Satanic Panic and Pokemon: A Case Study

Should we beware of pocket monsters? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A friend of Deeper Waters was deeply surprised when in my last newsletter I mentioned going out walking at Christmas which also helped me with Pokemon Go. But isn’t that a satanic game? Isn’t that connected with that other demonic game, Dungeons and Dragons? I was given a link to this article.

The problem I have with this is so much of it was based on personal experience. Okay. This lady has an experience with her son concerning Pokemon. Now let’s suppose there are far more other people who have positive experiences with their son about Pokemon. Do those people overrule the negative experience here? Does the truth change based on experience?

Now this isn’t the first time I have come across such things. I wrote years ago on the writings of Phil Arms on this topic. I found it lacking then and I still find it lacking now.

So let’s go back and see how things started off. We can say that Role-playing actually began with J.R.R. Tolkien and creating the world of Middle-Earth. We got introduced to many races and creatures and that book has had a lasting impact. Today, there are immense fandoms about this. People eventually would want to play games about this.

So then comes Dungeons and Dragons. Unfortunately, that got a bad rap early on with incidents like the Pulling Report and the book Mazes and Monsters. The problem is this was highly unrelated to anyone playing the game. If anything, these incidents would have been highly isolated incidents in response to the far far far more people playing a game with any adverse responses.

Question. Why do we listen to very rare isolated incidents ignoring the numerous people who don’t have this happen and make a national panic out of it?

And now, let’s prepare ourselves for a shock. One of the co-creators of Dungeons and Dragons, Gary Gygax, was a Christian. What about the Pulling Report? Nonsense. So why did it get so popular? Because fear sells and sensationalism sells. Look at what happened in our recent history with Covid. So many people went into a panic and now we look back in retrospect and say “Yeah. It shouldn’t have happened.” Similar happened with Y2K and back then, I was even scared about things, not being well-equipped yet. The same happened before 2012. There were Christians who were making a major deal about a Rosh Hoshanah eclipse.

D&D is just a game like any other game and it is what you make of it. I happen to play with some others around here. We get together and it’s one of my favorite times of the month because we all come together and laugh and form friendships and it is about the relationships. I also recommend you see this video on the topic.

So what about Pokemon?

Okay. One criticism I remember seeing is about having creatures fight one another. Is this not promoting violence? People. If you have boys, you know they way they are. I remember going to the house of some friends of mine who played army on their birthdays. Kids will happily bring out toy guns and shoot at one another.

Yet they all know it’s fantasy. It’s not real. Right after playing army where they were trying to “destroy” one another, they were the best of friends. If anything, in Pokemon, the characters never die really.

In looking at the article, I find it amazing that the author wants to avoid pagan influences, but her kids play with Star Wars sabers, They just don’t use the force.

Okay. I don’t know Star Wars well. I went and looked this up and I’m sure some Star Wars fans can verify. This is from ScreenRant:

The most crucial part of a lightsaber (as well as the rarest and most expensive) is the kyber crystal. Kyber crystals are naturally attuned and imbued with the Force itself, making them immensely powerful objects. In other words, each kyber crystal is a small, physical manifestation of the Force. Jedi younglings didn’t simply choose any crystal they found in the Ilum caves. Instead, they often searched or endured a small trial before feeling a specific kyber crystal calling to them. The crystal would then bond with the user for life through the Force.

In other words, someone playing with a lightsaber is automatically using the Force.

Do I have a problem with that?

No, because if someone says “This is fantasy” and they know it, then this is not a problem. Was Star Wars made to share Eastern thought like Buddhism? Yes. Is Star Trek based on humanism and an atheistic worldview? Yes. Does that mean they’re all wicked and evil? No.

Christians need to engage with the imagination. If Christianity is true, even in non-Christian works, we will see shades of the gospel. We will see stories of redemption. We will see good vs evil. It is unavoidable. If Christianity is true, the gospel is unavoidable in great stories, even non-Christian stories.

For me personally, as a person on the spectrum, these games have been extremely helpful to me. I have got to have a community with people and laugh and share with them. I have gone to the community park around here with people and been accepted immediately because we all have that common bond.

The opposite, the satanic panic, leads to the opposite effect. If anything, this drives people away and makes them want nothing to do with Christianity and usually is based on highly false premises. Now by all means parents, you are the authority. You determine what is and isn’t allowed in your household, but you cannot shelter them forever. They will be on their own some time and if they think they were misled by you, they will likely blame that on Christianity also.

Instead, really discuss issues together and really let your child come to their decisions based on informed research. Talk to people of opposite perspectives on this. Do you find a Christian who enjoys something you think is evil and you don’t understand why? Ask them.

As a gamer, for instance, there are some games I wouldn’t play as a Christian. Suppose I met someone who did. Suppose I met someone I knew to be a devout Christian who played the Grand Theft Auto games for example. I would be intrigued and ask “Okay. I have some concerns with them. What do you think about XYZ?” Maybe I agree. Maybe I don’t Maybe I just need more time. The point is, at least I better understand my neighbor and if they are convinced they are fine in their own mind, then it’s a Romans 14 matter.

Also along the lines of the issue of concern about Pokemon and other games, I found this blog quite helpful. I recommend looking through and following the links.

If you disagree, let’s chat.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)




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