- TABLE OF CONTENTS
- WAR ROOM -
STUDY - MORAL
ISSUES - KING
JAMES BIBLE - CULTS
Pokemon and Magic Cards
Who are the strange little creatures from Japan that have suddenly become global super-stars? Most kids know the answer well: They are called Pokemon (short for POCKEt MONster and pronounced Pokeymon), and they have stirred up some mixed reactions.
"We just sent a letter home today saying Pokemon cards are no longer allowed on campus," said Paula Williams, a second-grade teacher in Danville, California. "The kids know they're supposed to be put away when they come in from recess, but they're often in the middle of a trade, so they don't come in on time. In the more extreme cases, the older kids are getting little kids to trade away valuable cards . . . . It drives a teacher crazy."
It concerns parents even more. "Recently, my children were given a set of Pokemon cards," said DiAnna Brannan, a Seattle mom. "They are very popular with the children at our church and elsewhere. I was instantly suspicious but couldn't discern the problem. We have since been told that they are stepping stones to the 'Magic cards' that have been popular for the last few years, which we do not allow."
She is right. For instance, any child exploring the most popular Pokemon websites " 2 will be linked to a selection of occult games such as Sailor Moon, Star Wars, and others more overtly evil. A click on the ad for "Magic: the Gathering" brings Pokemon fans to a site offering promotions such as this:
"A global games phenomenon, Magic: The Gathering is to the 1990s what Dungeons and Dragons was to the 1980s, but with the added dimension of collectibility. Here is the official reference to the biggest new teen/young adult fantasy game of the decade, complete with full-color reproductions of every existing Magic card."
The above websites gives us glimpse of the mysterious little creatures called Pokemon. Ponder the suggestions in this greeting:
"Welcome to the world of Pokemon, a special place where people just like you train to become the number-one Pokemon Master in the World!"
"But what is a Pokemon, you ask. 'Pokemon are incredible creatures that share the world with humans,' says Professor Oak, the leading authority on these monsters. "There are currently 150 documented species of Pokemon. . . . Each Pokemon has its own special fighting abilities. . . . Some grow, or evolve, into even more powerful creatures.. . . Carry your pokemon with you, and you're ready for anything! You've got the power in your hands, so use it!"." 3
What if children try to follow this advice? What if they carry their favorite monsters like magical charms or fetishes in their pockets, trusting them to bring power in times of need?
Many do. It makes sense to those who watch the television show. In a recent episode, Ash, the boy hero, had just captured his fifth little Pokemon. But that wasn't good enough, said his mentor. He must catch lots more if he wants to be a Pokemon master. And the more he catches and trains, the more power he will have for future battles.
So Ash sets out again in search for more of the reclusive, power-filled, little Pokemon. His first step is to find the "psychic Pokemon" called Kadabra and snatch it from its telepathic, pink-eyed trainer, Sabrina. With the ghost Haunter on his side, it should be a cinch!
But Ash had underestimated the power of his opponent. When he and Sabrina meet for the battle, both hurl their chosen Pokemon into the air, but only Kadabra evolves into a super-monster with a magic flash. Haunter hides. "Looks like your ghost Pokemon got spooked," taunts Sabrina.
Obviously, Ash didn't understand the supernatural powers he had confronted. Neither do most young Pokeman fans today. Unless they know God and His warnings, they cannot understand the forces that have captivated children around the world. And if parents underestimate the psychological strategies behind its seductive mass marketing ploys, they are likely to dismiss the Pokemon craze as harmless fun and innocent fantasy. In reality, the problem is far more complex.
MARKETING A NEW LIFESTYLE
The Pokemon mania supports a financial conglomerate that knows how to feed the frenzy. The television series is free, but it drives the multi-billion dollar business. It also inspires the obsessive new games that disrupt schools and families by giving the children --
a seductive vision: to become Pokemon masters
a tempting promise: supernatural power
a new objective: keep collecting Pokemon
an urgent command: "gotta catch them all"
These enticements are drilled into young minds through clever ads, snappy slogans, and the "Pokeman rap" at the end of each TV episode:
"I will travel across the land
Searching far and wide
Each Pokeman to understand
The power that's inside.
Gotta catch them all!"
The last line, the Pokemon mantra, fuels the craving for more occult cards, games, toys, gadgets, and comic books. There's no end to the supply, for where the Pokemon world ends, there beckons an ever-growing empire of new, more thrilling, occult, and violent products. Each can transport the child into a fantasy world that eventually seems far more normal and exciting than the real world. Here, evil looks good and good is dismissed as boring. Family, relationships, and responsibilities diminish in the wake of the social and media pressures to master the powers unleashed by the massive global entertainment industry.
