Friday, July 29, 2016

Paranoid Ramblings about Pokémon

This post is a response to the article "The truth about Pokemon" by Ryan Schwanbeck.  The blue indented portions are quotations from the article (I've included almost every word).  The rest is my response.  He lists several links, which I did not copy.  You can check his original article if you're interested in them.

Disclaimers:
  • I competed in debate in college and sometimes I have nowhere for that debating energy to go and if I don't do something with it, it hurts people.
  • I am a Christian.  I am not criticizing Ryan's Christian beliefs, or his desire to protect the children in his church, I AM criticizing the way he's going about it.
  • I don't play Pokemon Go, but my husband does.  We've been going on long walks every evening to catch Pokemon, and I've watched him playing the game.  I'm not interested in playing it, but it makes me really angry when people criticize things they don't really understand, and it makes me even angrier when Christians pretend they're doing it "for Jesus."
  • I don't have children, but I used to be one.  I remember how angry it made me when adults would criticize something I cared about without really understanding it.  It made me lose all respect for them.



Dear Friends,I feel urged to warn you about Pokemon. The Bible says to “train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6Pokemon has started making quite the stir lately with its newly released app Pokemon Go. Many people are wondering how to approach this topic. When issues like this arise it is our due diligence as leaders to research, pray, search God’s Word and seek God for direction so we can protect those we are leading and our kids. A general rule of thumb is that if something is not bringing me closer to Jesus then I may not need it in my life and “when you are in doubt, throw it out.”
How about, "when in doubt, find out more" or "when in doubt, don't pass judgement on things you don't understand"?  Do you actually have the expectation that your children not be involved in anything that doesn't bring them closer to Jesus?  So your kids aren't allowed to ride scooters, or watch cartoons, or play sports?  The question isn't whether anyone needs Pokemon in their life, but whether it's acceptable for children (and adults) who want to play the game to do so, or whether they should be afraid for their souls.
Please watch this unbiased video from the Miami Police Department to understand what the game is and what the obvious dangers are.
The most practical case that Pokemon-go can be a very dangerous game for kids is the fact that the Pokemon characters can be in someone’s house, a strangers backyard, a dangerous neighborhood, in or around water, or in the street. This can lead children into dangerous places without even thinking or tempt them to trespass….and plenty are! 
There are hot spots for Pokemon to gather and these spots never change. This means that people targeting children for abuse or kidnap can hang around these hot spots as children flock in.
There are day time Pokemon and night time Pokemon. More points are awarded for the night Pokemon. This suggests to children to be out during the night hours.
I'm going to call this the "responsible parenting" response.  Just like you teach a small child not to run into the street after a loose ball, you have to teach your kids not to trespass on private property, enter the homes of strangers, go into water without permission, leave your neighborhood, or go outside at night by themselves.  The reason Pokemon Go is dangerous is because it encourages kids to go outside and explore.  They're way more likely to be hurt while out in the neighborhood than sitting in your basement playing video games, but does that mean we should discourage it?  Teach your kids to use common sense, be aware of their surroundings, ask permission, and trust their instincts.  Better yet, GO OUTSIDE WITH YOUR KIDS.  You get to keep an eye on them, they feel like their parents care about something that interests them, and you might even meet some of your neighbors.

The "hot spots" are areas that people commonly go, like restaurants, churches, and parks.  If the child molesters haven't figured out to target those areas, I don't think Pokemon is going to make a big difference.

There's a misconception that a Pokemon will be inside someone's house, unreachable from the outside, causing kids to enter private property.  Unless you're talking about mansions, that's not how the game works.  You can catch Pokemon from about half a block away, so you can stand on the sidewalk and catch a Pokemon inside the house on either side of the street.  Also, here's an idea:  if there does happen to be a Pokemon inside a stranger's house, go with your kid, knock on the front door, explain the situation, and ask if you can come inside and catch it.  Make friends!

