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After coffee with friends at Barnes & Noble last night I was paying for a book and noticed the most recent cover of TIME magazine and then went to bed wondering why: one US soldier a day commits suicide. Then this morning I woke up to the horrific news of the theatre shooting in Colorado during the midnight showing of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. At this writing, 13 are confirmed dead.

Reports I’ve seen say the shooter wore a gas mask, tossed a smoke grenade in the air and started shooting which is precisely the scene Warner Bros. used as a teaser in their trailer for this movie. My first tweet this morning was:

Prayers for hurting CO families. Is it too early to ask: Last night did Hollywood reap what they’ve sown? #violence #batman #buckstopswhere

I’ve been a minister and police chaplain long enough to know those who minister on the front-lines of these tragedies are out of line if they start moralizing in those early moments. When I’m a first or early responder on the scene of devastation, or with hurting family, my role is to just be there and bring the presence of Christ, provide strength, offer comfort and sympathy, and enter into the hurt and cry with those who are crying. For sure my ministry colleagues in Colorado are doing just that this morning. However, it’s high-time pastors and community leaders everywhere else rise up and decry the root causes of the dark sides of our society. How long will we keep smiling and say nothing? Is it really true church youth groups are having Batman marathon movie lock-ins and going to this movie this weekend with their youth groups as they did for Twilight movies?

Over my dead body.

Bonhoeffer spoke of the victims of evil society and said the role of the Church is not just to tend to victims but to drive a spoke in the wheel of evil itself. In that vein, after Batman’s demons got the best of Heath Ledger while he was making the last Batman movie in 2008, I decided someone should say something so parents wake up. Here’s what I wrote about this subject, Batman and the Twilight movies, in 2008.

I haven’t heard yet any details of this twenty-four year old shooter in Colorado last night but I can say, personal responsibility for his actions aside, society holds a greater complicity in these horrible things and Hollywood in particular. One might hope Hollywood would have toned it down in honor of what the last Batman movie did to Heath Ledger.

In meeting this past spring with the Governors staff on the topic of our states high incarceration rates I asked: how radical a solution are you willing to consider? We were talking about what our bordering states were doing and I asked how far beyond our borders are we willing to look for solutions? Then I mentioned some places around the world I’ve been to where they are closing prisons because there have been spiritual awakenings and revivals.

My point: more money, more education and more therapy isn’t working to drive out the darkness. We will continue to deal with devastations until we have courage to stand boldly against the true causes which we presently tolerate and even encourage. Those who clamor for more strict gun control laws need to wake up to what Hollywood and other roots causes are doing far far more to contribute directly to these increasingly frequent societal episodes of violence. Sadly, many of these same folks view Christianity as harmful to society and Hollywood as helpful. Crazy.

Now, back to the movie. My testimony is that I came to Christ in the midst of executing a suicide attempt. I know first hand about the occult and demons. The Bible talks about having a gift of “discernment of spirits” and all I’m saying is I know the spirit of death when I smell it. Many times I’ve seen, up close, the fruit of this foul demonic spirit- a daddy’s brains dripping off the inside roof of his pickup truck or splattered on the wall of his office behind his desk chair, a lonely single gal found by her mother in her running car with garage door shut, or the gray stiff body of a teenager on the back deck of his home right after the fire department cut the rope he was hanging from, etc., etc.

Here I’ll get even more transparent, probably too transparent for all you arm-chair psychologists. Two weeks ago I watched the recent three minute youtube clip of the California millionaire who committed suicide in the courtroom seconds after his guilty verdict came in. It’s all right there up close on video: the verdict was “guilty”, he then closed his eyes, put his face in his hands and obviously put something in his mouth. Turns out it was a cyanide pill. A minute later he let out a loud God-awful snort and fell out of his chair and writhed for a second on the floor. He was gone before they got to him.

Here’s what simply watching that did to me: I felt a numbing blanket come over me, felt a bit breathless and heavy-chested, things I was dealing with that week felt more hopeless and for a day or so later I was still having random thoughts like: that’s a good way to go, I wouldn’t go to jail for life either. Don’t worry, I know how to have victory over demonic thoughts.

Why do I tell that story? To plead with parents to be careful what you expose your kids to these days. The devil and darkness are real, and Hollywood rolls out the red carpet for these foul spirits to have full access to this generation.

My youth pastor reminded me just the other day of a story I told in some sermon once about when my boys were little. Kristen and I noticed our boys would get notably aggressive and violent after watching Batman- they’d grab the nearest thing and smash it into the face of the other. The fix seemed too easy to be true : no batman, no bruises. And there was peace in our house. Now, imagine society where the glorification of violence and death is reined in.

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Can you imagine… I wouldn’t let my three teenagers go see the most recent Batman movie because I’m convinced the spirit of death was/does operate in it.  Lead actor Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose of sleeping and anxiety meds during the filming of it and confessed the weeks before to struggling with insomnia since the filming began and that the movie “messed with his head.” His friends noted something came on him during the filming because he just looked different, drained.   