No wonder children caught up in the Pokemon craze beg for more games and gadgets. The Japanese makers count on it. Since the means often justify the economic ends in the entertainment industry, the Pokemon website is full of tips, explanations, and ads that encourage the urge to splurge - and to express the darker side of human nature. Ponder their influence:
"You can catch a Mew by cheating with a Gameshark."
Ahhh. The Gameshark. . . Cheating is not honorable. But many of you have requested and sent me this information, so I have put it up for all you cheaters."
"The Moon Stone evolves certain Pokemon, such as Clefairy."
"Select your desired attack. Hold down the button until your opponent's life stops draining."
"Once you have captured Zapados, you can use it to quickly lower the health level of Articuno. . . ."
"Super Smash Brothers. . . . This unique fighting game features all of Nintendo's biggest stars in a bruising brawl-fest . . . ."
While children delight in these mysterious realms, concerned parents worry and wonder. What kinds of beliefs and values does the Pokemon world and its links teach? Why the emphasis on evolution, supernatural power, and poisoning your opponent?
CHANGING BELIEFS AND VALUES
Barbara Whitehorse started seeking answers after her son asked a typical question: "Mom, can I get Pokemon cards? A lot of my friends from church have them." Much as she wanted Matthew to have fun with his friends, she gave a loving refusal. Matthew's tutor had already warned her that the Pokemon craze could stir interest in other kinds of occult role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons. At the time, she wondered if the tutor had just over-reacted to some harmless entertainment. After all, the cute little Pokemon creatures looked nothing like the dark demonic creatures of D&D. But when she learned that a local Christian school had banned them because of their link to the occult, she changed her mind.
Later, during a recent party for Matthew, Barbara heard two of the boys discussing their little pocket monsters. One said, "I'll just use my psychic powers." Already, the world of fantasy had colored his real world. So when some of the kids wanted to watch the afternoon Pokemon cartoon on television, Barb again had to say "no." It's not easy to be parents these days.
Cecile DiNozzi would agree. Back in 1995, her son's elementary school had found a new, exciting way to teach math. The Pound Ridge Elementary school was using Magic: the Gathering, the role-playing game called which, like Dungeons and Dragons, has built a cult following among people of all ages across the country.
Mrs. DiNozzi refused to let her son participate in the "Magic club." But a classmate gave him one of the magic cards, which he showed his mother. It was called "Soul exchange" and pictured spirits rising from graves. Like all the other cards in this ghastly game, it offered a morbid instruction: "Sacrifice a white creature."
"What does 'summon' mean?" he asked his mother after school one day.
"Summon? Why do you ask?"
He told her that during recess on the playground the children would "summon" the forces on the cards they collect by raising sticks into the air and saying, "'Spirits enter me.' They call it 'being possessed.'" 5
Strange as it may sound to American ears, demonic possession is no longer confined to distant lands. Today, government schools from coast to coast are teaching students the skills once reserved for the tribal witchdoctor or shaman in distant lands. Children everywhere are learning the pagan formulas for invoking "angelic" or demonic spirits through multicultural education, popular books, movies, and television. It's not surprising that deadly explosions of untamed violence suddenly erupt from "normal" teens across our land.
Occult role-playing games teach the same dangerous lessons. They also add a sense of personal power and authority through personal identification with godlike superheroes. Though the demonic realm hasn't changed, today's technology, media, and multicultural climate makes it easier to access, and harder than ever to resist its appeal.
ROLE-PLAY AND PSYCHOLOGICAL ADDICTION
The televised Pokemon show brings suggestions and images that set the stage for the next steps of entanglement. It beckons the young spectator to enter the manipulative realm of role-play, where fantasy simulates reality, and the buyer becomes a slave to their programmer.
Remember, in the realm of popular role-playing games - whether it's Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, or other selections -- the child becomes the master. As in contemporary witchcraft, he or she wields the power. Their arm, mind, or power-symbol (the pokemon or other action figure) become the channel for the spiritual forces. Children from Christian homes may have learned to say, "Thy will be done," but in the role-playing world, this prayer is twisted into "My will be done!" God, parents, and pastors no longer fit into the picture fantasized by the child.
Psychologists have warned that role-playing can cause the participant to actually experience, emotionally, the role being played. Again, "the child becomes the master." Or so it seems to the player.
