Uncovering A Biblical Worldview

Wishcraft: the Culture of Fantasy and Unbelief in America

Does Wishing Make it So? Disney
and the Magic Kingdom

Jefferis Kent Peterson



Didache Paper #104

When you wish upon a star

Makes no difference who you are

Anything your heart desires will come to you.

If your heart is in your dream

No request is to extreme

When you wish upon a star as dreamers do.

Fate is kind

She brings to those who love

Her sweet fulfillment of their secret longing.

Like a bolt out of the blue

Fate steps in and sees you through.

When you wish upon a star

your dreams come true.1


An entire generation has been raised upon the Disney adage; "Wishing
makes it so." But this attitude towards the power of imagination betrays
a value system at war with the Christian faith. The Disney Company, before
its most recent releases, was touted by many Christians and moralists as
a benign kingdom in the midst of an entertainment industry gone awry. Christian
parents plopped their kids in front of the VCR with Disney titles, trusting
that their children were watching something good, or at least something
harmless. In contrast to the violence, sexuality, and mayhem of prime time,
Disney’s offerings seemed like appropriate children’s fare. And
because of its reputation for wholesomeness, Disney’s influence encircled
the globe. Indeed, much of their material has been excellent by today’s
standards. Swiss Family Robinson is fairly harmless entertainment,
and the Anne of Green Gables series teaches positive moral values.
So not all that Disney has done is bad, but that makes the danger that
it poses all the more insidious: because poison has been mixed in with
the sweetness of the sugar. And naive Christians have ingested both. What
is this poison that is so deadly? It is a New Age philosophy of Wishcraft
promoted under the spell of those who declare; "wishing makes it so." The
power of wishing has extended everywhere through the influence of the entertainment
media like Disney. But why is this philosophy so inimical to Christian
beliefs? After all, isn't using the imagination something good and isn't
creativity something we should admire? What is so bad about Disney? What
is so bad about believing that if you wish hard enough, your dreams really
will come true?

It is not without reason that Disney is called the Magic Kingdom. It is
a place where anything can happen. The power of imagination is unleashed
and creativity is exalted. If it can be envisioned, Disney has the power
to make it a reality, even if that reality is only an illusion built upon
special effects and animatronics. Disney is the place where wishing does
makes it so and dreams do come true. Wishing opens up a world of possibilities
where good always triumphs and where things always work out in the end.
But the problem with all this hope and desire, wedded to the imagination,
is that the line between what is real and unreal becomes indistinct. If
wishing were only confined to the silver screen or to the Disney theme
parks, then it would not be such a threat. But through constant involvement
in the distraction of entertainment, we as a people begin to live in the
unreal world of imagination. The images created within our minds through
the constant viewing of television and movies are so powerful, that the
memories of pleasant and frightening imagery become a backdrop for our
lives. For example, if I mention the words, "Star Wars," a flood
of images will fill the minds of everyone who has seen the trilogy. Like
a storehouse, where images have been collected in the mind, they now fuel
the imagination. While the scripture tells us to "meditate on the
Law of God both day and night," (Joshua 1:8) so that our minds will
become a storehouse of God’s truth, we, of this television generation,
have yielded our minds to the unreal world of imagination. If meditating
on God’s truth will bring us success, as God said to Joshua, then
what will happen if we meditate on a constant diet of fantasy instead?

As a television generation, we have been trained to crave the constant
stimulation of our senses. But now, as we are saturated by the entertainment
media, it becomes easier and easier for us to retreat from the discomforts
and difficulties of this world into the fantasy world that exists within
our own minds. Fantasy can become a means of escape from a real world where
our desires are denied or delayed. And those who have been brought up on
a constant diet of magic and fantasy are not prepared to deal with the
challenges they will face in life. Rather, they are trained to run into
a fantasy world of their own creation where they can escape from the pain,
sorrow, and disappointment that real life often brings. Instead of facing
the obstacles of this life with faith and trust in God, they run to sanctuary
of their own minds, and finding refuge there, they escape both the demands
of God and the challenges of this world. In the end, they have turned from
faith to fantasy and unbelief. They have turned from faith and relationship
to God to the consolation of the images that exist solely within their
own minds.

Disney’s philosophy is only representative of a widespread New Age value
structure that infects every part of our world. The tragedy is that Christian
parents unwittingly are training their children to adopt this philosophy
from a very early age. They have accepted into their homes the gospel of
magic, which is, at heart, diametrically opposed to God’s ways. Why
is magic a counterfeit to true faith? Because magic, as presented by the
Disney philosophy, is a means for the self to be in control of the world
through the use of wishing. And this Magic Kingdom is at war with the Kingdom
of God because it exalts the use of selfish power without requiring us to
submit to the will of God.

