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Book Jacket

0764201352
Trade Paperback
224 pages
Sep 2005
Bethany House

Protecting Your Teen from Today's Witchcraft: A Parent's Guide to Confronting Wicca and the Occult

by Steve Russo

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt

Excerpt:

INTRODUCTION

WELL, YOU GOT THE COURAGE to pick up this book, and now you're probably wondering what you got yourself into--let alone if you should tell your friends that you're reading a book on witchcraft.

Before we go any further, let me assure you that this book is not meant to scare or alarm you. It's designed to inform and equip you to deal with a very serious issue affecting teens today. The world of witchcraft is a difficult one to navigate through and understand. Parents want practical answers on how to deal with this issue in a sane, reasonable way. And that's why I've written this book.

Parenting has never been tougher or more confusing. And life for our kids is about the same. Every generation has its struggles. There are issues, temptations, and pain that kids must learn to handle. However, it's different for today's teens. The intensity of these struggles is greater and the pace of life is much faster than it's ever been. There's more coming at teens today than any previous generation.

Among other things, they are a generation in search of answers to the spiritual dimension of life. This search can take on many different forms and take them in many different directions--including witchcraft--as they look for power to face the difficult issues of life. About now you may be saying, "Wait a minute, my child would never get involved with witchcraft." Don't be so sure. The influence of witchcraft can be found in many places and forms--everything from comic books to prime-time television. Kids can even learn more about Wicca by taking classes on the Internet. You may also be saying, "What's so bad about Wicca? After all, isn't it about taking care of the environment and helping people to have a sense of direction and belonging? That can't be all bad." Some of the things Wicca stands for are positive. But it's the focus and methodology that we have to be concerned about.

Let's face it: Kids are curious and want to discover things for themselves. You can't force them to believe in God, or anything else, for that matter. They must come to conclusions about life and spirituality on their own. Our job as parents is not only to protect them but also to help guide them in the right direction. We need to provide them with practical resources and a safe place where they can express their thoughts and feelings. Remember, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason: We need to listen twice as much as talk--especially with teenagers!

Read this book with the intention of discussing it with your kids. And you may want to get them a copy of my companion book--What's the Deal With Wicca?--so they can read about it for themselves. Notice I've used the word discuss, not interrogate. And don't panic if you learn something that surprises you in your discussions. Be thankful that your son or daughter is running the risk of sharing their feelings with you. Be patient, understanding, and willing to take the time necessary to work through these issues together. You'll be glad you did!

One final thought. Maybe you, too, have been searching for answers to life in the spiritual dimension and have found yourself turning to witchcraft. I invite you to read this book with an open mind and examine the information provided here. There are real spiritual answers to the challenges of life. Look at the evidence in these pages and see if it makes sense. You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Chapter One

GUESS WHO'S INTO THE CRAFT?

RIGHT NOW YOU MAY BE saying, "Wait a minute, Steve, my son or daughter would never get involved with witchcraft. After all, we go to church every Sunday, and they attend the youth group activities." Don't be so sure. Take a look at some of these stories.

I'd just finished speaking at my second high school assembly for the day, and as usual, there were a lot of students wanting to talk with me. When I talked about choices, the questions and comments from the students usually covered a variety of topics including suicide, pain, divorce, gangs, and witchcraft. This school was no different.

I noticed three students hanging back, several steps away from the rest of the crowd that was around me. Once everybody else left, they approached me.

"Thanks, Steve, for your presentation," said Emily, the short blond girl.

"Yeah," said Andrew, "we really liked what you said."

Melissa, the tall girl with short brown hair, said, "And we liked your drum playing, too. It was awesome."

"But there's one thing we want to talk with you about," said Emily. "You're not exactly right about Wicca. It's not just about power."

"Yeah," the other two added. "You're a cool guy, but we wanna help you get your facts right about Wicca."

"You gotta know this one thing, Steve," Emily went on. "We all used to be Christians, but we got turned off to being involved in church. We never found anyone there who could explain what they believed and why."

"Yeah," added Melissa, "and everyone seemed powerless, like they were already living in some kind of defeat."

"That's not how I want to spend the rest of my time on planet Earth," said Andrew.

Then, almost in unison, they said, "With Wicca we found answers and power."

