Dear Kjos Ministries,
My colleague and I stumbled across your article about Yu-Gi-Oh and Halloween and we have a few points we would like to make about the article. While we are Christians ourselves, we disagree strongly with many of your conclusions. In this e-mail we would like to highlight some of the statements that you made and make comments and additions of our own. To begin:
"Reflecting the darkening culture of our times, Halloween proudly parades its occult attractions. On October 31, when the veil between the physical and spiritual realms allegedly becomes thin enough to allow easy crossovers, children will once again impersonate their favorite villains or idols. It's the time to celebrate spells and magic -- even demons and death."
While we may agree that the culture around us is steadily darkening we do not agree with your conclusion about Halloween. Most of the general population is ignorant about the origins and customs of the original pagan Halloween, Samhain. While many of the modern customs of Halloween may come from pagan sources but their modern use is not generally pagan. Your conclusion that Halloween is used to celebrate demons and death is, in our opinion, completely unfounded. Primarily, it is a time in which children are allowed to roam around the neighborhood and be given free candy. Apart from health risks, is there really any issue with this?
"Many argue that it's all innocent fun and fantasy. Some characters may be evil, "but that's why they are so entertaining," wrote one visitor to our website -- as if entertainment should be exempt from moral scrutiny. But nothing is innocent that teaches children to love evil and laugh at its captivating forces."
Truly, evil is nothing to laugh at. Anyone who dismisses evil characters so off-handedly is seriously spiritually bereft. Yes, we do believe that nothing is innocent that teaches children to love evil, but Halloween does nothing of the kind. Again, it is only an excuse to get candy. In fact, most children whom I hand out the candy to aren't even in a costume.
"These enticing symbols of past and promised powers may seem harmless to Christians and to their faith, but they are not. For almost a century, behavioral psychologists and educational change agents have proclaimed the transforming power of both role-playing activities and an open-minded imagination. And contemporary pagans know well that America's annual masquerade feeds new life into the old beliefs that lay dormant during much of the past two centuries."
To be truly honest, this entire paragraph reeks of paranoia and fear. For the most part, behavioral psychologists have professed the good of an open imagination provided that this is used responsibly. We need to trust that people, not just children, are aware of the lines between fantasy and reality. You, my dear sir, have managed to convince my colleague and myself of your lack in that department.
"Popular anime characters have joined the vast selections of costumes now sold through the Internet, and little Yugi (short for Yu-Gi-Oh) is likely to be a big hit. Eclipsing Pokemon and more familiar Japanese animations, Yugi has fast gained worldwide fame. Since the daily television show serves as a continual ad for his magical dueling cards, the occult images have suddenly become coveted treasures to young collectors around the world."
I am sorry to point out blatant inaccuracy in this paragraph, but Yugi is not short for Yu-Gi-Oh. Yugi was originally supposed to be spelled Yuugi, being the name of the main character, and mistranslation gave rise to this misconception. Also, there is nothing "magical" about these dueling cards. They are pieces of paper with pictures on them. Furthermore, Yu-Gi-Oh has never even come close to eclipsing the far more popular Pokemon franchise. As you may know, the show Pokemon is still currently running while Yu-Gi-Oh has finished.
"The cards in the "starter deck" (pictured above) bear titles such as "Soul Exchange," "Ultimate Offering," "Summoned Skull" and "Sorcerer of the Doomed." The latter card offers this sinister warning: "A slave of the dark arts, this sorcerer is a master of life-extinguishing spells."
First of all, there are no pictures in your article. So why are you saying the cards are pictured above? Next, we have never come across the card "Soul Exchange" or "Sorcerer of the Doomed" in a starter deck. Those were only in booster packs. All the cards in the game remain morally ambiguous because they are not real, hence the "warning" on Sorcerer of the Doomed is not such. It only acts as a description to the card's attributes.
"Does that sound like a child's game to you?"
It certainly does not, at least not the way you twisted it to look cultic, evil, and pagan.
