George and Eileen Anderson
First published 1988 by Small Cords Press. Reprinted May 1988. Reprinted February 1990.. Second edition April 1991. On disk April 1994
We are grateful to many people, including the following who, while not necessarily agreeing with what we have written in this book, patiently answered our questions and supplied us with resource material, and often given us tea and bikkies:
To our many Catholic relatives and friends, with the desire that they shall distinguish between what is of man and what is of God.
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In this file:
This is our fourth book.
Our first one -Beyond Small Cords - made points by telling stories. Sugar-coated the pill, style of thing. Bits of it find their way into church newsletters now and then.
Our second -Beyond Murphy's Law - said that the supernatural is alive and well and you'd better learn to live with it. And handle it. We wrote the book for non-church folk. Like us, it's a bit earthy. Religious folk read it when nobody's watching.
Our third -Beyond Anarchy - was a how-to about getting into the kingdom of God. We wrote it for folk with a religious background. Non-church folk read it to understand why Christians are funny-peculiar.
Since this book we've written a fifth -Beyond the Mark - mainly on the numbering system that's being pushed instead of hard cash, the coded implant already in use, and one man's working thesis for world control.
And a sixth -Beyond Today - mostly short stories that take very seriously the indications that the Lord is coming back pretty soon, and suggesting it might be a good idea to get our attitudes adjusted to that fact before he arrives.
There's also a comic. CalledBeyond Murphy's Law Comic just to be original. It takes odd wow-stories from our books and sets 'em out in strip cartoon form. We've somewhat glamorised ourselves (losing many years and even more kilos in the process), but everyone has their fantasies, eh. For kids of all ages, but adults get the biggest kick out of it.
And a little booklet,Open Letter to Maori Christians. In Maori and English, says very simply the occult areas of Maoritanga and what to do about it. At present it's the only literature on the subject that we know of. One day a Maori believer will write something better, but currently there's a lot of psychic opposition to that. Pity.
Now there's this book.Beyond Magic.
Let's explain where we're going. For starters, we want to spell out the fact that magic isn't only something done by not-very-nice gentlemen with fancy garb and odd objects behind closed doors. (We don't mean conjuring tricks - rabbits from hats and bisected ladies. We mean the genuine stuff).
We'll show that magic is used commercially, domestically, socially and politically to force people to behave in a way that normally, sensibly they wouldn't dream of.
Even to force public attitudes on what is popularly to be considered nice ornasty at any point in time... Like - can you get the idea very firmly that, often as not, awfully good things are used to steer us. Or we're encouraged to react violently against certain specific bad things.
Once everyone was against teenagers and drugs, or anorexia. Then there was concern for street kids. After that, violence against women. Now it's child abuse. After the child is born, of course. Not before. (For some reason - best known to feminists - killing a kid prior to its birth is the right of every women. Or do we exaggerate?)
Anyone not joining in the chorus of protest and indignation is looked at sideways. C'mon, expend time and emotional energy! You surely don't approve of such evils.
Try saying that there are other evils. Try naming them. Try choosing what you'll crusade against. You aren't supposed to think for yourself. That's the object of magic.
And you ain't seen nuffin' yet. We'll move through the religious area, and clear away an awful lot of junk - and get into the practical one-two-three of living beyond magic in a totally real world that leaves so-called 'normal' existence for dead. On the way we'll have a fair bit of fun. Look with a bit of shock-horror-gasp at what the church is about to get up to. Name a few names. Tread on corns.
Hey! Some of the ground we're going to cover represents stuff like the Sabbath and versions of the Bible and things - all areas that some folk turn into a hobby-horse. A dead end. We're writing about them because they explain what's been going on. Things you should know. But don't make 'em the ne plus ultra (that's French for what I preach on every Sunday) of your little life. Concepts (even the concept of the kingdom) aren't worth going overboard for. If you're going to go fanatical, go fanatical about a Person. The King, no less. And let that fanaticism come from how you and he get on together. Not from something you've nutted out.
And - our usual warning... Don't believe or disbelieve anything you read in this book. Okay? Ask Dad about it. We're not interested in 'starting something'. It's too much like hard work. Dad's kingdom functions very nicely, thank you. And it's fun to be part of it.
Another thing. We'll be saying some pungent things about specific denominations. Sometimes tongue-in-cheek. Sometimes very seriously. But all the time, we (and you) have to remember there's a difference between the organisation and the people. The fact of a serious error in an organisation doesn't mean that you won't find any of God's people there.
But, look - if you're one of those people, remember the error or whatever that we point out isn't going to make life with Dad any easier. And there's not much point in looking at some other bunch and being smug that you've not got their funny little ways. Jesus has heard that before and isn't at all impressed.