When we can wish upon a star, we can do whatever we want. So wishing
gives us the freedom and license to follow our every impulsive desire
through the use of our imagination. Like pornography which creates an
imaginary satisfaction for lustful desire, magic is a form of control
over the world, not through faith, but through the exertion of the human
will. Magic allows us to get what we want through the use of power. So,
as pornography is a means of satisfying physical desire, magic is a means
of satisfying our greed and desire for absolute control. It is a recapitulation
of Adam’s rebellious transgression. It is saying, however subtly, "I
want to be in control of my own life and of the world as it affects me.
I want to be the god of my own destiny, and I will control my world through
my mind."

In Deuteronomy, God warned the children of Israel, that the reason God
was giving them Canaan was because of the exceedingly great wickedness
of its current inhabitants. Chief among the great evils of the Canaanites
was magic.

When you enter the land the LORD
your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways
of the nations there. Let no-one be found among you who sacrifices
his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery,
interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is
a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.
Anyone who does
these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable
practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.
(Deuteronomy 18:9-12, NIV).

God detests magic, casting spells, and witchcraft. He hates it, and
he condemned the inhabitants of Canaan because of it. Indeed, even after
the warning, Israel was later exiled for returning to the practices of
witchcraft, child sacrifice, and idolatry. Yet Christian parents regularly
feed their children on the Disney fare of witches, poison apples, spells,
and spooks. They see no contrast between worshipping God and inviting
into their homes, and into their children’s hearts, the very evils
which God condemned and rejected so long ago. Yet much of today’s
cartoon and television fare is based upon magic. This magic’s greatest
seduction is wishcraft: the power to make things happen merely by wishing
it to be so. What is this practice but magic in a new set of clothes?

This seduction is everywhere, and parents subject their children to
it unawares. Cartoons as seemingly harmless as the Smurfs, a cute
and cuddly, elfish people, are harassed by their adversary, Gargamel,
who casts spells and incantations around a pentagram. Even the Muppets are
not immune. In the original Muppet Movie finale, the scene is
the Magic Store where they sing "The Rainbow Connection:"

Why are there so many songs about rainbows?
That's part of what rainbows do.

Rainbows are memories, sweet dream reminders.
What is it you'd like to do?

All of us watching, and wishing we'd find
it; I've noticed, you're watching too.

Someday you'll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers, and you...



Life's like a movie, write your own
ending. Keep believing, keep pretending.

We've done just what we set out to do.
Thanks to the lovers, the dreamers, and you.



(Written by Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher)

Jim Henson, the Muppet’s creator, expressed a philosophy very similar
to that of Disney’s: pretend and your dreams will come true.


God gives us visions and promises and dreams, which through faith in
Him and by obedience to His will, can indeed come true. But the crucial
quotient in God’s plan is that our fulfillment comes through the
surrender of our will to God’s. Yes, God will bring the dreams He has
given us to pass, if we serve and trust in Him. But the counterfeit
vision provided by wishcraft is that we can gain our desires simply
by exalting our own will, without any sacrifice. It promises us
an easy road that leads to a crown of glory without the crucifixion of
selfish will. It’s not Christ’s way, but Satan’s path
to glory that is being offered as a temptation to the soul through the
use of the philosophy of wishcraft.

People are shocked and dismayed that Disney is now promoting homosexuality,
X- rated content, and other anti-Christian themes in their movies, like
a phallus in Aladdin‘s backdrop scene. They are shocked to
think that a company that so supported "family values" is now
in the forefront of tearing those values down. I am not surprised, because
as I have outlined, Disney has never been in support of God’s family
values except perhaps by accident. From its foundation, it has been opposed
to the values that God considers holy, placing its "Kingdom of Magic
and Self Will" in opposition to the will of God. The only difference
between the old Disney fare and its current product is that Disney’s
deepest motivations are now being revealed in such a graphic way that
even naive Christians can finally see them

****

Sidebar

By definition, magic is an attempt to control
the world through spells and incantations. It is not faith in God and
it requires no dependence upon God; no submission to His will. But
magic is a power, or an attempt to be a power, that can be exercised
independently of God. It is the self as God. When Moses confronted
the sorcerers of Egypt, they exercised a counterfeit power through
spells and incantations, but their source of power was demonic. A common
belief in that day and age was that the control over demonic powers
was achieved through the secret knowledge of the "name" of
the so-called god. The sorcerers had secret names and incantations
that they used to control the snake and frog gods. It was for this
reason that when God encountered Moses at the burning bush, God refused
to give His name. God was not about to allow himself to be subjected
to the beck and call of any human being simply by using the formula
of His Name. He did not want Moses to confuse the worship of the One
true God, with the common practice of sorcery:

Then Moses said to God, "If I come to the people
of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to
you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?" God
said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people
of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" (Exodus 3:13-14, RSV).