"The latest version of the game, one "that's sweeping the nation," is featured on the official Yu-Gi-Oh website: 'Duel Monsters is a card-battling game in which players pit different mystical creatures against one another in wild, magical duels! Packed with awesome monsters and mighty spell-cards, Yugi and his friends are totally obsessed with the game.'"
Oh, how terrifying. Doesn't that just sound so horribly evil? Heaven above! It's a website. It is trying to sell things to children, hence the need to make the game sound exciting and appealing to those it is selling to. None of those facts are real, save Yugi's slight obsession and that's because he's the main character, and most parents and children realize this. As you didn't I will once more categorize you as one of those people who have failed to realize such self evident common sense.
"So are his fans. An occult fascination that seemed unthinkable two decades ago has spread like wildfire through western nations and around the world. Indeed, the times have changed, and the gods and spirits behind the old Celtic Samhain (the roots of Halloween) must be cheering."
Truly, such an occult fascination that seemed unthinkable two decades ago is still unthinkable today. And if your pet peeve is with how quickly it spread, look at disco, it spread around the world faster. Or Christian Rock. (Although you would probably be one to argue for the Satanic origin of that as well.) And please note, that the preceding paragraphs were completely irrelevant to the subject at hand. We are speaking about Yu-Gi-Oh at this point, Stop switching topics. It is a tactic that only serves to confuse readers. "'But,' the Yu-Gi-Oh website assures us, 'there's more to this card game than meets the eye!' Indeed there is. Its mythical universe has introduced children to an alternative worldview that may soon become so familiar to young fans that it clouds God's truth and quenches key facts about the real world."
Yes, there is more to this card game than meets the eye. There is strategy and skill involved. That is what the article is referring to, not anything otherworldly and supernatural. As for the "mythical universe" you speak of, there is none. The card game makes no statements about the real world, it is, and always was, fantasy.
"Like the Harry Potter myth, Yugi's mythical world is fortified with its own built-in history. Children learn that today's popular dueling game began in Egypt five thousand years ago, when the Pharaohs played a game that involved magical rituals, divination (foretelling the future) and the combined power of monsters and magic. But, as one might expect, all those "magical spells and ferocious creatures... threatened to destroy the entire world!" But a powerful Pharaoh resolved the crisis with "seven powerful magical totems." As in pagan religions around the world, a mighty shaman had battled evil spells by summoning more powerful spirits to his side."
Ok, Mr. Kjos, have you ever even watched Yu-Gi-Oh? We can't even begin to contemplate the errors in those last few statements. What are you talking about? Divination? Totems? Shamans? Hello, this sounds nothing like the show I've seen. It's about a card game, a children's card game. I think you need to look at what you are talking about before making an utter fool of yourself with such blatantly obvious errors. Harry Potter is not a myth. It is a novel written by J.K. Rowling. No one believes it is real beyond those who, once again, have no idea how to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Even children, whom you don't seem to believe have any more sense than you do, nay, even less, can tell the difference. Now then, there is only one Pharaoh in Egypt at a time. Young adults who have a basic grasp of their history class would know this. Also, this premise can teach a valuable lesson on the dangers of seeking power in the wrong way, a danger that is emphasized throughout the series. And "seven powerful magical totems" is incorrect. Totems are animal spirits bestowed on a person. The millennium items are nothing of the kind. To make a statement like that is absurd. And shamans? This is ancient Egypt, not South America or Siberia. There were no "shamans" as you would define them.
"Fast forward to our own times. Yugi is trying to solve an ancient Egyptian puzzle. When he succeeds, he is filled with amazing energies and creates his own powerful alter ego, Yami Yugi, a larger and stronger replica of himself. The magical dueling game and the monsters symbolized on its cards fill his time and guide his life. "The cards are about heart," he explains."
Again, absolutely terrifying. The devil absolutely must be behind this. One major issue here. Yami, or Yugi2 as you call him, is not Yugi. He is Atem, the Pharaoh who resides within the Puzzle. It isn't really even correct to speak of him as an alter-ego.