Finally. As usual, this book is a joint effort 'twixt the pair of us. But if the "we" changes to "I" in mid-chapter, sweat not. If it's not sheer carelessness, it's usually that George is writing about Eileen, or Eileen about George - or whatever.
Enough ramblings. Read on, MacDuff...
Imagine a Hammer Horror Films type night.
Overhead, a storm that explodes with furious bolts of lightning, cannonades of thunder, and great torrents of rain. Your door is flung open to reveal a wild-eyed being, cloaked and hooded.
He sneers at you and your home as paltry and pathetic. In response to your angry protest he offers you the secret of how your fortunes could be changed.
There are spells, potions, ointments... Known to but a few... And very costly... But if they were yours...
You would receive power over others, control their thoughts and behaviour, become rich beyond your wildest dreams. Your will would be irresistable, and you would become utterly successful in love.
All this is offered you by the stranger as he describes the power that magic can play in your life. And if you were a simple peasant living in a lonely hovel on the edge of forest in the Dark Ages, you would be tempted to part with the few gold pieces that represent your life's savings. In the hopes that magic would transform you, and give you domination over all whom you meet.
Only the setting has changed.
No storm. No apparition in cloak and hood.
Instead, suave executives in Brookes Brothers suits. Who offer you precisely the same powers - by precisely the same methods - so you might have power, riches, total control of others.
Today the word "magic" is never used. "Motivation", "personality development" and other late-twentieth-century alternatives are preferred. And the spells and potions appear at the seminars in slick, yuppie-oriented guises.
Today the salesperson, business man or woman, or ambitious go-getter is likely to be highly versed in the black arts of manipulating others, thinking and imagining only success, positively, dynamically.
Today, technique is the name of the game. But the witches and wizards who purvey their dark trade are no more honourable and godly than they were in the past. And believers are still as ready to fall for their patter as were the gaping yokels of bygone centuries.
Because - quite simply - magic works.
* * *
DOES IT WORK?
"You should get a word-processor."
Everybody's been saying that to us. We could set the phrase to music.
And - if you saw the fun 'n' games involved in printing and publishing our own books - you'd probably join in the chorus.
It's not just a matter of slinging a scruffy stack of scrawly sheets torn from old notebooks at a publisher and letting him do the donkeywork of turning 'em into a heap of books.
We have all the hassle of typing and editing and knocking into shape and - oops - retyping because a page dropped out somewhere.
And friends who know the hard graft have been saying for yonks "You should get a word-processor."
Or YS-GAWP for short.
We won't bore you with the technicalities, except to say that word-processors can juggle sentences and paragraphs, correct spelling, number pages... And a whole load more. All at the touch of a button.
All for the outlay of a mere fortune.
So YS-GAWP kind of annoyed us, seeing as how we didn't have a mere fortune.
But - Eileen went on strike.
'Cos the elderly IBM typewriter (pre-golfball: a real museum piece) hadn't any more adjustment left. Which gave the last few lines on each page a bad attack of brewers' droop. And correcting mistakes ("I don't make mistrakes," she says vehemently) became a nightmare.
So Eileen was revolting. (Perhaps on strike sounds better.)
And in a fit of generosity I agreed to buy her a second- hand daisywheel
We edged cautiously into one of those plush office supplies places which is all very breathless and upmarket, where nothing has price-tags.
Explained to the sales person our desire for a s/h daisy.
Explained it was for writing, printing and publishing books.
"YS-GAWP", said the salesbody, propelling us over to a spot-lit display.
It was - no, we still won't get technical. But we'd seen computers before. And this was B-I-G. Like something out of Star Trek.
Not the sort that Cedric used to play spacies on; the one that fell to pieces on Boxing Day.
This was big-big.
And God said something.
But not to us. To the sales-gentleman.
Told him to give us the computer. would you believe. And we staggered from the shop under the weight of all the electronic goodies with mouths agape in amazement.
End of story? Not really. Start of story, actually.
The salesman had told us how to drive The Brute. But we were too excited to listen properly. So when we got the whole gubbins set up and switched on at home - nothing, but nothing happened.
We pushed a disk labelled "word processing programme" into one of the holes in the front of the machine.
Panicky phone call to the salesman.
A patient voice went over all that he had told us earlier. This time we listened. Took notes.
It seems that with good computers you don't switch on and drive off. They need to be booted into life with a special disk called an "operating system".
Sort of gives them a fundamental understanding of life, kind of thing.
After that, you can do word processing, play spacies, whatever.
Now, us two, we're not terribly bright, vis-a-vis computers. There's a simple reason. We're more than twelve years old.
And we weren't surprised that our first faltering thumps on the keys caused all kinds of error messages to come up on the screen.
Odd messages. Cryptic messages. All in computerish.
But by the end of three days, all we'd managed to produce was a letter to my sister that looked as if a hundred monkeys were having their first stab at the the works of Shakespeare.
