1 – An almost silent war
An interesting report was published on 20th October 2005 in the section “Pensar” of the Correio Brasiliense (FD). It talked about the launching of the book by biologist Ernst Mayr, a great student of the work of Charles Darwin in the 20th century. It affirmed that we live in a silent war in today’s world, where creationism and the theory of “Intelligent Design” confront the evolutionist ideas of Charles Darwin.
Despite this question having appeared in articles of other newspapers and even in TV programs, it still pictures a certain absurd character, with an air of humour regarding the evolutionist theory. This character has been presented in other forms.
The stage of this fight is the book, the classroom, the conversation between friends during a film, and is not restricted only to USA. We already know of cases here in Brazil of students who refuse to study and get zero grades in question about this theme in the discipline of biology, for it contradicts their belief. They are ideas “spread” around, opposing themselves in provocations and strained debates, in times of exacerbated fundamentalism.
This war, typical of different centuries, reveals that ideas are interlaced in their expressions, from a simple school lesson to music, spreading and opposing themselves in different forums. Another silent ”revolution” of transmitted theological concepts is occurring, without however, having reached newspaper pages, as to the question of “man having originated from apes”. I imagine that this causes rage in the proudest because it goes against concepts established for centuries by the dominant religions in the western world.
The objective of this article is to analyse ideas which are being transmitted to children in the programs destined to this public, especially in regards to the concepts which are connected to spiritist ideas, and show how this material can be used by parents and evangelisers in the conceptual formation of children.
2. – Children’s TV
During the time of the kerosene lamp, recreation for children was to run around in the streets, spinning tops, blind man’s bluff, a series of games and nursery rhymes, activities which persist until today in many regions of the country and due to the insistence of many educators.
In the 1960’s, TV was a luxurious article which only one boy in each street had, and because of this, all the children of that street met up to watch programmes in that boy’s house. It was the beginning of TV, where everything was news and in the last forty odd years many things have changed. Nowadays we talk about digital TV, of interactivity. We were invaded by colours, by special effects and by many options of subscription TV channels. In Brazil, around 14% of the population has access to TV by subscription and 90% has access to regular TV. It is estimated that the average Brazilian child daily spends about three hours in front of the screen, the highest average in the world, according to research carried out by Brasilia University and published in the 18th January 2006 edition of Veja magazine.
TV has transformed itself in a didactic tool and has entered into school. Films, series, soap operas and cartoons directed at the child public and produced throughout the whole world are part of TV, the substitute for the story-telling child sitter. These programs which invade our houses without asking permission bring with them their symbolism and their script concepts, sometimes originating from the culture of the country which produced them or, sometimes, a mere cultural merchandise of habits and values, inserted consciously to stimulate in a sublime manner the consumption of determined products; the inclusion of or combat against prejudice; the hatred of an enemy, of a country and even values of conduct.
3 – The Influences of stories and characters
However, how can these stories and characters can be translated to children concepts and visions of the world which can interfere in their own concepts? Children’s cartoons substitute the old story-tellers, the narrators of other epochs, who narrated the everyday and the wonderful.
The great difference is that the story today already comes with text and image, already “processed”, with lots of information and little space for interpretation or imagination, allowing reduced space for discussion.
The fairy tales presented in modern cartoons have roots of being psychological instruments with which the child can face a world full of difficulties, seeking the identification of heroes, having today as differential an insertion of complex and long relationships amongst the characters, with psychoanalytic roots, where the “moral of the story” persists, generally associated with “politically correct” thought.
So these stories present to our children solutions of how to face the world, heroes, idols, formulae and contextual truths. Yes, each cartoon has logic, a set of rules that work as a “truth” of that cartoon. For example, in “Tom & Jerry”, despite not speaking verbally, the animals (cat and mouse) think and communicate, which differs from reality, but for all that, the cartoon has a contextual reality.