"Yugi and his team of friends supposedly model courage, loyalty, faith and team-work -- all the politically correct character qualities that are needed for global solidarity, according to real-world managers. Naturally, Yugi fans believe that their hero teaches good, not evil, beliefs and values. Are they right?"
The first thing we both did when we read the previous sentences is to throw are hands up in shock and bewilderment. Just a question, when did courage, loyalty, faith, and team-work become politically correct? Those values are taught in the Bible, if I'm not mistaken. This gets more ridiculous by the paragraph. All those traits are good. You cannot contest that fact.
"Take a look at some scenes from the October 10th episode of the Yu-Gi-Oh anime. Yugi has been battling his enemy, Pegasus, whose powers have "overtaxed" his mind and caused his collapse. His friends fear his death ("I can't sense his spirit"). But his grandpa shows his faith in the strength of the group and its unified energies: 'The unshakeable devotion of Yugi's friends keeps him alive.'"
October 10 -- 2002? Or 2008? Be specific please. They've been showing reruns for years now and different episodes have occurred on that date every year. And Yugi's grandfather is within the hospital in a "coma," unaware of anything that is happening. How is he able to show his faith? He was only commenting previously on the fact that all humans need the support of others in their lives and it's Yugi's friends who offer him that support. You are sadly missing if you cannot say the same about your own friends. Obviously, this show and shows like it were designed to brainwash are children and should be banned.
"The three friends agree. "If we will concentrate our energies and try to reach him with all our might, then maybe our bond of friendship can get through to him -- even in the shadow realm. Let's give it a try." They recall their "friendship pact", gather in a triangle, focus their minds, combine their individual energies, affirm their faith in Yugi, and transmit a collective magical force into the object of their devotion."
Ok. Yeah, that piece of the show was lame. And Joey and Tristan do not "devote" themselves to Yugi. He is not some "golden calf" to them. He is their friend and they are worried about him. And if Tea is devoted to him, it's because she has a horribly obvious crush on Yugi. I'd like to hope that you know what that is like, and are not some emotionless robot. And, once again, said "magical force" is non-existent. There is not a magical force -- you just want to believe there is. From what I can tell, this article was written for parents who have never watched the show or seen the cards. I think that's being duplicitous. Magical force? Bosch. They're just doing it to give themselves some peace of mind.
"This ritual matches the formula for spells and magic taught by Starhawk, founder of the Covenant of the Goddess. In her witchcraft manual, The Spiral Dance, the Wiccan leader explains that the purpose of magical training is "to make contact with the Divine within. The beginner must develop four basic abilities: relaxation, concentration, visualization, and mental projection."
Really? It does? Wow. That's so enlightening. I'm certain that no one besides yourself knew or cared about that when they looked at the animator's dorky attempt to show people that "friendship and love triumph over all." So it really has no basis in anything but your own opinion. And I'm sure that's what Yugi's friends were doing -- yup, sure looked like they were trying to reach that lil divine spark all right. Moving on.
"In today's real world of paganism, "mental projection" is a psychic extension of occult faith and visualization. After concentrating on the image, the budding magician uses mental determination to connect with the hidden energy source and manipulate the imagined object according to his or her will. This anime, like Star Wars and other myth-making movies, demonstrates a timeless formula for practical spiritism, spell-casting and magic."
Use the force, Luke. Use the force. Use the force to make it obvious that Star Wars has no place in this topic. Please stay on topic. Yeah, they're meditating, but that's just to keep themselves from going out of their minds with worry. We meditate and we're Christians. (Oh, but wait, that probably makes us unsaved heretics in your book.) If you thought one of your friends was in danger and could do absolutely nothing to help it wouldn't you be rather worried?
"In the next scene, Yugi's alter-ego continues the game in his place. Yugi2 draws a card from the deck with power to block Pegasus' all-seeing "millennial eye." Cheering him on, his team is learning another lesson in oneness: "Together we can stand strong against" any foe."
Yugi2? We laugh at you. You couldn't call him anything more ridiculous if you tried. Even calling him "Bob" would be better than that. Do you know anything? Anything at all about this show? He is referred to as "Yami" or "Atem" or even "The Pharaoh." And it's the Millennium Eye, not the "millennial eye."
