religious perspective that is based on the acquisition of mystical knowledge and that has been popular in the West since the second century AD, especially in the form of Gnosticism. Ancient Gnosticism was succeeded by various esoteric movements through the centuries, including Rosicrucianism in the 17th century and Freemasonry, theosophy, and ritual magic in the 19th and 20th centuries.
In the late 19th century Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, cofounder of the Theosophical Society, announced a coming New Age. She believed that theosophists (who embraced Buddhist and Brahmanic notions such as reincarnation) should assist the evolution of the human race and prepare to cooperate with one of the Ascended Masters of the Great White Brotherhood whose arrival was imminent. (Melton web)
John P. Newport in The New Age Movement and the Biblical Worldview defines the New Age in a similar fashion as the Encyclopedia Britannica:
It packages itself in culturally attractive and appealing wrappings. This group includes thinkers with environmental, transformational and holistic-health agendas.
The ‘occult’ side becomes part of our culture by more openly appropriating exotic spiritual beliefs. Members of this group immerse themselves in channeling, or receiving messages from spiritual masters risen to beyond the earth realms.
It’s worldview is one of occult mysticism spelled out in secular terms. (Newport 3)
Author and researcher Walter Martin also defines the New Age as occultism:
In the turbulent decade of the 1970s, an explosion of occult knowledge occurred, saturating the Western world with the potent seeds of new perspective. A strange blend of 19th century Spiritism, mysticism and humanism, it took the name the New Age movement and quickly evolved into a bolder, more organized revival of ancient occultism. It was a new title with an ancient goal: the penetration of all areas of culture — political, educational and religious — with man at the center of the universe. (Martin 189)
As it can be shown from both secular and Christian sources, the New Age is a form of enticing occultism.
Going back to Hitler’s quote: “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future” (Hitler, 1935), how is New Age occultism promoted to children? Although there are many movies, TV programming, books and video games promoting occultism to children today, this started with Disney. Disney’s earliest movie “Snow White” in 1937 uses magic as a major theme in the storyline. This theme of “good and bad magic” continues as a theme in a majority of Disney’s cartoons in addition to the supernatural portrayal of talking animals. In fact, Disney’s tagline is “The Magic Kingdom.” The Bible speaks strongly against witchcraft in a number of places so even though it’s popular with many Christians, Disney in no way promotes a Christian worldview and in fact promotes a New Age worldview.
How popular is Disney? In addition to the fantasy-based animation, Disney was a groundbreaker in the 1950s by having a theme park as a travel destination for families. This shows that a Disney animation is not just a onetime event to view on a movie screen, but families can embrace the “Magic Kingdom” by spending their family vacations immersing children in the “magic” experience to continue the fantasy. During opening year in 1955, Disney had its one-millionth visitor. By 1965, 50 million have visited. (Disneyland Attendance Info)
In a promotional book for Disney, the author states of Disney World:
Disney magic is even more elusive. Some say it is in the attractions, some say it is in the atmosphere, and some credit the can-do attitude of the Cast Members. But nearly everyone who visits the parks agrees: The magic is there; they just can’t quite put their finger on where. And like the magician, Disney’s magic also lies in the slight of hand, the hidden detail.” (Vesness 3)
While the author is speaking figuratively about magic, Disney movies and the Disney experience makes “magic” attractive to its target audience which is children ranging in age from toddlers to teens. The word “magic” is now synonymous with Mickey Mouse in Fantasia and the Disney Kingdom instead of the words of God which state in Exodus 22:18: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (KJV).
