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Legalized Mind Control Part 1
HARRY POTTER & THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE
August 3, 2005
As Potter-passion soars to new heights, it's time to take another look at the young wizard's influence on Christian beliefs. After all, the sixth book in Ms. Rowling's spine-tingling adventures into the world of the occult has broken all records. Almost 7 million copies were sold in the United States in its first 24 hours - averaging better than 250,000 sales per hour! What is happening? Why is Harry's virtual world so enticing? Could this new mythology become the great equalizer of religions -- fusing Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Christian communities with 21st century paganism?
An anonymous visitor to our website illustrates its enchanting power to deceive "Christian" youth:
Some very specific lines have been drawn by God. To guard us from dangers we can't even grasp, our loving Father set clear boundaries that we would be wise to heed. For example, He tells us that anyone practicing witchcraft, sorcery, spell-casting, necromancy or divination (all occult skills that Harry learns and practices at Hogwarts Schools of Witchcraft and Wizardry) is an "abomination." [Deut 18:10-12] What does that tell us about God's attitude toward spiritual models such as Harry and Dumbledore? How does it relate to His warning in Romans 12:9: "Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good."
If those questions offend you, you may want to stop reading right here. I'm not trying to "impose my beliefs" on you or force you to hear what you don't want to know. But if you want to understand the power of a tantalizing story and how to guard your children's minds from the almost overwhelming pressure to conform and compromise, please join me in examining some timeless strategies of the mastermind behind all the corruption in the world.
USING THE IMAGINATION TO CREATE VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE
The human imagination is key to transformation! Impressionable and gullible, it asks few questions and rarely resists deception. Through it, occult images and suggestions take on life-like dimensions that can distort and change our values more effectively than can facts or actual reality. It's no coincidence that educational change agents want to train children to use and follow this popular alternative to rational thinking. Conditioned to respond to exciting suggestions with their imagination rather than intellect, children can easily be led and manipulated. [See "Brainwashing in America"]
Dr. Donald A. Cowan, president emeritus of the University of Dallas, summarized the strategy well. "What will take the place of logic, fact and analysis in the coming age?" he asked. Then he gave the following reply to his own rhetorical question:
"The central way of thought for this new era will be imagination.... Imagination will be the active, creative agent of culture, transforming brute materials to a higher, more knowable state."
Of course, this vulnerability of our imagination is not lost on our wise Maker. He told us that "...the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth." [Genesis 8:21] And in Matthew 5:28, He equates the moral impact of imagining something with the actual deed. ("...whoever ?looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.")
The fact that enthusiastic Potter fans "merely" imagine the spell-casting, hexing, and deadly cursing doesn't nullify the impact of the mental images. So, for the peace and safety of our hearts, we are told not to entertain these things in our minds! That may sound intolerant to those who have reinvented a more positive or permissive god for our times, but our human denial doesn't change the heart or will of our sovereign God. It only shuts Him out, leaving us to rely on our own futile resources. [Proverbs 1:27-33]
God has good reasons for warning us to shun virtual as well as actual occultism. Our minds may be able to separate the two, but our emotions blur those divisions. Think about it. Potter fans are saddened by the deaths of fictional heroes as well as real-life heroes. In their minds, they cheer each winning spell cast by Harry -- just as they cheer a homerun by a favorite athlete. In the imagination, fantasy and reality flow together.
So do the light and dark forces of the occult. Harry's adventures lead you to imagine that the young wizard's magic is good and Voldemort's magic is evil, but in reality, the power behind both remains the same. Both rely on (1) a focused, intentional command of the human will and (2) some kind of occult formula designed to invoke a supernatural force. While the "dark side" seems more deadly, the "light side" is far more deceptive. People let down their guard, because it feels good, not evil. It seems exciting, not frightening.