"'Now that my friends are working with me on a whole new level, this is a whole new game,' declares Yugi2. He draws a winning card: the "Mystic Box" which frees his "magician," who mystically appears with his wand. Next, he draws "Brain Control" and casts a powerful spell. 'How does it feel, Pegasus,' he taunts his foe, 'to have the tables turned and then to have the magical powers of mind control used against you?'"
That's probably one of the lamest lines in the show, I must admit. This isn't even real, for heaven's sake.
"It's Pegasus's turn, but he passes. Yugi draws again. 'It's a ritual card.... Dark magic ritual and to invoke its great powers I must make a double offering.' He sacrifices two of Pegasus' powerful monsters and shouts triumphantly, 'The offering has been accepted. A new power is brought forth.... The magician of Black chaos.... I will avenge my fallen friend.'"
Yay for over dramatic statements, Yami is a drama queen. There is nothing more to it. And whatever happened to Yami AKA Yugi2? Yugi was still collapsed from what I know. He wasn't dueling, it was Yami. Please try to keep your characters straight.
"Ritual sacrifice? Double offering? Black chaos? These grisly suggestions may be part of a fascinating fantasy, but they are rooted in the very real past."
Yes, yes they are. In case you have forgotten, we sacrificed to God in the past. Jesus Christ is the ultimate sacrifice. Don't go dissing sacrifices. And Black Chaos is rather redundant.
"History and archeology tell us that ritual human sacrifice has played a significant part in every major pagan civilization. The Time-Life book, Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects, focuses on the ancient Celts, whose celebration of Samhain inspired today's Halloween. Roman records describe how the Celts 'constructed huge, human-shaped wicker cages, crammed them with victims, then set the twigs ablaze. Although convicted criminals were usually the ones offered to the gods... innocent victims were substituted if malefactors were in short supply.'" Whoa, whoa, stop right there before you go and incriminate yourself some more. First: human sacrifice has played a significant role in every Pagan culture? Really? Can you give me a cited source for that? I'm pretty darned sure the Tlingit of Alaska didn't sacrifice humans. Oh yeah, and those nasty wicker bonfires? Historians are pretty sure that that was exaggerated or even fabricated by Caesar, who was a brutal enemy of the Celts and out to paint them as bloodthirsty savages. Similar to what you are doing, actually. Hypocrisy much? You condemn the deaths of those people by flames, assuming its even true. Well then, what about the heretics who were killed by the same methods? And those innocents who were condemned with false testimonies of witchcraft. We are no better.
"The 1984 discovery of a sacrificial victim in Cheshire, England, helps validate the reality of ritualistic human sacrifice. The well-preserved young man had apparently belonged to an elite social class in the second century BC. After two sharp blows to the head, he had been strangled. Then, like the countless sacrifices to Aztec and Mayan gods, his body had been drained of the human blood needed to please and appease the god(s)."
Hmm -- we think we get it, although I would like to know why the body was found in England when the Aztecs and the Mayans were in Mexico. That young man was most likely no more a sacrifice than you or I. We can't base huge amounts of speculation on one body. You need to make your statements a little more clear. It all depends on the quality of the body found, the possessions on the corpse, and the possible situations that could be conceived within that time period.
"The roots grow darker yet. In his National Geographic report on "The Celts," Merle Severy wrote, 'Samhain eve was a night of dread and danger. At this juncture of the old year and the new, our world and the otherworld opened up to each other. The dead returned, ghosts and demons were abroad, and the future could be seen.'"
Or so the ancient people believed. It wasn't just the Celts, either. It is widely known that similar cultures had festivals around this time period which served similar purpose. Not all the Halloween mumbo-jumbo comes from the Celts. I think this is starting to get slightly racist, in fact. They were a very superstitious lot. That doesn't give you the right to go blasting them like this -- they're long gone. Only God will have the honor of judging us on the Last Day.