Why focus this trend on the 1950s instead of today? While there are a number of geopolitical and cultural events that happen in each decade, those decades are also looked at by how it is generally remembered. For instance, the 1920s are remembered as the “Roaring 20s” for its excess in materialism and hedonism. After World War I, America partied. Following the “Roaring 20s” was the “Dirty Thirties” characterized by financial depression and drought. The 1940s are characterized by World War II while the 1950s, despite civil unrest and the Korean War is fondly remembered as the “Fabulous Fifties.” Not only as a tag line, but as Americana characterized by a resurgence of evangelical Christianity and family values. It was during this period in history that “family values America” had their guard down and Disney movies as well as the Magic Kingdom surged in popularity. Those “baby boomer” children watching Disney in the 40s and 50s were teens and young adults in the 60s embracing the “Counterculture.”
The 1960s is remembered in American history for not only the Vietnam War, but also the counterculture movement or “hippie generation.” These are the same “baby boomer” children rebelling against family values and embracing the beginnings of the New Age movement brought in by popular music of the era. It was only 10 years from the debut of Elvis and Buddy Holly to disapproval by the parents of the 1950s to the opening of the Church of Satan and the Summer of Love in 1967.
While Disney revolutionized the way children and youth can interact with entertainment, it was not the only cultural phenomena brought on by entertainment. The movie Star Wars was released in 1977 to an opening weekend of $1.5 million. At a mere $11 million budget, “Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope” went on to gross over $1 billion dollars. However, just as with Disney, Star Wars is not just a movie.
With toy franchising, Star Wars, like Disney was an all-engrossing fantasy for children of all ages. While there were other science fiction movies and stories before Star Wars, nothing in the science fiction genre was received with as much cultural impact. before the release of Star Wars, Star Trek gained popularity in syndication as the series only ran 3 seasons. It was not until after Star Wars and the public’s interest in science fiction that the Star Trek movie franchise started.
Star Wars is not simply a story in a movie as any fan of the movie will tell you. Star Wars itself is a religion with a belief system and conferences worldwide with fans dressed in character.
Geisler and Howe state the following with regard to the “Force”, which is the major theme of the Star Wars mythology:
We say that the Force best fits a conceptual model of God that is “mostly pantheistic” (in which all that is real is part of God) because many of the truth claims about the Force fit the pantheistic model well. One clear example of this can be heard when Obi Wan explained that the Force is, “an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.” This fits the pantheistic and panentheistic models of God well. But we also recognize that George Lucas and his saga are highly syncretistic and not every claim about the Force fits one single model. Other religio-philosophical claims about the Force in Star Wars seem to have been influenced by elements from Zoroastrian dualism, Manichean dualism, Taoism, Qigong, Prana, Zen Buddhism and Stoicism. With some exceptions, many of these elements fit very naturally with pantheism. (Geisler & Howe 96)
Howe and Geisler give a great summary regarding the force which lines up with the Star Wars wiki. The wiki describes the Force as follows: “The Force was a metaphysical, spiritual, binding, and ubiquitous power that held enormous importance for both the Jedi and Sith monastic orders. Known as the Way in ancient times, the Force was viewed in many different aspects, including, but not limited to, the light side, the dark side, the Living Force, the Unifying Force, the Cosmic Force and the Physical Force.”
While it can be said that overzealous fans of a fictional film are taking it way too seriously, the fact remains that there is a recognized religion based on the film. A religion that fits a pantheistic and panentheistic model of God, which is embraced by the New Age.
Researcher Tom Horn makes some observations that take things one step further:
According to New Agers, the “Force” is revealed during significant times in world history, and modern followers look for the imminent appearing of the next divinely born World Teacher who will, as Jesus did, illustrate the divine Force living within and around us. In this way, New Age theology prepares the world for the coming of the False Prophet and thus the Antichrist.
This is the picture:
- A group of divinely born and ascended masters is in tune with the Force.
- Because of divine birth, the Force lives in the blood of each master.
- Occasionally, a new master is born equally in tune with the Force.
- The new master illustrates how others can live in harmony with the Force then takes his place among the ascended masters.
- Another master will come along at the right time to help us feeble humans.