Tatty was too grand a word.
"Computers don't work," I declared.
A friend dropped in. Saw our struggles. Was cynically amused.
"I had a computer once," he stated. "Sold it after a week. They're just expensive toys."
Another friend said much the same.
"You could try a computer club for a bit of advice. But the folk there are either kids yahooing at some Pacman game. Or boffin types talking gibberish. And like all clubs - moment you get in the door, they grab you for some committee."
Which makes computers just like religion, eh.
The sales talk is marvellous.
Fantastic new life. All your problems solved. Wonder how you ever managed without it.
Until you get the thing home. Away from the showroom.
And it doesn't work.
* * *
Then the phone rang.
Some bloke who had an identical computer to ours. Calling to say hi.
"Fabulous, aren't they."
We were in no mood to make small talk. Awful, rotten, lousy, maybe. Fabulous in the sense of smashing and as distinct from mythical - never on your nelly.
Tersely, in Anderson-type phrases, we told him that computers don't work.
"You'd better bring it over."
So we loaded The Brute into the van. Re-assembled it at his place. Noting that he had an identical twin sitting on a table in the corner. Purring quietly. Thinking complex electronic thoughts. Printing out neat, orderly results in a well-behaved, respectful manner.
With never an error message to besmirch its screen.
"Show me what you've been doing," ordered our new-found friend.
We plugged in. Switched on. Booted The Brute. And...
"There's your problem. You've got the wrong operating system!"
Deftly he whipped out our disk. Popped in his own.
And started to type.
The transformation was startling.
The Brute positively purred.
Words, paragraphs even, slid across the screen at the touch of a button. Mistrakes were corrected - click - just like that. Lines parted obediently to admit any number of missing words. And the printer printed as energetically as it knew how.
We asked for an explanation
"Computers are just a complicated bundle of wires, really," he told us. "They can't do anything by themselves. They need an operating system; a special set of instructions that go deep down into their gizzards and affect their whole outlook - the way they store information, the way they react, the works."
"So why couldn't we get ours to go?"
"You'd got an operating system that was pretty right - just enough to get you going. But not enough to work all the bells and whistles you need for a spot of hassle-free computing. Anyhow - you'll have no problems if you boot it with this system. Matter of fact, in no time flat you'll wonder how you ever managed without a word-processor."
We took The Brute home and - rather gingerly - tried it for ourselves.
Would you believe it worked? Like - incredibly. Oh, we made mistrakes. Still do. Ghastly ones, when we really try. But the system is (here comes a technical term) "user- friendly".
Which means that when you get thoroughly in the poo, it doesn't blow fuses or snarl up everything you've been doing...
...it tells you what you've done wrong, how to get back on course, and how to avoid that kind of trouble in the future.
Can we talk you into getting a computer?
* * *
Seriously though, folks...
Get the point? There's a strong tie-up between computers and religion.
Great-'n'-marvellous-'n'-wonderful, they are.
According to the sales-people. IBM and Commodore. Graham and Palau.
Come along to the club: kids playing Colossal Caves in one corner, eggheads muttering about the rival merits of Pascal and Fortran in another; while you find yourself on the committee that organises next week's barbecue. Or change the metaphor... Join a church: there are the 'in'-groups which might be totally irrelevant to you; plus the pressure to 'be more involved'.
When all the time, the acid test is - does it work at home? Does it work at work? When there's no bunch of experts within cooee.
What happens when you totally goof? Like - seriously drop one.
You see - anyone can work a computer if there's some expert to breath down his neck. To translate the gobbledegook of the handbook. To spend untold hours recovering lost data when the poor beginner has oopsadaisy accidentally erased something slightly vital.
No real problem if you've got a computer whiz at your elbow.
But a good computer (and good software) is one that won't crash. Won't lock up. Won't scrub something you've slaved over. And will help you when you do something dumb.
In other words...
If you're into a popular, trendy religious system, you're expected to be part of a well-organised bunch of enthusiasts...
That's very nice. And you'll be kept busy, weekends, evenings.
If you've got a religious system that's not adequate, you won't exactly chuck it (more about that later). You'll keep it "in case". For christenings (whatever they are), weddings and funerals. For Easter and Christmas. Other times you'll manage far better without.
There's got to be an operating system that delivers all that the sales-talk promises.
There's got to be an operating system that is more than a yahoo for the youngsters and an abstract intellectual massage for Schaeffer-lovers. One that'll work in the real world. Steadily. Day in, day out. Quick as a flash, if needs be. Cutting out drudgery. All drudgery.
With no limits to the possibilities it offers.
That's vital. Because we're human.
* * *
If you've read 'Beyond Anarchy' you'll know that the only system that works is the Kingdom of God.
So why go over old ground?