"Page 601 gives additional insight: Julius "Caesar describes mass human sacrifice in Gaul: 'Some of the tribes make colossal wickerwork figures, the limbs of which are filled with living men; these images are then set alight and the victims perish in a sea of flame.'" From what book is this page 601? You really aren't citing your sources as well as you could. And see above for our comments on Caesar's flagrant testimony of mass sacrifice -- it was very likely mostly fraud.
"Since November ushers in the darkest and most barren half of the year, the autumnal festival acquired sinister significance, with ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, fairies and demons of all kinds roaming abroad.... The crops as well as the flocks and herds had to be protected from demonic influences that were rife at the turn of the year. It was the time to placate the supernatural powers controlling the processes of nature. Coupled with this were fire rites, divinations, funerary practices and masquerades...." Nothing to really quibble with here. Again, ancient people were a very superstitious lot. They blamed things they couldn't explain on supernatural creatures. Their rites were an unnatural perversion of the attitudes toward God we were expected to have.
"It was on Halloween that the general assembly, or open-air parliament (Freig), was held at Tara in Celtic Ireland... The proceedings opened with sacrifices to the gods at Tlachtgha in County Meath, the victims being consumed by fire." Ok. Great. What does the past have to do with the present right now? Much less with a children's card game? This is not relevant to anything. It's a great history lesson, but that's not what we were looking for. Right now, Halloween is nothing more than an excuse for candy as I illustrated earlier.
"What kinds of "gods" were appeased by these sacrifices? We know that the Celts -- like the Greeks, Romans, Mayans, Scandinavians and other earth-centered religions of the last two millennia -- sought favors from a wide range of nature gods and goddesses. This pantheon of supernatural beings usually included a ruthless god (or goddess) of the dead whose standard domain was the underworld. Considering the Celts' fear of nasty ghosts or spirits from the underworld during the Samhain celebration, one might suspect that the powerful Druids, their spiritual rulers and political advisors, did indeed encourage sacrifices to the God of the Dead."
Good for them. So their political leaders were corrupt and crazy like ours, big deal. Actually, though, we do know quite a lot about the Celtic (mostly Irish) pantheon. Sadly, much of the customs associated with death were in fact pretty frightful -- take the Cult of the Severed Head as an example.
"An online version of the Encyclopedia Britannica includes a few more details: "Huge bonfires were set on hilltops to frighten away evil spirits.... The souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on this day, and the autumnal festival acquired sinister significance, with ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, black cats, fairies, and demons of all kinds said to be roaming about. It was the time to placate the supernatural powers controlling the processes of nature."
You said that very thing a few sentences ago. Again, this has no relevance on the topic at hand. Your attempts to somehow connect Yu-gi-oh (based on Egyptian mythology and a children's card game) to ancient Celtic fire-festivals is absolutely laughable. Oh, and you spelled faeries wrong. They were Celtic faeries, or fey. Calling them fairies is incorrect terminology. Faeries include the nasty goblins, hobgoblins, sidhe, pixies, and spriggans you wanted to refer to. Fairies are the cute little winged people in kids' stories.
"Halloween was thought to be the most favorable time for divinations concerning marriage, luck, health, and death. It was the only day on which the help of the devil was invoked for such purposes."
Well, the devil was invoked in marriages. What a happy bunch of people. Amazing. And totally irrelevant.
"With today's international efforts to tear down Biblical boundaries to the pluralistic world of the occult, the floodgates are opening wide. And the spirits once honored during the fall ritual are fast becoming everyday companions to children around the world."
International efforts? Good sir, you make it sound like there is a giant, world-wide conspiracy afoot. A conspiracy so insidious that even those nasty New-agers and Neo Pagans don't even realize they are part of it. A conspiracy that is lead by Lucifer to poison the souls of our children. You give the devil way more credit than he deserves. I suggest you go to a therapist and work out all your paranoia and fears with some rigorous counseling. And if there is some conspiracy effort going on behind the scenes then I will apologize when it comes to light. Until then I will maintain that this entire article was nothing but a wonderful joke and you are in delusion about the state of the world. Children can see the boundaries between reality and fiction you are unable to define.
Kelby Carlson and Kiera Eaton