People have died in car accidents while playing.One kid in Dallas stepped on a copper head and was bit while playing.There are so many stories of people getting injured, killed, breaking laws, disturbing people’s homes or business, etc. Would a good or even neutral thing cause so much harm? Is it worth spending our time and attention on something that has so much potential for danger and tendencies to be idolized?
People die in car accidents while texting.  Does that mean texting is evil?  Cars kill tons of people every year, does that mean cars are evil?    Children are hurt by boiling water on a regular basis, is water evil, or just the act of heating it?  The problem is not with the thing itself, it's with the people using it.  We're going to see a lot more "Don't Pokemon and Drive" signs along the interstate, because people are fools with no regard for their own mortality.

Your kids might make some new friends, get some exercise, and have fun.  If you get involved with their lives a little and talk to them about the game, you might have fun too.  You can teach them lessons about how to use their phones responsibly while staying aware of their surroundings, and how to stay away from dangerous people, and how to respect private property.  Furthermore, most of the Pokemon players getting themselves into these terrible situations are adults, not children.

Pokemon means pocket monster.
That's nice.  There's a job-hunting site called monster.com.  Your point is??

Read some of the Pokemon’s attributes and what they can do “scorching, heating, stomping, anti-gravity, ultra-dimensional, taunting, use of poison, use of claws and biting, breaking opponents bones, reading minds, teleportation, inducing headaches, consumes people’s dreams, hypnosis, confusion.” Sound like any activity that we see demons do in the Bible?“Is Pokemon dangerous?  Potentially, yes it is.  It conditions the child who plays the game into accepting occult and evolutionary principles.  Haunter can hypnotize, eat a person’s dreams, and drain their energy.  Abra reads minds.  Kadabra emits negative energy that harms others.  Gastly induces sleep. Gengar laughs at peoples’ fright.  Nidoran uses poison.  The Psychic type of Pokemon are among the strongest in the game.  Charmander, Haunter, Ivysaur, Kadabra, and many more evolve.  The children are taught to use these creatures to do their will by invoking colored energy cards, fights, and commands. Much of it is reminiscent of occult and eastern mysticism.” (https://carm.org/what-is-pokemon)
I'm going to call this the "imagination paranoia" category.  Here's why it's demons that do those scary, supernatural things in the Bible:  because real, physical creatures can't do them.  They're supernatural.  So that creates all of this crossover where people's imaginations and the things that come from them are related to demons and witchcraft.  We saw the same thing with Harry Potter.  Harry Potter is a story about good versus evil, and it's VERY black and white.  Yet some Christians condemned it because there were good witches and they did spells.  Spells, by the way, that weren't real, in a world with mystical creatures like dragons and werewolves, just to make it clear that it's all fantasy.

Does it teach children to believe in evolution?  Sure, in the same way that a caterpillar turns into a butterfly or a child grows into an adult.  Does it teach children witchcraft or demon-worship?  Excuse me while I rescue my eyeballs...they seem to have rolled into the back of my head.

The creator of Pokemon, Satoshi Tajiri, is a professed satanist and made Pokemon for children to interact with demons. Tajiri stated in an interview that the game represents an attack against his Christian parents and stated that the games inspire Satanism.(Revision on 7/21/16: I understand that there are mixed articles on the statements made by the creator. It seems that there are mixed feelings to what was actually said in the interview in regards to Pokemon being anti-Christian. Although the creator may not have deliberately stated that Pokemon is anti-Christian that does not null and void the point that Pokemon is very much like occult practices.  We can see with multiple points and various resources that Pokemon, through many aspects, represents a dark side that is dangerous for children.)
Pokemon characters represent different demons. I highly encourage you to read this article of a former witch doctor that is now a follower of Jesus and how he discovered the resemblance of each Pokemon to that of demons he knew.
The author did add a correction to this statement, which is a half-apology, as you can see.  He should have begged the forgiveness of all of his readers for his shoddy research.  Here's the Snopes article debunking that interview.  It was a work of fiction, meant to be humorous, and is in no way true.  This shows me that the author is so determined to demonize a game that he doesn't really care about the truth.  Rather than writing a balanced, thoughtful article about the potential benefits and dangers of the game, he went the witch-hunt route.