Answer: it's not totally old ground. As we see it, 'Beyond Small Cords', '...Murphy's Law' and '...Anarchy' were all lead-ins to 'Beyond Magic'. And the way events are shaping up, we're going to need to get shot of any magical elements in our lives fairly fast.
Magical? We're serious.
And we're not talking about having tikis and buddhas as ornaments. Or respecting tapus. That aspect of magic was covered in our other books.
But just in case you're a bit no-nonsense modern and think a serious mention of magic is a bit old-fashioned...
Be informed that even traditional ritual magic still has a following. Look in the Listener's small ads now and then and see the books and courses offered. Cloaks and swords and chalk diagrams and the rest of the paraphernalia didn't stop being used when Denis Wheatley died.
Though, okay, that's not an everyday sort of magic. And essentially we want to spell out areas of magic that are part and parcel of our society and our lives. So's you can identify those areas. Break their power. Live - beyond magic.
Right, then. Let's have a definition.
This mayn't fit too well with a dictionary, but it's as good a starting place as any.
Magic is any influence-at-a-distance that force hinders or stops an action or an attitude in someone.
Have a ponder on that.
It ain't magic to twist a bloke's arm and get him to yell that he likes rock music. Or Mantovani.
It ain't magic to get folk to work for you when you pay 'em double the award.
That's plain old cause-and-effect.
Here's some simple magic, though. Try it for size.
Before you scoff at that little lot - make sure you know yourself well enough. Doesn't hurt to ask spouse or best friend or worst enemy if you're ever under the influence of any of the above.
The simple fact is that all the items in that list have been the means of manipulating thousands - millions, even - of people. Sometimes individually. Sometimes in bulk.
Like subliminal advertising
Simple, effective and illegal. Nothing more than flashing some message on the screen for the merest fraction of a second. Too briefly for your conscious mind to recognise it. But in that form it bypasses your critical faculties and becomes embedded in your subconscious, to surface sooner or later as if it were your own idea.
Not nice, a simple trick that gets right inside your mind.
Cinemas used crude forms of subliminal advertising before governments clamped down and banned the technique.
Now - governments wouldn't ban something that doesn't work.
And governments aren't exactly moral. Ever heard of the CIA killing people? Wasn't there some highly civilised government behind the Rainbow Warrior affair? How ethical is NZ's government?
So the fact that something is illegal doesn't mean the big boys (governments, businesses, religion) won't use it. In fact O.W.L. magazine claims subliminal advertising was in regular use during the last election. You'd need a video recorder and enough patience to go over the tape frame by frame to check it out - but it's an area where millions of people are totally vulnerable.
Even if our TV networks are officially law-abiding, what's to stop a technician injecting a brief electronic image at intervals? The greater the reliance on computerised gadgetry, the easier it will be for anyone believing the end justifies the means to crawl inside our minds and tell us what to think.
Buy popcorn. Vote for Bloggs. Worship me.
Two more magical areas in which TV functions.
One is rather obvious. Study a crowd scene. Whether in a film or commercial.
Aren't the people handsome? If they aren't - aren't they all characters? Nobody's awkward or just plain plain. Doesn't it make you dissatisfied with yourself?
It should. It's intended to.
The motive is partly commercial. Keeps you chasing the latest image. Buying the in clothes. The correct warpaint. So you look cool.
Plus the motive is partly straight Satanic. Gets you away from reality and the fact that humans just aren't glamorous. They're nice. But ordinary. So to chase anything different is to go against the way Dad wants you to be and try for the impossible.
Anyhow - that's the obvious area of magic that TV works on. There's a more subtle one.
TV kills vibes. TV trains you - artificially - to accept a false set of signals from people. Women who don't smile are efficient and liberated. Men who frown and nod as they talk are sincere and can be trusted. Healthy kids shout and answer back. Smiling and laughing are proof of happiness.
Look - real people are complicated. They signal in dozens of different ways what they are, where they hurt, what they want to know. You just need to get used to meeting real people. Looking for the signals.
Unfortunately, a diet of looking at actors is only going to teach you the current fashions in acting stereotypes. Which means you can watch some overpaid dyke playing her version of a good wife and mother, or a jaded and much- married superstud playing the role of a naive country boy.
Sure - it's entertainment. But that's not the point. It's the number of hours that the box is actually on that counts.
Not the "let's sit down and really watch this", but the "oh, there's nothing good this evening" - and the thing flickers away in the corner, and we half watch, half turn the pages of the paper, make sporadic conversation. While attitudes and values and appearances and falsehoods drift into our way of thinking.
* * *
When we moved into our little backblocks cottage, we took our $50 black and white TV with us.
We've always regarded our TV watching as pretty moderate. No, we're not one of those families that "only watch the news". Our tastes are far more lowbrow than that. And the box only went on if there was something we both wanted to see.
