In conjunction with the movie “Ouija”, which I reviewed for Aleteia this week, those movie promotion/prank people are at it again…
Truth be told, that gag is probably more fun than the entire movie it’s shilling for. Okay, that’s not quite fair. “Ouija” is actually a pretty decent horror film for younger teens who haven’t seen a lot of these kind of flicks or possibly those who don’t like a lot scary in their scary movies. Plus, given what transpires in the film, none of us religious types have to worry about the film encouraging the use of Ouija boards.
That probably comes as a disappointment to Toy “R” Us. On their website, they describe the Ouijas they sell as follows:
“Enter the world of the mysterious and mystifying with the Ouija board! You've got questions and the spirit world has answers - and the uncanny Ouija board is your way to get them! What do you want to know? Ask your question with a friend and the planchette that comes with the board, but be patient and concentrate because the spirits can't be rushed. Handle the Ouija board with respect and it won't disappoint you!”
Ah, communing with the dark forces. That’s just good clean fun, right?
The “talking board,” as it was originally called, was first released in 1891 by The Kennard Novelty Company to cash in on the growing interest in spiritualism. It wasn’t necessarily considered a children’s game until 1966 when Parkers Brothers bought the patent and began worldwide distribution of what has become popularly known as the Ouija Board.
One of the the first thing people usually question when it comes to things like Ouija boards is, “Does it really work?” It’s an honest question. For the Christian, though, the short answer to that question is, “It doesn’t really matter if it works or not.” After all, the consistent teaching of the Church (and Judaism before it) is that any dabbling in the occult is to be avoided. Part of the reason for that, of course, is that we believe there are evil forces working against us, and any fooling around with the occult provides those forces an inroad into your soul. You know, kind of like what happens in “Ouija,” just without all the special effects.
But there’s another reason as well, one that has nothing to do with demons. The Catechism explains that "all practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others — even if this were for the sake of restoring their health — are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion". What the Church recognizes is that stuff like Ouija boards, the casting of spells, fortune telling, use of charms, and other such practices are really just attempts at imposing your will on the world (and therefore the people) around you.
In contrast, when Christians pray for something (healing, guidance, maybe even love) we’re not trying to manipulate some supernatural force into giving us what we want (not if we’re praying correctly, anyway). We’re asking for God’s will to be done, and if what we desire happens to coincide with God’s will, that’s great. If it doesn’t coincide then we hope God teaches us why it doesn’t and changes our disposition so that we want what He wants. We leave the future to God.