Actually, the programmer who writes the rules is the master. And when the game includes occultism and violence, the child-hero is trained to use "his" or "her" spiritual power to kill, poison, evolve, and destroy -- over and over. Not only does this repetitive practice blur the line between reality and fantasy, it also sears the conscience and causes the player to devalue life. The child learns to accept unthinkable behavior as "normal" .
To be a winner within this system, the committed player must know and follow the rules of the game. Obedience becomes a reflex, strengthened by instant rewards or positive reinforcement. The rules and rewards force the child to develop new habits and patterned responses to certain stimuli. Day after day, this powerful psychological process manipulates the child's thoughts, feelings, and actions, until his or her personality changes and, as many parents confirm, interest in ordinary family life begins to wither away.
You may have recognized those preceding terms as those often used by behavioral psychologists. They point to a sophisticated system of operant conditioning or behavior modification. The child must exercise his own intelligent mind to learn the complex rules. But after learning the rules, the programmed stimuli produce conditioned responses in the player. These responses become increasingly automatic, a reflex action. Naturally, this can leads to psychological addiction, a craving for ever greater (and more expensive) thrills and darker forces.
It's hard to teach restraint to children who are begging for gratification. Wanting to please rather than overreact, we flinch at the thought of being called censors once again. Parental authority simply doesn't fit the fast-spreading new views of social equality taught through the media and schools. Yet, we must obey God. He has told us to train our children to choose His way (Proverbs 22:6), and we can't turn back now.
If you share my concerns, you may want to follow these suggestions. They will help you equip your child with the awareness needed to resist occult entertainment:
1. First, look at God's view of contemporary toys, games and cartoons. As a family, read Scriptures such as Ephesians 5:8-16, 6:10-18 (the armor of God); Philippians 4:8-9; and Colossians 2:9. Compare them with the values encouraged by Pokemon and other role-playing games.
2. Share your observations. Spark awareness in a young child with comments such as, "That monster looks mean!" or "That creature reminds me of a dragon," along with "Did you know that in the Bible, serpents and dragons always represent Satan and evil?"
3. To teach young children a Biblical attitude toward evil before they learn to delight in gross, ugly characters, make comments such as, "Who would want to play with that evil monster? I don't even like to look at him. Let's find something that makes us feel happy inside."
4. Model wise decision-making. Tell your child why you wouldn't want to buy certain things for yourself.
When your child wants a questionable game or toy, ask questions that are prayerfully adapted to your child's age, such as:
1. What does this game teach you (about power, about magic, about God, about yourself)? Discuss both obvious and subtle messages.
2. Does it have anything to do with supernatural power? If so, what is the source of that power? Does it oppose or agree with God's Word?
3. What does it teach about violence or immorality and their consequences?
4. Does the game or toy have symbols or characteristics that link it to New Age or occult powers?
5. Does it build godly character?
In a nation consumed with self-indulgence, self-fulfillment, and self-empowerment, godly self-denial seems strangely out of place. But God commanded it, and Jesus demonstrated it. Dare we refuse to acknowledge it? According to the age of your child, discuss Jesus' words in Matthew 16:24-26, then allow the Holy Spirit to direct your application.
Far more than earthly parents, God wants His children to be content and full of joy. But He knows better than to give us all the things we want. Instead, He gave us His word as a standard for what brings genuine peace and happiness. The apostle Paul summarized it well:
"Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (Philippians 4:8)
After hearing God's warning and praying for His wisdom, nine-year-old Alan Brannan decided to throw away all his Pokemon cards. "My friend did the same," said his mother. "Her twelve year old son had been having nightmares. But after a discussion with his parents about the game and its symbols, he was convicted to burn his cards and return his Gameboy game. That night slept well for the first time in a month."
"It seemed to us that these cards had some sort of power," continued DiAnna Brannan. "Another nine-year-boy had stolen money from his mother's purse ($7.00) to buy more cards. When questioned, he confessed and said he had heard the devil urging him to do it. The family quickly gathered in prayer, then saw God's answer. Both the boy and his little sister burned their cards, warned their friends, and discovered the joy and freedom that only comes from following their Shepherd.
1. Laura Evenson, "Seeing Red and Blue at Schools," San Francisco Chronicle, April 20, 1999.
(Apparently, the latter site has changed since I downloaded and printed the original pages. Now, if you click on the above URL, you will probably face a sign saying "The page you have requested can not be located." If so, just click on the Wizard banner in the upper left corner, and you will enter the site. Notice the links to "Magic: the Gathering" and "Dungeons and Dragons" on the right side. However, the Pokemon rules seems to have disappeared.)
3. http://www.wizards.com/Pokemon/Rules/Welcome.html (See note above)
4. "Haunter versus Kadabra," aired on May 20, 1999.
