There is an animated film which is premiering this Friday called ParaNorman.
When the trailer for this movie first appeared, I confess the title gave me pause. The play on words with paranormal gave me (obvious) reason for concern. What I saw of the brief synopsis clip was the world imperiled by zombies (which is not surprising as they are popular within television and movies) being saved by a small group of kids.
My children are now college age adults so the movie didn’t capture my attention beyond a cursory view.
The other day, a friend sent me a message asking me to look into the film a little more closely. So I read up on it a little more. I watched a few of the video clips which are available. What I discovered is ParaNorman is indeed an animated film (from the creators of Coraline) about a bunch of kids who are saving the world from zombies (raised via the ghost of an evil witch) and possibly some (typically) ignorant adults. By the way, it’s just my opinion, but from the clips I’ve seen ParaNorman will frighten emotionally (or spiritually) sensitive children (most likely ages 10 and under).
What is truly bothering me about this movie is the title (hero) character, Norman.
He is presented as a young boy who fills his life with scary images of monsters and zombies (I know, typical these days). Norman is misunderstood by his parents, disliked by his sister and most of his schoolmates. He is bullied and keeps to himself (although it looks like he has one companion who’s odd in his own way). What’s important to this story is Norman is told he has a destiny to save the world because of his “special gift”. And what is this unique ability?
Norman can communicate with the dead.
I‘ve written many posts over the last three years (and a book) on why being a medium or seeking interaction with spirits (ghosts) is a spiritually dangerous activity. I’ve quoted from scripture multiple times what God has to say about consulting or communicating with the dead.
To paraphrase: He says “Do Not Do It!”
Do we really need to encourage children with the idea of being a medium or psychic? Do they need to be shown having the ability to “talk to the dead” as a “gift” or as “desirable”? The other day, I wrote a post about the subtle seduction of children by the enemy to embrace occult, supernatural, or paranormal ideas expressly forbidden in scripture. I think ParaNorman is a case in point.
I do believe it’s up to the parent’s discernment as to whether or not a child should watch a movie like ParaNorman (or Harry Potter, Coraline, or any others) but only if they are going to do so with them so they can discuss and present a biblical answer to questions raised.
And this is where we come to it.
Are Christian parents taking responsibility for their children’s spiritual training? Do they know what the Bible says about these topics themselves or are they letting their children watch or read things like ParaNorman without considering what’s being taught through popular culture? Are Christian parents being led by the Holy Spirit, using discernment through reading God’s word, or are they influenced by those same cultural voices themselves, unaware of the spiritual danger?
I decided to write this article because I saw a post asking “Should Christian parents allow their children to see ParaNorman?”
If you want my opinion on the matter, the answer is a resounding “NO”. While there are certainly fantasy elements within the film (zombies being raised through use of spells or curses to name one), the idea is definitely being presented that ghosts (human spirits) surround us, we can communicate with spirits in some fashion, and it’s a “gift” (even if a socially awkward one) to do so.
Not exactly a Biblical perspective.
As Christians, do yourselves (and your kids) a favor. Find an alternative movie to watch at home as a family or see in the theater (there is one called Wreck It Ralph which looks promising). Veggie Tales has some cute movies called The League of Extraordinary Vegetables and The Penniless Princess. Additionally, there is Ice Age 4, Brave, Madagascar 3, and other films as viewing options. The bottom line — it’s always better to be pro-active and participatory when it comes to what a child reads, watches, or listens to as entertainment.
Philippians 4:8 tells us “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Should Christian parents not ensure the same for their children even more?