Then. as we said, we moved to the backblocks. To discover that there's a dinky little hill behind our cottage, totally blocking all TV signals.
Everyone in the village gets perfect reception. Scarcely even need rabbits' ears. Us? Zero.
Snow and odd ghosts, all endlessly rolling up or down, depending on what knob we twiddled.
So out went the set, and we got a rebate on the license from a reluctant and unbelieving Telecom official in town.
And - we haven't missed it. TV is rather demanding. Cuts across conversation. You can't easily recapture a missed point - hence it tends to be incredibly superficial and create mass opinion on next-to-nothing.
Okay, we're biassed.
But for how long can your kids concentrate on anything?
How easy is it for you to read a serious book?
What opinions do you have that aren't based on a TV programme?
We need to be sure that our attitudes aren't merely being manipulated by the media. F'rinstance.
A while back, there was a lengthy documentary filmed in Australia featuring an internationally famous conjuror who performs under the name of "The Great Randi".
The documentary showed how Randi demonstrates that so- called psychic phenomena are totally fake, and particularly emphasised that dowsing and divining for water and metals is pure humbug.
Randi is a colorful personality; the film was fast-moving. The whole programme made good TV.
People we spoke to afterwards were adamant that The Great Randi had proved conclusively that water divining was bogus. They eagerly recalled the tests where pipes were laid and water sent through an elaborate network via numbered control valves, and the volunteer diviners - all men well-known for their skills - made fools of themselves in their inabiltiy to track the flow.
Now - we regard water divining as an illegal, psychic area. We're not defending it.
But Randi is a rationalist who is totally hostile to the paranormal. He is also a top-class professional conjurer.
And there was nothing in that documentary to suggest that he had, in fact, proved anything.
His debunking of the dowsers could very, very easily have been nothing more than a neatly executed conjuring trick. Oh, he had a couple of clergymen to monitor the results - that kind of thing. In the same way as Houdini used local police chiefs to supervise his escapes.
Not proof. Yet people thought they had been given evidence. Because they were told they had been given evidence.
Whereas - whether The Great Randi likes it or not - all they had been given was magic.
* * *
Magic. Governments use it. So do businesses.
Churches use it. So do families.
Magic. Influence-at-a-distance that controls.
When I was a kid and my father was a Baptist minister, church members used to bring him furtive brown paper packages.
"I've got a new one, Pastor," they'd say. "You'll know what to do with this. There's always someone who wants one."
Bibles. Old, falling-to-bits Bibles.
Spines broken, pages missing. Well thumbed and dog-eared. Long since outlived their usefulness.
So - what d'you do with them? Burn them? Chuck 'em in the dustbin? Fire comes out of heaven and barbecues you for that, eh. Give the tattered remnants of a hidebound King Jimmy to the minister. Let him worry.
Many was the manse we moved into that had a remote and cobwebby corner of the attic piled to the purlins with mouldering, mouse-housing Bibles. Some previous reverend's answer to the problem of what to do with an old, unusable Bible.
Ever read how folk who've been tied up in cults are 'de- programmed'? One of the steps involves them tearing up a photo of their former guru and weeing on it.
Takes quite an effort, even with hyperactive kidneys.
But afterwards... An unnatural link is broken.
"Hey!" you'll be protesting. "Not all the items in that so-called magic list
'Smatter of fact, most of them - maybe all - start off with good intentions. It's the power, the odd can't-quite- put-your-finger-on-it control that is so wrong.
Control needs to be up front. By mutual consent.
Because to yield to magical powers is to begin slithering down a greasy path. One little compromise, one "I don't like to make a fuss" makes it bloomin' tricky to do your own thing later on.
There are plenty of people and systems who cash in on the fact that you don't like to make a fuss.
"She expects us to. She'd be hurt if we didn't."
"The members voted you onto the committee. You can't say no."
And the oldest insurance trick in the book. Where the agent pretends he's jotting down facts and figures to give you a rough idea of cost. Then, if you say no to his proposal, he turns on the doleful look and says "But I've filled in the form now; I thought that was what you wanted."
So you feel rotten. It works often enough. Funny how hard it is to say a happy "no", just like that.
Just as if there was some sort of spell at work.
And it's no good saying "Oh, that's silly. Anyone can refuse".
Try it. Try not (that's right - not) slamming the door in a salesman's face. Listen to the patter. Say no, thanks. Listen to the counter-ploy. Don't argue, discuss or explain why you should dip out on the bargain of the century. It's your choice. Keep saying no - with the door open - until they run out of steam and go away.
It's an interesting exercise in recognising magic for what it is, and making the first tiny move towards living beyond the wretched business.
Trouble is - mostly we want to be pressured. We want to be under the influence of somebody. We can pass the buck. Claim we're not responsible for what we do. We don't have to think.