One of the spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament is the discernment of spirits. If you are wondering how I can conclusively say the spirit of death was operating in the movie Batman all I can tell you is I discerned the spirit and, coupled with my experience in deliverance ministry, coupled with police chaplaincy, my own personal testimony with the occult, and I’m telling you this isn’t the Batman of twenty-five years ago.

Go ahead and chuckle at me – but most of you haven’t been to the number of teen suicides I’ve been to in the last twenty years. I look at what’s on their walls when I walk in to see them hanging by their neck in the doorway. I’m not saying your kid will go kill himself if he sees Batman, I’m saying demonic spirits have full access to our kids today through media and entertainment venues and parents are clueless.

twilight-2And here, though I’ve not personally seen it, I’m going to urge you to keep your kids away from a hugely popular movie and book series – Twilight. I have only seen the preview and that was enough for me to shut the gate in terms of allowing this teen craze into my household.

My 14 year old daughter reports to me Twilight has fully captivated her high school peers. I got online and watched the trailer and learned it’s an action-packed, modern-day love story between a teenage girl and a vampire (a vampire is a corpse that returns from the grave to terrorize and drink the blood of the living – the idea that there is a good one out there, one who is lovable is dangerous fantasy and deception at its peak). 

The Twilight Saga is a Gateway drug –  lowering inhibitions and desensitizing.  It creates a fantasy world where girls experience Edward’s advances vicariously within their own imaginations – writes a Catholic blogger who has written extensively on this series. The movie and books are targeted to adolescent girls.  350 different fan websites are now on the internet averaging 31 female fans for every male. The demonic is after our daughters. It’s a part of the devil’s ancient war on women.

Parents need to be careful to not expose their daughters to the darkness that strategically emminates from this movie. One parent/Catholic school teacher reacted this way…

I agree, this is a female mass intoxication with disturbing implications. The book, which I finished yesterday, is hypnotic and addictive. The mixture of sexual stimulation and bloodletting/violence is sickening, yet despite having such strong misgivings, I did find myself anxious to read the book again. ..to see what happens.

Take a good look at the picture  above and see if you can’t figure out a few reasons why I don’t want my daughter imagining herself in the arms of that spirit. I don’t want my daughter running around joking with guys quoting this movie – bite me, I want you to bite me.  Or how about this…

What would you say if your high school aged daughter told you she was dating a vampire who had to fight the urge to kill her and suck her blood every time they were together?  And you thought dating a football player was bad enough!  If you were a sensible parent you would intervene and end the relationship, fearing that it might end in tragedy.  In fact, you would have an obligation to protect your daughter from the danger she was unwilling to recognize.  Your love for her would compel you.  So, what would you say if I told you your high school age daughter really is dating a vampire, vicariously, by reading The Twilight Saga?  Oh come on – you might think – it’s not the same thing at all.  The story is just a fantasy.  What’s the big deal?  Nobody is really getting hurt here.  Or are they?

Do you think I’m over-reacting? Here’s the deal, we do deliverance ministry week in and week out here at our church. These seemingly minor things – like movies, books, posters, charms – are welcome mats to the unseen evil world. We have discovered all it takes is one willful glance at soft core porn to release powerful demonic spirits of lust and perversion into seemingly strong men. Within months, good dads start walking around like zombies fully captive and bound to their perversion. Families are destroyed.

I discern the same demonic, blood-drinking spirit in Twilight that I battle against in the abortion industry – a demonic spirit that targets our daughters to drink the fresh blood of the emerging generation that bears the image of God.

Evil has a world-class marketing department and they are masters at packaging stuff to touch deep needs in the human heart. And there is no sector of our society more receptive and vulnerable than adolescent girls. Wake up parents! My wife was a middle school teacher and for years she kept current on the literature marketed to adolescent girls today. She regularly commented to me it’s far worse than parents realize in terms of sexuality and sorcery.

Some will say I’m sheltering my kids too much. Thanks for your concern but my kids have been in public schools and I’m pretty sure they aren’t in for much culture shock when they enter the “real world.” But hello? Isn’t my role inherently a sheltering role? I will continue to stand in prayer and in practice between my daughter and the demonic.

Here is a link to some other critical reviews of Twilight. Though a couple of my favorite Christian and pro-life bloggers are loving the Twilight series I do not share their enthusiasm.

I’ll end on a bright note. Youth today are wide open to the reality of the spiritual world. Between Christmas and New Years again this year our family will head to Kansas City for the annual OneThing Conference. It’s with great joy I report my three can’t wait to dive into the Book of Revelation which is to be the main focus of Biblical exposition this year at OneThing. This same God-given curiousity that the darkside is exploiting in movies like Twilight can been seen at One Thing as 30,000 young people pursue the One who is love and fully supernatural.

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