In the 1961 film, “The Innocents,” which I feel is quite scary, a societal taboo is thrown on the screen for everyone to see. Deborah Kerr’s character, a governess named Miss Giddens, shares two romantic kisses with 10-year-old Miles, played by Martin Stephens. The kisses are part of the plot: Miles has been possessed by the evil spirit of the deceased Mr. Quint.
Kerr, a sophisticated lady of considerable acting ability, was obviously “stretching” her craft, and the two brief scenes remain part of film lore. Much like the adult themes in “All in the Family” a decade later, the encounter between a 40-year-old woman and a child broke down barriers in media. I don’t think we are the better for it.
The innocence of our children has been assaulted ever since, and the practice is now aggressively pursued in publishing. Witness the headlong plunge into publishing paranormal themes.
An announcement this week in Publishers Weekly reveals this trend: “In a major acquisition, Erica Sussman at HarperTeen bought four new books by Kiersten White. Agent Michelle Wolfson at Wolfson Literary brokered the world rights deal for White, whose third book in her current bestselling YA series at HarperTeen, ‘Paranormalcy,’ will come out next summer. Wolfson called the first book in the deal, ‘Mind Games,’ a ‘dark thriller’; it follows two teenagers, with special powers, operating in a world where corporations rely on psychics and mind readers. The deal also includes two standalone books, as well as a sequel to ‘Mind Games.’ One of the standalones, ‘Flood and Stone,’ is about the progeny of an Egyptian god who’s trying to escape the drama within her family. HarperTeen plans to publish two books per year starting in winter 2013.”
By now, you are also aware no doubt of the huge success of author Stephenie Meyer. Her “Twilight” series, four books in all, has sold more than 116 million copies worldwide, and has been translated into 38 languages.
Centered on a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire, the sensual nature of the books and films appeals to young people.
Meyer has stated that the idea for the first novel came to her in a dream in 2003; she now makes more than $40 million a year.
No less than Stephen King has said of Meyer’s books: “People are attracted by the stories, by the pace, and in the case of Stephenie Meyer, it’s very clear that she’s writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up kind of a safe joining of love and sex in those books. It’s exciting and it’s thrilling and it’s not particularly threatening, because it’s not overtly sexual.”
Well, yes it is. The point is that our culture is obsessed with children growing up as fast as possible. Opening the dark door of the paranormal has left them exposed and vulnerable. Vampire novels aren’t the only thing available not only to children, but to adults who are looking for some type of meaning in their lives.
Of course, the “other” other-worldly character being promoted is the ghost. Television shows and books on the subject are now competing with vampires and UFOs for the attention of everyone. Again, the disturbing thing about it all is the influence on young people.
In the Bible, God warns man not to dabble in such activities. In Deuteronomy 18:9-12, we see this clearly: “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.”
Naturally, this is a quaint thought for most in our world today, who have been thoroughly indoctrinated in the false teaching that the Bible was meant for another time. The admonition, however, is quite clear.
Incredibly in our world today, the concept that there is really no such thing as a “ghost,” at least in the classic sense, is almost unknown. By bringing it up, I will be labeled a fundamentalist nut, because, the thinking goes, ghosts are as much a part of our world as UFOs.
Not according to the Bible.
Yet the Bible’s credibility is constantly attacked.
“Comedian” Penn Gillette has a new book coming out, “GOD, NO! Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales.” I assume it is not a defense of the faith.
Back to the ghost thing.
A story in PW, by Lenny Picker, takes note of the proliferation of ghost books on store shelves: “At a time when it would be hard to swing even Schrodinger’s cat in a bookstore’s horror section without knocking a score of zombie and vampire books from its shelves, several authors have chosen ghosts as the medium for exploring truths about human nature, rather than the walking dead or the hematophagic.”
But, as Picker astutely points out, this isn’t a new trend, but perhaps one that is being recycled: “Look beyond the genre and you’ll find that writers from Dickens to Faulkner to the Bard himself dealt with the ghost story at some point, not to mention Henry James, Shirley Jackson, Edith Wharton, Noel Coward. It’s common ground for storytellers, and that’s not surprising to me – of the great motivations for writing, addressing mortality and the unknown are high on the list. What the ghost story allows – that intersection of past and present – is so multi-layered. It can be frightening or sweet or sad or even funny, and, in the best ghost stories, it is often all of those things.”
Sadly, however, because few today look to the Bible for wisdom, it appears that millions will be swept into the fervor surrounding ghost stories … and not realize the real identity of these entities is much more sinister than most can comprehend.