Looming war with Iran and a possible second recession not enough to keep you up at nights? Then joint the protest against Hasbro’s pink ouija board. Yep, there she is, all decked out in Barbie colors (except that’s a Mattel product), ready to beseech Asmodeus, the goat-spawn devil of hatred, whether Joe Jonas would ever come to the Westmoreland Mall Galleria food court and ask Jessica out on a date.
The Czar’s favorite line from the article:
“There’s a spiritual reality to it and Hasbro is treating it as if it’s just a game,” said Stephen Phelan, communications director for Human Life International, which bills itself as the largest international pro-life organization and missionary worldwide. “It’s not Monopoly. It really is a dangerous spiritual game and for [Hasbro] to treat it as just another game is quite dishonest.”
Phelan, who has never played the game, said the Bible explicitly states “not to mess with spirits” and that using a Ouija board will leave a person’s soul vulnerable to attack.
“All Christians should know, well everyone should, that it’s opening up a person to attack, spiritually,” he said. “Christians shouldn’t use it.”
Asked how the game differed from magic kits or Harry Potter-themed merchandise, Phelan replied, “The difference is that the Ouija board is actually is a portal to talk to spirits and it’s hard to get people to understand that until they actually do it. I don’t pretend to know how it works, but it actually does.”
Phelan also noted that the pink version of the game is explicitly marketed to young girls who may want to partake in “something dangerous” during a late-night sleepover.
Ho-kay, let’s clear this up.
1. There is no spiritual reality to a Ouija board other than what you imagine it has. Phelan cannot define the danger because even he has no idea what the threat might be; it is as real a threat as a Magic 8 Ball or a fortune cookie.*
2. Phelan has never played the game. If Phelan, et al., is so weak in his religion that pushing around a plastic puck on a piece of cardboard risks his soul to immediate possession, then he is in dire need of spiritual counseling from someone other than a guy who downloaded his ministry certificate off a website. In the Czar’s day, they made Christians a whole lot tougher. Christians have apparently gone from stoic calm while facing down a Roman Colisseum lion to being terrified of a kid’s game. As they would have said to Nero, “Cresci duōs, amicus.”**
3. Unless there is a dubiously new translation out there, the Czar is pretty sure the Bible lacks any explicit occurrence of the phrase “don’t mess with.” The Bible says many things about avoiding ungodly things, but curiously lacks any references to “messing with” anything. Phelan extrapolates what he reads; if he is a fundamentalist, then he is serious error of putting things into the Bible that do not exist. There’s a prohibition about that, too, that is explicity called out.
4. If Phelan is so worried about being attacked by something as the result of a Ouija board, he needs to grow up. This is not a spiritual matter, but one of maturity. Fearing things from a Nineteenth Century parlor room trick is equivalent to fearing Santa Claus. Cute in a kid; pathetic, really, in an adult.
5. Let us review. Phelan has never used one, has no idea how it works, but suggests that until you actually do use one, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Ergo, Phelan, you have no idea what you’re talking about.
6. A Ouija board is not a portal to talk to spirits. It is, again, a parlor room trick. Phelan is advised not to base his knowledge of these things on he sees on television and movies.
7. Ouija boards do not work; they are a total waste of time. The Czar goes further than Mr. Phelan in saying Christians should avoid them; everybody should. They’re just dumb. So what happens with one?
The concept is simple: everyone puts their finger tips gently on the puck. A person asks a question, and everyone allegedly concentrates on the question. Slowly, the puck moves to a series of letters or numbers which s-p-e-l-l out the answers.
Which, simple tests can show, are not objectively correct. In fact, the accuracy of answers tends to increase the more the participants know about a subject; the less they know, the more inaccurate they tend to be.
Example: take a bunch of fifth graders, and ask the Ouija board what’s the capital of Nebraska. Wow, but it surely but slowly spells Lincoln (or more likely, Lincon). Now have the ten-year-old participants ask the all-knowing Ouija board “If x equals 51, what is the square of x over 17?” Bet it never hits nine. You can argue that the evil spirits cannot do math; but odds are good Mr. Phelan can’t either.
So what actually occurs is a consensus result—when the participants more or less know the answer they expect to see—and subtly the finger tips push the puck to the expected answer. Everyone is amazed. What is more curious to clever folks like you is that when you have five or six people playing, and there is a disagreement as to what the correct answer will be. Simple tests again show that the puck moves toward either (a) the majority vote or (b) the opinion of the stronger-willed person in the group.
Figuring it out? The fingers of the participants slowly guide the puck toward the desired answer. Now, and very importantly, because multiple people are doing it, it takes very little awareness or effort from any individual. So you feel as if you are barely touching it—indeed, if you lift your fingers off the puck, it continues to move! Because, of course, the other participants are guiding it. Your fingers are not sensitive enough to feel yourself moving it, but they are sensitive enough to feel slight resistence if you attempt to change the puck’s direction.
Cool, eh? Of course, for folks like Stephen Phelan, this type of group psychology is something terribly frightening. No doubt Mr. Phelan still falls for the hooked hand killer story around campfires. Chump.
* The Czar concedes that if your fortune cookie contains a handwritten note that mentions your full name followed by a detailed threat of how the meal you ate was poisoned, you might take that seriously.
** Grow a pair, buddy.