Look with me at the following scenes from the latest book. They show some encounters fans enter into vicariously with Harry and his friends -- and his enemies. What kinds of belief and values do they plant into "open" minds? What worldview do they seal in the reader's memory? In the first encounter, you meet Professor Snape, Harry's hostile old "Potions" instructor, who has now been promoted to teaching "Defense Against the Dark Arts."
The key character in the next scene is Ginny Weasley, Ron's younger sister and Harry's secret love. Some will remember that in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, she was possessed and controlled by the evil Voldemort after finding his old diary implanted with a portion of his soul. What kinds of values might it transmit to the reader?
STIRRING UP EMOTIONS AND CREATING MEMORIES
Our minds are far more receptive to contrary values than we like to think. And the more these occult images and suggestion arouse our emotions -- whether love, laughter, fear, hate or rage -- the more effectively they plant new values in our minds and seal those values in our memory. As a result, youth around the world have learned to love evil and despise truth -- just as God warns us: "You love evil more than good...." Psalm 52:3
July 16th illustrated this principle well. The anticipated release of Book 6 stirred excitement and fierce loyalty around the world! At 12.01 AM, hundreds of thousands of children from America to Australia were lined up at their nearest bookstore to receive their coveted copy of Harry's latest adventures. Dressed in black capes, glasses and pointed hats -- and with scars on their foreheads and wands in hand -- they celebrated the Potter domain of tantalizing power and mystical thrills.
'I'm a fanatic,'' announced 14-year-old Ashley, who apparently has read each of the first five books about five times each. "I love reading them. They get you hooked.'' Her sister Lauren, 10, confirmed Ashley's zeal. "She takes them everywhere,'' she said.''
Of course, Harry Potter is not the first character -- real or fictional -- who learned how to excite the masses through evocative imagery and clever words. China's revered leader Mao Zedong knew well the power of "emotion work." That's why he so effectively won the hearts of the people. He knew how to stir "bitterness" against landowners, hatred toward Christians, love for communism, and a sacrificial spirit that would give its all to his totalitarian reign. By identifying and isolating the key "enemy" as the most threatening evil, the new evils no longer seem so bad.
Some of Mao's strategies, now seen in churches as well as other organizations, were described by Elizabeth J. Perry in a report given at Harvard University in the spring of 2000. Referring to the manipulative effects of myth-making fantasy (here expressed through community theater rather than books, but with similar effect), she said,
"The growth of the revolutionary movement was marked by increasing attention to the importance of 'emotion-raising' in the process of mass mobilization.
"Theater was a critical means of eliciting an emotional reaction that was used intentionally to solidify popular commitment. ... Staged public performances have constituted the very heart and soul of the Chinese Communist revolution.... This is not to imply, however, that the emotions expressed in such contexts are somehow phony or inauthentic. A distinctive facet of human feelings is of course their ambivalence and malleability; the genius of the CCP approach lay in its capacity to appreciate and capitalize on this fundamental reality."
When Ms. Rowling wrote the first book, she could neither foresee nor plan the influence she would one day wield. The story, she said, came to her mind long ago as she was riding the train.' But many others are intentionally riding on her coattails. Her U.S. publisher, Scholastic, has prepared public school curricula based on its pagan world view. Churches have designed Harry Potter Sunday school lessons and small group dialogues -- a growth-producing "carrot' for engaging children and youth in fun "learning" activities. Much of the learning takes place in small groups through the dialectic process. Led by a teacher/facilitator, they are trained to think dialectically -- for the sake of unity and tolerance, they practice reconciling relevant opposites.
But how do you reconcile opinions dealing with Christianity versus paganism, unity versus separation, good versus evil, etc.? What attitudes would the children learn from each other concerning good and evil in the Harry Potter books?
