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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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