While Disney opened the door to occultism and the supernatural which was embraced by the youth of the 60s, Star Wars openly promotes the religion of “The Force.” While one cannot deny the marketing aspect of this promotion as licensing of products has made George Lucas a billionaire, there is also the spiritual worldview aspect of this that cannot be denied. It is interesting to note that in 2012 Disney purchased Lucasfilm for $4 billion dollars. (Krantz, et al.)
Lucasfilm was previously 100 percent owned by founder George Lucas. Disney will be releasing the new Star Wars film “The Force Awakens” in December 2015 to continue the New Age themes built into the mythology of the films that are consistent with Disney’s “Magic Kingdom.” The current promotional poster for “The Force Awakens” features prominent “one eye” symbolism, which is also featured in many other “New Age” themed entertainment.
Other than Star Wars fans being trouble makers on census forms by claiming to be a Jedi and dressing up in costumes at conventions, has the Star Wars phenomenon actually impacted our societies world view? While promoting a New Age worldview through the franchise mythology of “The Force,” Star Wars has significantly increased the popularity of the concept of aliens and life “out there…” Star Wars is a completely fictional fantasy realm that has no reference to Earth. It takes place “… a long time ago in a galaxy far away.” However if there is life “out there” why wouldn’t those aliens visit Earth?
UFOlogy and UFO cults are also associated with the New Age. According to John Newport: “In one sense, nineteenth-century Spiritualism and 20th-century UFOism belong in the same category. Both spiritualism and UFOism presuppose an order of spiritually significant beings between the human and ultimate reality, with which one can have conversational and disciplic relationships,” (Newport 183)
Media is not simply a form of “entertainment” or something to do when we are bored. It is programming. The advertising industry realizes this and has been manipulating us to buy unnecessary products need since TV started. However, it is not just programming us to buy a new car or cleaning product, it is programming us to accept worldviews as observed by founder of the Church of Satan, Anton LeVay among many others. While there are elements in children’s “programming” that may appeal to adults, the “programming” is directed at children as children watch the same shows multiple times. Those same children who were the Baby Boomers of the 50s and part of the counterculture in the 60s are leaders in politics and business today. As western culture has embraced the New Age on many levels, entertainment promoting a “New Age” worldview can be shown to have played a big part in it.
American culture is no longer a Christian culture. Many people have in fact called America “post-Christian.” Not only has secular culture embraced New Age thought, the Evangelical church has trends embracing New Age thought. There are many similarities between the “Law of Attraction” and the “Word Faith” movement as well as various aspects of the “Charismatic” trends. Apparently, the world has influenced the church more than the church in influencing the world.
With laws being passed that limit freedom of speech, schools and universities hostile to a Biblical world view and the popular entertainment system with music and movies openly promoting New Age philosophies, there is nothing that can be done with votes and protests that will change America back to the “Fabulous ‘50s.” Christians are now outsiders and wanting their culture back. It is gone. Christians and conservatives in general are portrayed as “the villain” in America and western culture, which are only a couple steps away from persecution. While there is a Christian eschatology labeled “Dominion Mandate” by leaders in Charismatic circles, where it is taught that Christians are to reclaim the seven “mountains” of influence, including media, education and government, this idea falls somewhere between laughable and delusional. The Bible in fact does not command Christians to take over a secular, pagan nation. John does say however to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15 KJV).
There are no examples of Jesus and the writers of the New Testament that suggest that followers of Jesus are to claim Rome for Christ. Jesus simply said in Matthew 28:19 to “teach (disciple) all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” The world is growing darker, not brighter which perfectly lines up with scripture. Jesus points out that there will be deception, war, famine, pestilence and earthquakes in Matthew 24:7, but adds “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” In verse 8. (KJV). Paul in his second letter to Timothy points out that in the last days “perilous times will come” (2 Timothy 1 KJV). What is happening was predicted 2000 years ago. This then begs the question of what can be done. This can be summed up with three points.
To do this will involve not only commitment and persistence, but also prayer.
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