It would be natural for them to reconcile the conflicts between pagan myths and Biblical truth by redefining traditional words, find more tolerant interpretations of the Bible, rationalize away Biblical boundaries, and cheer the group consensus. They might even celebrate their new-found "freedom" to "think outside the box" of the increasingly offensive Bible. But none of those "solutions" can counter the truth of Scriptures such as these:
"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness.... Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!" Isaiah 5:20-21
Consider the next example. Harry and his classmates are listening to the effusive Professor Slughorn, the potions teacher who replaced Professor Snape. He shows them a bottle of golden liquid, which Harry soon "won" by somewhat dubious means:
"Sensory immersion helps learners grasp reality through illusion," wrote Harvard Professor Chris Dede, a global leader in the development of education technology programs.
Of course, the "reality" these "learners" grasp through "sensory immersion" is not true reality, but a pleasing illusion -- a pseudo-reality designed to please our human nature and change the way we think. These illusions seduce adults and children alike. Knowing the difference between truth and fiction doesn't really matter. We may be perfectly aware that a carrot or piece of chicken will serve our body better than a piece of candy, yet our feelings drive us to choose the latter. [See The Power of Suggestion"]
Through television, movies, music and ads, most Americans are immersed in a sensory environment that bombard their minds and emotions. Without any effort of our own, we are trained to be receptive and "open-minded." Yet, we are poorly prepared to resist these cultural pressures. Today's postmodern ideas -- which mock facts, truth and certainty -- have stripped away the mental tools needed to make wise choices. And with each repetition, the deceptions become more believable.
"...till at last the child's mind is these suggestions, and the sum of the suggestions is the child's mind," wrote Aldous Huxley over seventy years ago in Brave New World. "And not the child's mind only. The adult's mind too -- all his life long. The mind that judges and desires and decides -- made up of these suggestions."
When children are so captivated by Harry Potter that they read each book again and again, discuss it among their friends, dialogue in classroom groups and write "fan fiction" based on the myth, they "make it their own." Their minds and emotions are so "at home" in the story, that their old familiar home might even seems strange and foreign in comparison.
A former student at Clinton's Governor's School in Arkansas, who had happily read and played in an unreal learning environment isolated from his family, summarized it well: "The students. . . say, 'This is the perfect place. I never want to go home.' I caught myself saying that several times."
This Governor's school for future leaders had embraced several key brainwashing techniques that help us understand today's strategies for change:
"It would be impossible for me to describe to you just how exciting and unusual this educational adventure is," said former Governor Bill Clinton. That was before one former student became so depressed that he committed suicide.
Immersing children and youth in a wildly exciting pagan belief system will change their minds, memories, beliefs and values. "Christian" fans who find the story irresistible will face cognitive dissonance, a form of mental and emotional confusion. To social and educational change agents, this intentional dissonance is an essential step in the process of "unfreezing" minds and "opening" them up to a new way of thinking. It occurs when the child tries to reconcile the shocking new suggestions with the beliefs they learned from their parents.
The next scene involves three characters so obviously evil that Harry and other "good" occultists seem almost saintly by comparison. The three villains serve Voldemort, the ultimate evil in the story. Narcissa is the mother of Harry's taunting classmate Draco Malfoy. Her sister Bellatrix, a member of Voldemort's cruel army of Death Eaters, killed Harry's "godfather" Sirius Black and tortured to death the parents of Harry's friend Neville using an excruciating spell. Consider the impact of the following occult suggestions on a child who had been learning to see reality from a Biblical perspective.
This vow, made early in the book, was fulfilled at the end. The hateful Professor Snape -- who turns out to be the mysterious Half-blood Prince -- did what Harry's hostile classmate Draco Malfoy failed to do: kill Albus Dumbledore as the revered schoolmaster lay injured near the top of a staircase. But this fictional tragedy will probably strengthen Harry's influence in the real world. For -- just as terrorism justifies increased government surveillance -- this evil deed helps justify Harry's use of dark magic to finish his unbiblical mission.