Try telling God that. See what he says.
Like - there's a favourite little phrase we keep hearing from people who aren't all that happy with the church they're in, but aren't about to quit it. "Oh, I know this is where God wants me to be", say they. And they reckon that's unanswerable.
There's a simple test to determine whether or not that kind of person is slap-bang in the middle of Dad's will, or whether they're under some kind of spell...
If God wants you in that situation - and if you're living in all the light you've got - then you'll be up on your hind legs causing all manner of disturbance at any old time. Won't matter if it gives offence, or 'spoils the atmosphere'. You'll be accountable to the King, and will have an awful lot of malpractice to point out.
(Elders and ministers and things'll just love you, eh.)
But if you mostly sit quietly - perhaps have a bit of a niggle now and then, but usually Support the Cause - then it's the magic influence in action in your life.
* * *
HOW IT WORKS
There's a dumb situation going on in England at the moment. Perhaps you know the House Church Movement has been broadly divided into two streams, one with Gerald Coates up front, the other with Bryn Jones. (We've met both: they're good value, despite being British.)
Now Gerald is a laid-back kind of bloke, quite relaxed about things like cinema and alcohol in moderation. Bryn takes a crisper, more disciplined approach.
The dumb thing is that, often enough, people join one or t'other bunch, because they want the freedom to do this and that - or to be banned from doing this or that. "Oh, our group believes..."or "our group doesn't..."
Like we said. Dumb.
We were at a wedding a while ago. Nice one, a good mix of saints and sinners. After the reception, a whole swag of us went back to one of the parents' homes. Some gathered around the piano in the lounge for a time of praise and worship.
Others gravitated to the crates of DB in the garage.
Eileen and me, we filled our glasses, grasped a bottle each in our free hand...
And made our laden way through to where "He is Lord" was being sung for the fifth time.
Perhaps we are the original party poopers. At our entrance, the singing died away and a whole lot of eyes focussed with dismay on what we were carrying.
"Don't stop," we said cheerily. Then, realising some kind of explanation was necessary to restart get the music, we added:"After all, if it's okay for us to drink, it's okay to praise God while we do so."
But - it's not the done thing. Is it?
Mind you, there's an awful lot of folk who get annoyed if you won't come under the spell that they or their system are trying to hang on you.
Right. Oh, we're answerable to our Dad and to each other.
But God's not stodgy and narrow-minded, and neither are we. He's in the freedom business. With no nasty side effects. Too many people think God designed their religious system. They accept all the restrictions and regulations and magical influences as if they'd brought 'em down from Sinai personally. Never bothering to get to know him. Finding out what he really wants.
So - religion (like our computer with the wrong operating system up its jumper) doesn't really work. Oh, maybe it does just a bit. Maybe with a lot of effort. ("We'll really have to pray hard about this.""If all of you were really committed, really involved...")
How many religious systems lean heavily on the doom 'n' gloom of the Old Covenant, only garnished with the teachings of Paul ("...which the dodgier types twist to their own ruin..." said one of his pals in 2 Peter 3. 15 - 16); or rely on non-stop togetherness, prosperity and music...
Somehow none of this has much to do with the mixture of plain and fantastic, everyday and supernatural that Jesus taught - rather clearly - in the gospels.
The simple fact is that we have been programmed with an operating system that can never, ever work in the way the Maker and the handbook clearly intend. Instead, we fall for almost any magical pressures that happen to be around. Rather as if we had a spiritual form of AIDS.
Which is sad, because it can be fatal.
And it's also sad, because we've a job to do, and mostly we're struggling against a whole mess of contradictory pressures.
Look at the way Christians have fallen for Amway.
What's wrong with Amway?
Frankly - the methods that get used by folk in it.
Ring-ring. (Our phone, if you didn't know.)
Voice at other end: "George! Are you and Eileen going to be in this afternoon?"
We were. Why?
"Look - I've got a really interesting business proposition to put to you. It's... Oh, there's someone at the door. Can't talk now. See you after lunch."
Question: who was at the door?
Answer: nobody. It was nothing more than an attention- getting device, a cliff-hanger. To whet our curiosity.
That's a fairly standard approach (someone at the door and all) for recruiting an Amway dealer. There are other ways. Even other, similar organisations.
Forget the fact that the products are pretty pricey.
It's the whipped-up pentecostal-type enthusiasm, the motivational tapes, the blatant appeals to greed, the regular gosh-how're-we-all-doing-folks get-togethers and the high- pressure hype to recruit new dealers that rings kind of hollow.
No, there's nothing wrong with selling stuff. There's not too much wrong with the person who recruited you getting a percentage based on your earnings.