The whole idea that Pokemon is somehow linked to the occult is laughable.  Go find a witch or satanist and ask them what they think of Pokemon, ok?  My guess is that they don't sit around as a coven playing the game together for occult practice.  While you're there, maybe you can convert them to Christianity.  +2 Jesus points!!

As for linking the characters to demons, this is an easy thing to do.  Have you seen those "what vegetable are you?" quizzes on the internet?  It's human nature to categorize things and look for similarities.  That doesn't mean I'm a cucumber.

Some reports link a Pokemon TV episode to child suicide.An episode of Pokemon anime had a unique scene that caused seizures in hundreds of children and accounts of kids vomiting blood. New York Times reported that its techniques of colored lights that flash alternatively cause tension in children that link to seizures.
While tragic, these things are mistakes, not intentional.  It doesn't speak to the intent behind the franchise, but rather the miscalculations of the artists and writers creating the show.  The game placed a bunch of Pokemon inside the Holocaust museum, which is highly inappropriate.  Not evil, just an embarrassing oversight.

A lot of trusted, major news outlets are saying that this game is a bit dark, erie, and dangerous. CNN even says that “It’s very 6th sense.” (Kind of sounds like looking into the spiritual realm.) This article even states that people have used this to lure people in and rob them and one girl found a dead body while playing.
I actually have no idea where this "dark, eerie, and dangerous" thing comes into play.  You catch little creatures, most of them are pretty cute, and you train them and help them grow and then you fight other little creatures.  We've talked to more of our neighbors since this game came out than in the year and a half that we've lived here.  We even had a conversation with some teenage boys in a park, and they're not people we'd normally interact with.

One girl found a dead body.  Have you watched the news?  Joggers find dead bodies practically on a daily basis.  Better stop jogging.

Luring people in and robbing them - every piece of technology in existence can be used to hurt people in some way.  It's not the technology's fault, it's the robber/rapist/murderer's fault.  We should be aware of these things when they happen, and we should always be cautious, but it doesn't mean we can't use Craigslist or respond to an online job posting.

I could go on and on and on with a lot more articles on how this game links to many dark things; however, I think you get the point. In conclusion, I think we can all see the practical dangers as well as the spiritual links to occult practices. I heard one of my pastor friends in children’s ministry say “The enemy is a coward so he targets our children.” We cannot pretend that the enemy does not go after children also. We teach children at our church that “there is no such thing as a junior Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is there to not only protect our children but use them to advance God’s Kingdom as well.
Let's not teach our kids that to be Christian is to be paranoid, suspicious of every bit of the world we live in.  Let's teach them to use their brains to analyze the good and bad in a situation.  Let's teach them to be courageous,  and not fear everything the secular culture has to offer.  We need Christians who aren't so stuck-up and separate from the world that they are no longer relevant.  If you're concerned about a new cultural phenomenon, don't just read a bunch of articles about it, read the book!  Play the game!  Go to the concert!  Experience it for yourself and make up your own mind.  Talk to your children about it.  Don't just assume that they'll be unknowingly converted to satanism if you don't stop them from taking part in something new.

It's good to be skeptical.  But it's not good to add rules to Christianity based on fear.  Christians can't read Harry Potter.  Christians can't play Pokemon.  Christians can't use incense.  These rules are arbitrary, based on misunderstandings, and frankly they make us look silly.  There are far bigger things going on with your children than this game, and if you don't know that, you need to talk to them some more.  Kids are dealing with real issues.  Use this game as an opportunity to connect with them and teach them some important life lessons.  Don't use it to harm your relationship and make yourself look even more out of touch.  Let them have fun.


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