5. Transcribed from a recorded interview with Cecile DiNozzi in Pound Ridge, New York.
Thanks to http://www.crossroad.to for the use of this article.
My son called me on the phone recently and asked, "Dad, do you know anything about the kids' collector card game Pokémon?" The reason he asked was because my oldest grandson, who is 7 years old, came home with several of the cards he got from a friend at church. He showed them to his dad and said his friends thought "they were really cool." After looking at the few cards, his dad had a different opinion. Though he could not put his finger on exactly what the problem was by looking at those few cards, he definitely had an uneasy feeling about them. While he neither saw nor read anything overtly evil on the cards, there were a couple of hints on them that made him suspicious. He decided not to allow his son to get involved with Pokemon until he looked into it further. This proved to be a wise decision. Here's what I discovered.
The name Pokémon is derived from pocket monster. Pokémon has entertained Japanese youth since 1995. While it is rare for a Japanese cultural phenomena to be duplicated in the Western world, Pokémon has proved to be the exception. Pokémon has moved into the United States "BIG TIME" and captured the minds of elementary aged children all over this country. Pokémon is everywhere Nintendo video games, cartoon shows on television, a movie, comic books, toys, clothing, VHS videos, DVD's, and the wildly popular collector card game. The Pokémon "virus" has infected virtually every media outlet imaginable, and by plan, the "virus" has become an epidemic among elementary aged children causing them to crave and beg for more Pokémon paraphernalia. Countless elementary aged children are obsessed with Pokémon.
Without apology, I acknowledge that I am writing this pamphlet from a biblical perspective. And, I believe there is a battle going on for the minds of our children and grandchildren. In fact, Satan and his diabolical hordes want to corrupt the minds of children and adults as well! One of the problems is that Satan is getting the upper hand because Christians are oblivious to the tactics the adversary is using to pollute the minds of men, women, boys and girls. While many Christian adults would catch blatant demonic doctrines, the truth is, Satan seldom mounts a direct assault. Rather, he, through his human helpers, uses subtle, clandestine and deceptive methods to advance his evil doctrines. So, how can we detect these deceptive methods and evil doctrines? How can we protect our children and our-selves? The Bible says, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." 1 Thessalonians 5:21. The Bible says, "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" 1 Corinthians 10:31. The Bible says, " Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." Romans 12:9. Therefore, we must measure Pokémon paraphernalia by the principles of the Bible to determine if it is acceptable. Let's do that.
One of the first things I did was to find out who produced the trading card game. Here is an exact quote right from the Web page of the producer - "The Pokémon Trading Card Game is a new collectable Card Game that is made and distributed by Wizards of the Coast. The same company that made the best selling game ... Magic: The Gathering." Magic: The Gathering is a heavily occult laced trading card game very popular in the 1990's. I have a research report titled Beware of Magic:The Gathering that can be viewed on the Logos Web page at
Oh yes, I should mention that Wizards of the Coast also owns TSR, the producers of all the Dungeons & Dragons materials. When I discovered who owned the American Pokémon Trading Card Game rights, I knew the game was not just an innocent card game for elementary school children.
Next, I looked into the characters in the Pokémon video games, comics, cartoons, movies, etc. What kind of values do they have? Ash Ketchum (a boy) is one of the main characters. He is described as "an energetic and determined 10-year-old a little too competitive." He is obsessed with catching all Pokémon and driven "to become the world's foremost Pokémon Master." Oh yes, you can be sure that the Pokémon Rap song and mantra will be included in the materials --
will travel across the land
Searching far and wide
Each Pokémon to understand
The power that's inside.
Gotta catch them all!"
The last line of the Pokémon mantra, "Gotta catch them all!" is used over and over again in Pokémon paraphernalia because it fuels the craving for more cards, games, toys, gadgets, and comic books.
Let's look at another character, Ash's companion Misty. She is described as "headstrong and stubborn constantly quibbling with Ash and seems to harbor deeper feelings for Ash." Then there is the third member of the trio, Brock who is "by far the most hormonal. Brock's fascination with the opposite sex many times gets him or the group into trouble, although he's yet to have anything resembling a score." Let's take a look at Pokémon trainer Gary. He is "a real jerk self-centered, vindictive and obnoxious. Then there are Jessie & James. Here is how they are described -- "Prepare for trouble, make it double.... Jessie, James are a mysterious and evil gang looking to steal rare Pokémon. Jessie and James are stuck up, fashion conscious, and prone to cross-dressing."