But there's an awful lot that's wrong in a magical sense with a system that keeps cranking the enthusiasm handle and never allows breathing space to re-think things. Count the cost, as someone once said.
You know, even the government recognise magical influences for what they are. And allow you several days to back out of certain types of agreements you've signed with door-to-door pedlars.
It never hurts to stop and think. Maybe you'll miss out on some super-duper business deal that would have netted you a fortune. But a bit of thought, and a few calculations on the back of an envelope, are worth a tonne of wow, phew and whoopee from someone who stands to make untold bucks out of you.
It never hurts, either, to remember that one of the prime producers of motivational tapes behind Amway is none other than Robert Schuller. Doesn't ring bells?
He built - or, more accurately, masterminded the fundraising of nearly $20,000,000 needed back in 1980 for California's "Crystal Cathedral". The prestigious magazine NZ Architect (no.6, 1983, pp 33 - 40) ran a feature that rightly acknowledged the triumph of its design - as architecture. Then the article said:
"This cathedral of the Religious Right must be suspect for its impersonal distortion of the Christian message, and because it directs the mind away from the contemporary notion of what the servant church could, and should be. What might have been called God's glass-house, can clearly now be seen as Schuller's dream-star. This is an image of television power and media domination - a veritable Monument to Mammon."
Not to God.
It's always worth checking on the top brass of any system.
And what if you're the can't-make-up-your-mind sort? Is it better to plunge in rather than risk a bum decision? Look - if you're a ditherer - give yourself a set time to dither in. In that time, actually think. Most ditherers like to be forced to act. So they're prime targets for magic.
Allow yourself space (limited space) to think. Think. Then act on what you, your spouse and Dad agree on. "I'll put off making any kind of a decision until Wednesday", style of thing.It's the safest way.
But let's get serious about magic.
Because we're not just trying to put you on your guard against TV commercials and travelling salesmen. Magic is a whole lot bigger than that. More evil. Getting into an area where Satan - himself, not some dismal little demon - can carefully, thoughtfully manipulate individuals, groups, nations.
Here's how magic works. Don't be scared - it won't bite you or anything. And it'll help you recognise it when you get got at.
Ever heard of Pavlov's dribbling dogs?
It was a simple experiment. This guy rang a little bell when he fed his dogs. That's all.
He rang the bell at every mealtime until those dogs had made a mental link between ding-dong and tucker.
Then, one day, he just rang the bell.
Nary a bone in sight. Wasn't even chow time for chows.
And those dogs drooled and slobbered like they were munching prime steak. The bell "was" food.
Magic works on symbolism in the same way.
The ritual magician gives an object a meaning. That doll is such-and-such a person. He concentrates on it. Thinks, meditates on the identity of doll and person. So eventually, whenever he notices the doll, he doesn't for an instant think of a cheap, massproduced plastic article - it's the person, their character and behaviour, that springs unprompted to mind.
It takes time. Concentration. But it lays the basis for a whole lot of manipulation.
First - whittle the thing to be charged with magic power down to its barest essentials. Then concentrate on making the symbolic link, putting all the details back into the symbol, but this time in mental, psychic form.
Then comes the use of spells, where words are treated in precisely the same way. Intense concentration gives them a vast depth of meaning, very different from their superficial, everyday use.
Combine the symbolic objects with symbolic words, add gestures that again carry a wealth of meaning, cover the magician with special garments so that his normal identity is hidden and overshadowed by other, stranger powers...
And you have an age-old practice of magic that is as ancient as the tower of Babel. Which was a fine art in the courts of the Pharaohs. Which the Babylonians knew and understood. Which has never been lost, although it may not currently be fashionable to talk about it.
Even now it doesn't take much effort to find bookshops that sell utterly sober, non-sensational books on ritual magic, together with the necessary equipment. And for the determined, there are those who will teach the techniques.
Why are we going into such detail?
Simply because the church uses magic.
The church uses illegal methods to bind her followers; to influence those who come within her ambit.
Once, Jesus had a meal - the Passover meal - with his friends. At the close, he passed round bread and wine, saying that the sharing and receiving of one loaf and one cup signified his body and his blood. And said 'do this in my memory'.
This? Either the Passover. Or any meal with believers.
So an ordinary meal has been whittled down to its utterly minimal elements - a wafer or crumb of bread; a sip of wine or grape juice. It has been wrenched away from a home setting and placed in a set-apart building at a set-apart time with a suitably reverent atmosphere and selected people to perform stylised functions.
Add "suitable" clothing, robes even, and uplifting music - and you have a powerfully charged ritual that accomplishes much... In an illegal fashion.
It binds together illegally. Religion means "to bind".
It makes it hard for ordinary, everyday people to bring 'breaking bread' back to just a meal with friends who know the King.
* * *
One spin-off from the charismatic renewal has meant that many protestant believers have found themselves to be observers at a Catholic Mass.