In other words, God was not willing to give Moses
a formula whereby Moses could manipulate and control God at will. God
will do no man’s bidding, but He expects us to do his. It is for
these two reasons that magic is so radically opposed to God: it utilizes
demonic powers, and it exalts the human, selfish will to total control.
And wishcraft is the illusion of control of the world through a projection
of the imagination. It is a recreation of the world in the image of
our minds, so that the world conforms to our desires and wants. Wishing
is fantasy and not reality, but it is a refuge for those who would
rather run to their imaginations than subject their lives to the examination
of God. And for many, many people, the world of fantasy has sapped
them of their potential for a productive life of faith in the Kingdom
of God.

Practical Response

We have seemed a radical and nutty family to many because for years,
we have forbidden movies like Snow White, Cinderella, Aladdin,
etc., in our homes. Why? Because they all express a common reliance upon
witchcraft as the central theme of the story. The propagation and indoctrination
into the culture of wishcraft and unbelief is so extensive in these
movies that we wanted to protect our children from developing a tolerance
for and openness to its seductive power. The fact that these movies are
seemingly pleasant, delightful works of art and humor makes them all
the more dangerous because we are desensitized to their underlying value
structure by their seeming innocence. Through sitcoms on television,
which regularly use humor to disguise the fact that fornication is the
main story line, we, Christians, have accepted and approved of sexual
practices that are condemned in the bible. The fact is, when we watch
these seemingly harmless shows, we are approving of these values of immorality.
We invest our lives with the characters, laugh with them, and hope for
them, sympathize with their struggles to find a mate, and all the while,
we ignore the premise of promiscuity and fornication which motivates
the shows. And the truth is, once we get used to laughing about it, we
also come to accept it as normal. It is for that reason that the producers
of new shows want so desperately to introduce a mainstream gay character
who is humorous, so that our barriers of resistance to homosexuality
in the culture will be broken down. After all, if Hollywood can make
fornication a object of humor instead of concern, they can tell all sorts
of other lies that will influence the culture and turn it away from godly
values.

This criticism of the misuse of the imagination does not mean that imagination
itself is bad or ungodly. God gives the imagination to us as a way of
instilling divine hope in us as a precursor to mature faith. Imagination
is a gift for enabling invention in everything from business to evangelism.
Creative imagination can be used in books and movies to teach godly values,
reinforce morals, and even to promote holy enjoyment. The premise however
for all such art should be a biblical worldview, whether or not God is
ever mentioned. Above all, the imagination should not be used to cast
in a good light the values, worldviews, and powers of things like magic,
which by nature are opposed to God.

In conclusion, through Disney’s current fare, the Church is receiving
a wake up call. It is being shown the true nature of "family" values
promoted by this culture of fantasy and unbelief. What is required is
a diligence upon our part. We are called to resist the encroachment of
the prevailing values of our age so that they do not enter in to our
homes, hearts, and our minds. For example, in our home we have severely
limited what our children can watch. We got rid of the cable service
because of all the unregulated programming that became impossible for
us to monitor. And we have joined together with other Christian families
to fight with the school district and teachers about our children‘s
required readings, which were full of fantasy and witchcraft. These battles
have been time consuming and exhausting, but once our position is explained,
our school board and teachers have accommodated our requests for separate
curricula when necessary, even when they have not always agreed with
our views. Such diligence is draining, but it also provides an opportunity
to witness for Christian values to those who may never have questioned
the prevailing worldview of wishcraft in which they are steeped. Perhaps,
as an awareness of the true root and character of fantasy is exposed
to the Church, we will be able to stem the flood of values into our homes
that undermine our faith and trust in God.

1996 Jefferis Kent Peterson

111 S. Magnolia Dr.

Butler PA 16001

[1] From the Disney Movie Pinocchio
- When You Wish Upon a Star 1940 Bourne Co., Copyright renewed.
Words by Ned Washington; Music by Leigh Harline.

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