Headstrong, stubborn, quibbling, self-centered, vindictive, obnoxious, hormonal, sexually preoccupied, evil, thieving, cross-dressing jerks are most definitely not biblical role models! These characters do not portray biblical values. Pokémon does not measure up!
Pokémon has supernatural powers. "Some Pokémon grow, or evolve." This is facilitated by the "Energy cards" that "make your Pokémon bigger and more powerful." And what is the source of this power? It is the pantheistic power of the occult, not the supernatural power of God. I have found two cards that make this very clear (there are likely more). They are Abra and Kadabra. Yes, these are their actual names. "Abrakadabra" (or abracadabra) has been a word long associated with occult magic. Webster's dictionary defines it this way - 1) a word supposed to have magic powers and hence used in incantations, on amulets, etc. 2) a magic spell or formula. It is no accident that the two Pokémon called Abra and Kadabra are psychic cards with magical powers.
On the Abra card we read "Using its ability to read minds, it will identify impending danger and teleport to safety." Then there are the occult symbols on Kadabra. He has a pentagram on his forehead, SSS on his chest and he is giving the Satanic salute with his left hand. All of the above have strong occult significance. It is clear from the Bible (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) that we are neither to participate in nor associate with activities related to the occult.
Some of the readers will no doubt protest, "it's only a game!" To be sure it is a game, but a game that does not glorify God! When God says something is wrong, it is wrong regardless of what form it is in. Not only that, but many of the kids who play this game are seduced into believing the principles that the game subtly teaches. Here is but one example. In the booklet that comes with Pokémon, note what is stated -- "Welcome to the world of Pokémon, a special place where people just like you train to become the number-one Pokémon Master in the World! But what is a Pokémon, you ask. ' Pokémon are incredible creatures that share the world with humans,' says Professor Oak, the leading authority on these monsters. There are currently 150 documented species of Pokémon. . . . Each Pokémon has its own special fighting abilities. . . . Some grow, or evolve, into even more powerful creatures.. . . Carry your pokemon with you, and you're ready for anything! You've got the power in your hands, so use it!"
Listen, kids are carrying around their Pokémon like a magic talisman. Author and researcher Berit Kjos tells of a mom who overheard two boys discussing their little pocket monsters. As the conversation developed one boy said, "I'll just use my psychic powers." It was clear that the so called fantasy world of Pokémon had already conditioned this boys thinking to be receptive to a key occult doctrine - psychic powers!
Pokémon promotes occult values, not biblical values and therefore should be rejected!
I pointed out earlier that Pokémon originated in Japan. What I did not draw to your attention was that a Pokémon Master is a spin off of a martial arts master in Japan. Pokémon Masters are the leaders of fighting schools or battling gangs that solve their problems by beating their opponents. And how do they do this? Their little booklet says, "Some attacks cause the Defending Pokémon to be Asleep, Confused, Paralyzed, or Poisoned."
The Bible warns us to be cautious about what we occupy our minds with (Proverbs 4:23). The games a child plays, the television programs he watches, and the things that he listens to have a powerful mind shaping influence over that child. Mental health professionals are finally coming to understand what the Bible has said all along -- the things you let into you mind shape your thinking and your thinking directs your actions. This truth was acted out at the Columbine High school slaughter. The shooters had saturated their minds with violent video games, Gothic death music, and violent reading material. The result was on April 20, 1999, twelve students and one teacher were murdered.
Could Pokémon influence the children who play it? I pray that it does not happen, but I wonder how long it will be before a grade school child, tries to do what is written on the Weepingbell - Razor Leaf Pokémon card. It says, "It spits out poisonpowder to immobilize the enemy, and then finishes the enemy with a spray of acid." Does this line up with what the Bible has to say about how to handle our enemies in Romans 12:14-22? I Think not! It is clear that Pokémon leads the player's imagination down the wrong path. The Bible says that we are to abhor that which is evil, and cleave to that which is good (Romans 12:9). Poisoning, paralyzing, etc. your enemies is clearly evil and no one should occupy their minds with such thoughts, game or no game. Our every thought is to be screened to be sure Christ approves of it (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). If it does not line up, it is to be rejected.
So, what's the problem with Pokémon? Its subtle suggestions, images and values are manipulating the minds and feelings of the children who are into it. Pokémon conditions them to accept humanistic wisdom and occult spirituality. Heavy involvement in Pokémon blurs the player's ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality and sears the conscience of the player as well. Pokémon is designed to be a stepping stone to harder occult oriented games like Magic:The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons.
God wants his children to have a completely different focus. We are even told where our thoughts should be directed in Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."