The experience is rather overwhelming, with a seductiveness about it all.
But to see the ceremony in its true colours - go to a Requiem Mass. The communion service performed at a funeral.
We watched one from beginning to end at a marae when the family of a friend of ours insisted on such a send-off.
The setting up of the apparatus for the ritual was frankly similar to that of a conjurer preparing his act. And although the mourners were invited to take communion, it was made plain that the rite was for the benefit of the deceased. To release his soul from bondage and send it to paradise.
No, not superstitious nonsense from some Middle Ages storybook. Twentieth century religious magic.
Know that in such services every gesture, every tinkle of the little bell, every garment worn - has a specific meaning.
By whose authority is such a non-scriptural act performed? Certainly not the King's authority, because it has distorted beyond all recognition the simple meal which he had with a few down-to-earth friends.
Perhaps the authority comes from Satan.
Maybe the people that outsiders know as "Exclusive Brethren" have got a little bit of insight into having meals together. No, we're not saying they've achieved the right sort of balance on the matter. That's their problem. But how about taking meals with friends a bit more seriously.
Not serious-serious. Serious in the sense of expecting that sort of time together to be really worthwhile.
As if the King were there.
Which doesn't mean you can't enjoy an uproarious, hilarious, earthy time. Just that you'll find the get-together won't be a non-event. There'll be life in it.
Not just with "like-minded" types, either. Make heathens welcome. Just avoid folk you've got real hangups with. They'll give you ulcers. Either put things right with 'em or keep away.
And there are other ceremonies..
Take baptism. Why the compulsion to 'build a baptistery' in a church building? This isn't Iceland, for goodness' sake. Why can't believers go public? There are crowded beaches. Even better - there are crowded swimming pools.
We'll tell you why not... The magic wouldn't work in that kind of setting. Much less the magic of a few drops of holy water sprinkled over a baby.
And religion needs magic to make its power grow. Religion needs apparatus and strange clothing and ceremonial.
Has it ever struck you as odd that a denomination which has rejected both baptism and communion (on the ground that nobody could agree how to do them "properly") has plunged into a welter of symbolism with expensive, meaningful clothing, strange ceremonies of dedication under the flag (...sometimes with the baby actually wrapped in the flag...) And although the Salvation Army officially plays it down, it is a slur, a slight on someone's "spirituality" if they won't "wear the uniform".
* * *
Jesus put an end to magic.
Judaism had been a purely Jewish thing. Doing symbolically, powerfully, legally what was still to be fulfilled in the future. The fact that it was only a localised operating system was pointed out several times by Jesus.
"Didn't David take the shew-bread - which is only lawfully eaten by priests - when he and his companions were hungry?" And Jesus compressed the entire law into a couple of commandments - to the annoyance of the Pharisees, who preferred to breed laws like rabbits.
But with the tearing of the Temple veil, Judaism was ended. The use of symbolism and robes and ritual was over. Anything resembling magic was illegal.
And man has worked hard at making a magic-based Christian religion to replace the kingdom of God.
There is only one thing to do with magic. Two things maybe.
Destroy it utterly. Walk away from it.
Trouble is - there is a feeling that it gives... One that is addicting. People from all kinds of religious backgrounds have tried to tell us what their form of communion means to them.
And how the way other denominations do it just isn't the same.
Which suggests that the basis for most religious magic is an equal mix of nostalgia and sentimentality.
Okay; nostalgia and sentimentality aren't bad feelings - as long as you can recognise them for what they are. But can you?
My Salvation Army childhood means that whenever the drums go bang and the cymbals clang and the horns go blaze away (as the old hymn so beautifully puts it), I can automatically fall in and do a Victory March with the best of them. Love it!
But it's nostalgia. Sentimentality. Not the presence of God.
And we need to be thoroughly grounded in recognising his presence and his voice, so that we can also recognise what is simply sensuous.
Although the presence of God can involve intense emotion, emotion is only a by-product. Never an 'aid to worship'. In fact, mostly, relationship with God is refreshingly normal. Real. Brisk, plain and wholesome. Quietly matter-of-fact.
This may be awfully disappointing to the bug-eyed and breathless, the hysterical and tearful, the vague, cryptic and allusive. Dad made this planet Earth, and wants our feet firmly down on it, so that when he does anything that'll blow our mind, he won't blow our brains out at the same time.
In case you haven't noticed, life is starting to warm up.
And although we've been fairly general in these first few pages, that's just laying a foundation or three for some specifics up ahead.
Biggies, would you believe.
So if you aren't aware that there are all kinds of influences that smoothly, strongly direct you in the way that is commercially or politically or socially the in-thing, then you're going to fall with a ker-ploosh into the greatest magical operating system of all time.
We exaggerate not.
* * *
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