ISOLATION AND UNCERTAINTY
Though millions of children around the world are now absorbing the message in Book 6, most of them make this dark and disturbing journey into the occult realm alone. Unless the book is read aloud in a group setting, each reader encounters Harry, Dumbledore, Snape, and the Death Eaters through their own minds and imagination. Even if parents discuss the action afterwards, each individual reader must face the ominous atmosphere, the lighthearted spells, the cutting remarks, and the murderous cruelty alone. No one else shares their personal reactions as they turn each page.
Once planted in the mind, those memories will continue to color a child's view of God. They will probably stir cravings for more occult thrills. Each new book and reading will reinforce the person's growing familiarity with forbidden realms. Few realize that the actual world of the occult is far darker and more frightening than they can conceive. And few know God and His Word well enough to discern the spiritual distortions. Those vital Scriptures seem alien to those who have embraced the postmodern mindset.
I have received many letters from children, youth, parents, pastors and teachers who all claim to be Christians yet love Harry Potter. Their emotional arguments show that their understanding of God's Word has been compromised beyond recognition. In many cases, their expressed faith fits right into the spiritual transformation I described in The Rising World Religion.
God alone can lead us safely through the tempting lures and illusions that bombard our children in this thrill-seeking culture. And He proves His faithfulness again and again to those who trust Him.
I was speaking at a Sunday School Convention about 15 years ago on the topic, "The Unholy Power of Charms and Symbols." Parents and teachers were still crowding into the small auditorium, when I began showing transparencies of simple symbols such as the yin-yang, the peace symbol, and the ankh. We discussed their meanings -- and why their popularity has skyrocketed today.
I showed my compound symbols, but had not had time to prepare a transparency with the multifaceted Theosophical symbol. So I began to draw its many parts on a clear transparency: first, a large circle, then two overlapping triangles forming a hexagram, then a small pentagram and swastika…. Suddenly, something large and dark hit me hard in the chest. For a moment I lost both my balance and my breath. Then, in a flash, I knew what was happening. I had made myself vulnerable by unwittingly performing what might have been a ritual with mediaeval alchemy and other religious traditions.
Still in front of the crowd and the microphone, I cried out, "Forgive me, Lord! Cover me with your blood. In the name of Jesus Christ, I declare Your victory over the evil one. In You, we are 'more than conquerors!' Thank you, Jesus, my Lord and my King!"
As fast as it came, the entity disappeared. I apologized to the startled audience, asking their forgiveness for foolishly, though unintentionally, inviting this evil. Then we all thanked God for His lesson and protection.
Among the people gathered around me afterwards was a woman who said, "I think I know what happened to you. While you were drawing that symbol, the man sitting next to me was moving his hands in strange ways and murmuring something as if he was casting a spell. He may have come to bring occult interference."
Only our sovereign, omniscient God knows exactly what happened that day. I may not fully understand the details of the ongoing and intensifying spiritual war operating in the unseen, but He impressed on our minds two important lessons: (1) The reality and power of the evil one operating in the physical as well as the spiritual world we inhabit. (2) The victory we have in Christ who makes us "more than conquerors" when we know, love and follow Him.
strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole
armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of
the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against
principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of
this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand
in the evil day, and having done all, to stand...." Ephesians 6:10-13
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Arthur A. Levine
Books, Scholastic Inc., 2005), page 522.
© 2005 Berit Kjos - All Rights Reserved
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Berit Kjos is a widely respected researcher, writer and conference speaker. A frequent guest on national radio and television programs, Kjos has been interviewed on Point of View (Marlin Maddoux), The 700 Club, Bible Answer Man, Beverly LaHaye Live, Crosstalk and Family Radio Network. She has also been a guest on "Talk Back Live" (CNN) and other secular radio and TV networks. Her last two books are A Twist of Faith and Brave New Schools. Kjos Ministries Web Site: http://www.crossroad.to/index.html
Jason's story illustrates a phenomenon that is changing the spiritual climate around the world. After decades of immersion in psycho-social strategies such as "values clarification" and "critical thinking" through the public schools, the new generation has little tolerance for absolute truths and moral values.