The child in his imagination imports those contextual truths and returns to our world, in his journeys of reliving the stories. These contextual truths influence the way the child sees the world, as he lives in a world with new rules. The child will not be able to fly like “Peter Pan”, but the contextual truth of not wanting to grow can be for them an interior and exterior truth. Children slowly get to discover that they cannot shoot rays through their hands, but slowly also discovers that that, if they do not face the world, they will not be able to overcome obstacles. These ways of thinking get to oppose themselves and build the child’s vision of world, mediating his or her fantasy world with the real world.
The question is that this logic of the world of fantasy was always monopolised. Due to the dominant ideology and the culture of the producer, the oldest cartoons, such as the quoted “Tom & Jerry”, “Woody Woodpecker”, “Popeye, the Sailor Man” or “Mickey Mouse”, always deal with more crucial theologies, such as God and life after death, in a classical and secular form, representing always the opposition between angels and demons, heaven of clouds and flaming hell, as in the medieval style, with caldrons and harps. The geopolitical context was always another... Thereby, these paradigms were reinforced and naturalised in the children who watched those cartoons.
4 – The Spiritist Concepts
With the 80’s, with the fall of the Berlin’s wall, with the beginning of globalisation, the world started to exchange cultures more. With the broadening of the communications, with the internet and TV by subscription, with the entrance of cartoons of other countries, especially the European and Japanese, the ideological axis of these cartoons changed.
The cultures of these countries now came interlaced in these new cartoons and the fall of more traditional models, the advancement of the space race and of the astronomy, all this caused the religious thematic to have another approach in the contextual truths of animated cartoons. The imagination necessary to the competition needed to take flight and every vision of the world was important to build a new story. The public, more critical and clear, became more demanding and wanted more information.
To illustrate this which is the central point of this article, we cite some more recent cartoons directed to the child public, the majority still being shown, identifying concepts in them similar to spiritist concepts, described in the table below:
Evolution fo the Spiritis
Communicability of the spiritis with the incarnated/
immortality of the soul
Plurality of the inhabited worlds
Plurality of the existences (Reincarnation)
In the list below you find the cartoons and, in case the reader has difficulty in identifying or to know something more about the titles, you can ask you son, daughter or nephew, who will certainly know. Certainly, the majority of these cartoons have a great deal of violence and in many cases, explicit violence. However we do not propose to evaluate the cartoon per se but to verify the change of the concepts transmitted.
INU YASHA -. A Japanese success, it tells the story of a girl who enters into a well at the bottom of her garden and from there returns to the time of feudal Japan, where she lives in situations related to her incarnation of that time, as a sacerdotal. Concept: D.
AVATAR - A recent cartoon from Nickelodeon, it talks about a time in China where people dominate the elements of air, water, earth and fire and the Avatar who would establish order is the one who has already incarnated in the tribes of the four elements. Concept: D.
DRAGON BALL –. Japanese cartoon inspired by a Chinese legend, it tells the story of a boy with a monkey tale, who is very strong, who in truth came from another planet and lives adventures on Earth, in search of the spheres of the dragon. Concepts: B & C.
YU YU HAKUSHO - Japanese cartoon where Yusuke Urameshi is an undisciplined young boy who lost his life in order to save a child from being run over by a car. As a reward, he becomes a “detective” of the spiritual world, fighting great battles. Concept: B.
The Zodiac Gentlemen - Another great Japanese success in which the young people of a orphanage are raised by a millionaire who trains them to become knights with special armour in order to save the Earth from imminent danger and to defend the young Saori, a reincarnation of the Goddess Athena.Concept: D.
The Mummy - North American cartoon inspired by the remaking of the 1932 classic. It pictures a family of archaeologists against a mummy who returns to life. It is based on Egyptian mythology, and deals with the reincarnation of the characters with great ease. Concept: D.
SHAMAN KING - Japanese cartoon which narrates the adventure of young shamans (mediums) who, with the help of warrior spirits of the past, fight battles “incorporated” amongst themselves. Concept: B.
DISNEY - The Disney mega studio has interesting themes, such as Brother Bear and Mulan, which present ostensive contacts with entities already discarnate and others, such as Lilo and Stitch and Chicken Little, which deal easily with life on other planets. Concept B.
