Friday, December 7, 2012

Culture Watch: Television & Demonaphobia

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

The deception began with a bang. The DT crew (Destination Truth) went to the Mayan ruins, which was the site of untold number of human sacrifices to idols—which as the bible tells us is participating in demons. In light of this, one would have thought they would have put demons at least on their possible suspect list for the accelerated paranormal activity there; they didn’t. Instead, team DT posited, before even went there, that the recent accelerated activity was either due to the sacrificial victims or the Mayan warriors. Even though scared to death at points, demons were not even an option.

I try to stay in touch with popular culture, so I watch as many of the haunted TV shows as I can. What I am sharing is based on what I witnessed over the last month of watching the following shows: Destination Truth, Ghost Adventures, Haunted Collector, A Haunting, The Dead Files, Paranormal Witness, Haunted Highway, and one more about hauntings at colleges but I can’t for the life of me remember the name.  Sheesh. That is eight shows on three nights of the week (Tues., Wed., Friday). People’s beliefs and worldviews are unconsciously shaped by exposure to this much haunted TV, but this is but a tip of the paranormal iceberg on TV. One list had about fifty shows, which in some form or fashion, focus on the assumed reality of ghosts. FIFTY!  Of course they are not all on the same season schedule, and a few on the list are now cancelled—but as with The Ghost Whisperer or Charmed, re-runs are current with a number of these. That is an incredible number of shows, which reveals how we are witnessing a paradigm shift in our understanding of spirituality (topic for another day). This phenomenon is both a shaper of culture as well as a reflection of it.

My purpose in watching all these shows was in part to answer this question: is TV phobic regarding demons? The undeniable answer is “yes”; the vast majority of these shows avoid fingering demons as the cause of supernatural activity in homes or businesses. Whether it is the individuals or the networks (or both) that are demonaphobic, the reality is that the phobia is ubiquitous. As with the opening scene with DT, it is astounding how hesitant folks are on these shows to assign the blame on demons for even the most despicable activity. For varying reasons, the almost monolithic consensus of investigators is that demonic encounters are rare. So, in that regard the TV shows are mirroring current beliefs in this field. One quick example. The much respected John Zaffis is called in to assuage the fears of a young mom. There has been verbal threats and physical violence, to the point she is terrified. During an EVP session (red flag!) John asks the spirit if it is angry with the family, and child’s voice answered, "no". Based almost entirely on this captured EVP, John interprets all of this scratching, pushing, and threats as an expression of trust that this child ghost feels with the young mom. A touching scene follows, and I am feeling nauseous. That is baloney sir. Do you always trust children’s voices? What would you think of a living child who scratched and pushed people and threatened them? I would have had my rear-end whipped good as a child if I did half of what that demon did to those people. That is calling wrong…. right-something the bible condemns. On another episode his tech, Brian, got a long triple scratch down his back, and demons were not mentioned at all—not amongst themselves (that we know of) or with the client. Does anybody else find that problematic? Two per show… that makes eight hair raising episodes in a month, in which a world famous, professing Christian demonologist does not even mention demons.

While watching Paranormal Witness tonight I thought that, finally, they will call a spade a spade. Two or three deputies are witness to some hair raising activity in an old theatre. After what he called demon like activity, one of them quit. It seemed that, given all the focus on the sheer evil of this entity, that a demon was going to be the culprit. Wrong. By the end, it was reported that a young man had died in a fire there and all the activity was then viewed through that prism. So, in all those shows I watched, I do not recall a demon being seen as the cause of the supernatural activity. Moreover, most of the time, demons were not even mentioned. We are talking several dozen episodes. THAT frequency and repetition is clearly influencing people’s views regarding both ghosts and the demonic.  It makes me weep.

I find this very troubling because it is only reinforcing in the audience’s minds that ghosts are the only plausible explanation for supernatural activity. It is shaping their view of supernatural reality…millions of people. “Yes demons are real, but rare”. Sound familiar?  It should, because demonic rarity is the majority view of investigators. Sure it happens but even the most “negative” (grown to really dislike that word) entities are almost always viewed as irregular humans or possibly some whacked out dimensional being (eg energy vampires—demons can mimic that). If it smells like sulfur, levitation is occurring, tables are flying across the room, apportation, extreme aversion to blessed objects, client speaking backwards in Latin, and people are being hurt, THEN folks will discuss the possibility of demonic presence. Sheeesh….(ok, a bit exaggerated) Once you introduce the concept of ghosts (including poltergeist and residual), then identifying demons is hopelessly subjective.

Stop! Everyone believes that demons are deceptive, so why the almost fervent hesitancy to label something demonic unless all the aforementioned is present? Even veteran, biblical demonologists fall prey to this faulty logic when they assume they will always feel heaviness in the air if there is a demonic infestation. If you have a strong gift of discernment (there are gradations of sensitivity), then that is a horse of a different color. But generally, demons can leave a palpable sense of peace and love. That is certainly an implicate of the angel of light principle, and there is a plethora of anecdotal evidence to support this. They can control the vibe of a house. How convincing is an angel-cloaked demon going to be if everyone has the heeby-jeebies around them or feel nauseous and so on? Back to the fervent hesitancy.

Satan is not omnipotent, but he is showing considerable power in how he has promoted this demonaphobia. The issue is not what you personally believe—the issue is, what is the message coming across the TV? This was an experiment to observe. The bottom line is that if the angel of light principle is real—and it is—then there is no way to make a list of criteria for demonic presence; they can and do break all the rules and all the stereotypes. And to rule out from the get-go the possibility of demonic activity is not science, it is ideological assumptions. (REPEAT) It is the opposite of true science…destination untruth. 

Demonaphobia….that is what is plastered all over TV these days. This is a call to all bible believing Christians to be salt and light for the glory of God.

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