STAR WARS - The saga of the six films of George Lucas and the several cartoon spin-offs, which, besides considering life in other planets, talk about “the force”, a type of fluid which can be manipulated. It also presents discarnate characters which carry out apparitions and communicate with the incarnated. Concept: B and C..
GHOSTBUSTERS - Cartoon inspired by the successful film that had in its continuations the formation of a group that decides to set a company to hunt ghosts. Concept: B
SCOOBY-DOO – The old fearful dog and his friend Shaggy still enjoy much success, in the film and the cartoons. Communication with spirits is, in the majority of cases, revealed as a hoax for commercial ends. However the episodes never negate the existence of these phenomena. Concept: B.
MARTIN MYSTERY -. A young student and his sister together with a caveman are members of an agency which investigates paranormal events on several planets, and mediumistic phenomena of all kind appear in the episodes. Concepts: A, B e C.
MONICA’S FRIENDS - Our dear Brazilian characters present of a lot of concepts with the astronaut who visits other planets, Horacio and Piteco -the dinosaurs and Penadinho’s friends during pre-history time, which always bring reincarnation and mediumship aspects. Concepts: A, B, C e D.
DINOSAURS - Diverse cartoons from different nationalities which have as their background the question of the dinosaurs, characterising the ideas of evolution. Concept: A.
DANNY PHANTOM - North-American Cartoon that tells the adventures of a boy, son of ghost hunters, who by accident starts to be able to turn into a ghost and fight the bad ghosts, searching to defend his town, with several mediumistic phenomena in the episodes, as for example incorporation. Concept: B.
HARRY POTTER - The most famous young wizard of the planet, affirming his English origin, presents ghosts from the past walking around the school and talking to students in all the films. Concept: B.
As we can see, the list is extensive and certainly incomplete. Ask any child and surely they have already watched some of these cartoons, as they are all recent. Besides, the majority of them have their version in a book or a comic.
Obviously, the concepts presented in the cartoons present several distortions of the spiritist concepts, but this does not invalidate that the previous paradigm of heaven versus hell was broken. As we expected, the predominance is in the questions of mediumship with its facets and in life in other planets, fruit of the advancements on Astrology and of the discoveries of Instrumental Trans-communication and related studies, being the cartoons originated in the Far East, the ones that present once again the question of reincarnation, which enriches the plot much more.
5 – How to potentiate this?
As said before, certainly our students of evangelisation or our kids watch or have already watched at least one of these cartoons. It is inevitable, as these cartoons are in school, in the licensed products and in the newsagents.
This relationship which our child in the process of evangelisation establishes with one of these programs is a unique opportunity to explore the spiritist and even moral concepts inserted there and to create a fruitful discussion about the theme. Today’s education revolves around working from the student’s reality.
If in this reality we are already finding concepts that are related to our spiritist concepts, we have to bring them to critical analysis. It is not only up to us to see the world contained in the spiritist doctrine but also to identify the spiritist doctrine in the world. As the appeal to and the influence of these cartoons on kids is enormous, the convergence point must serve as “the thread” to initiate a discussion of their content. If you are in the sitting room with friends, watching one of these cartoons, explain to your child (who has been attending evangelisation), what really happened on the light of the spiritist doctrine, the concept which has consolidated there.
6 - Conclusion
Sometimes we tend to isolate or to ignore the material shown on TV for they hurt the philosophic purity. The fact is that the silent revolution of the theological concept is here. However, rarely one of these cartoons will be integrally faithful to the philosophic concepts, even if their purpose is otherwise. Certain basic conceptual mechanisms can be illustrated from these elements of the child’s reality, allowing them a better discernment. To run away from this is to hide inside one’s shell, just like our creationist friends.
Marcus Vinicius de Azevedo Braga is pedagogue, children’s evangeliser and frequents Gremio Espirita Atualpa in Brasilia(DF), and published in 2001 the book “Happiness in serving “ by FEB.
Translation: Renata Rinaldini
Source: O Consolador - Weekly Magazine of Spiritism, Year 3 - N° 131 – November 1, 2009