They told me about all the other benefits that Wicca offers besides power, including a sense of belonging, concern for the environment, tolerance for everyone, and their beliefs--plus the ability to pick and choose what you want to believe. All three claimed to have tried Christianity but found Wicca much more appealing. Andrew said, "With Wicca you don't have to deal with hell and sin and all that other stuff they talk about in church." Melissa added, "Yeah, Steve, I just don't believe the stuff Christians teach about how you get one shot at life and then you have to go to hell. I like Wicca 'cuz of reincarnation. You can just keep trying to get it (life) right without having to worry about hell." "With Wicca, you have the freedom to believe what you want to without any restrictions," said Emily. "I can make up my own belief system that appeals to me without anyone else telling me what I have to believe."

The bell rang, and just before they headed back to class, I told them how much I appreciated their honesty and wished that we could've had more time to discuss their Wiccan beliefs. "We do, too," they responded.

Emily, Andrew, and Melissa are convinced that they found what they needed in life when they discovered Wicca.

I meet lots of teens like Emily, Andrew, and Melissa as I travel across North America. People who are sincerely trying to make sense out of life and find a way to make it work. They want a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and they want real answers to the difficult issues of life. Let's face it, there's so much stuff coming at you in the world today--families falling apart, threats of terrorism, natural disasters, unrealistic expectations from friends--and that's just the beginning of what you deal with at school, at home, and at work every day.

Many teens are looking for answers in the supernatural. They want to tap in to the source of ultimate power to change their lives--to feel special and get the relationships they want and need. Some want power to get vengeance on people who've hurt them. Pop culture's filled with allusions to witchcraft and the occult as being the source for power and all the answers to the issues of life. The fastest-growing religion today among high school and college students is Wicca. Also known as the practice of folk magick or the magick of the people, it's a contemporary pagan religion with spiritual roots in the earliest expressions of the worship of nature. For people like Emily, Melissa, and Andrew, Wicca seems to be the ticket that gave them a form of spirituality that would provide a sense of belonging, as well as some control over their own overwhelming life circumstances. The craft, as it is frequently called, also gave them the chance to create their own religion, complete with everything in spirituality that was convenient and appealed to them--including designing their own deities.

I wish I could say that I disagree with everything Melissa, Emily, and Andrew talked about, but unfortunately I can't. It's hard today to find people who attend a Christian church and can tell you why they believe in Jesus and what the Bible actually teaches. And it's true, there are a lot of people who call themselves Christians who are living defeated lives. But maybe we need to look further than just the organized Christian church for answers as to why these things happen. Because God didn't want us to be robots, He gave us the freedom of choice. This includes what we decide about Jesus and whether we decide to live by what the Bible teaches. God's power is real and it's unlimited. We must choose to either tap in to it or keep trying to do things on our own, in our own way, and with our own strength.

There are questions that keep bugging me about kids like Melissa, Emily, and Andrew. For example:

What truths about the Christian faith have they not truly seen and known?

Did they honestly compare the teachings of Jesus to what they learned from Wicca?

Do they understand how unique the Bible is? Have they seen the historical, scientific, and archaeological evidence for its accuracy? Or how about the ancient manuscript support? Sometimes the combination of life circumstances and curiosity causes us to do some exploring in the supernatural realm. Take Alexis, for example. Even though she attended church every week, she and a friend got involved with Wicca. Alexis was struggling with not having a father in her life. He'd abandoned her when she was only a year old, but it was becoming a bigger deal in her life the older she got. Alexis felt church had become routine and boring, and the youth leaders didn't seem all that concerned about the trauma she was going through. Plus, most of the kids in the youth group didn't act like they cared much about her anyway. She just didn't seem to fit in.

So Alexis and her friend checked out some books on Wicca from the library at school and became fascinated with everything they were reading. They thought it was cool so they started buying books and collecting other things related to the practice of Wicca. The two girls grew increasingly curious about whether the spells and other stuff they were reading about really worked. Alexis and her friend started experimenting and got scared by the things that were happening. Alexis became so fearful that she began carrying a knife to school, which resulted in her getting suspended. That was it--the end of the line for her. Alexis and her friend threw all the books and stuff they had been collecting in the trash. And even though she asked God to forgive her for what she'd done, Alexis still feels guilty.

A lot of kids today feel like the Christian church isn't relevant to their daily lives. One of the problems is that they've bought into a religious experience rather than establishing a personal relationship with God. It's awesome when you can grasp the concept of having an actual relationship with the living God--the God of all creation. That is one of the things that sets Christianity apart from any other religion.

Also, a lot of teens fail to really understand the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. They want answers about life and they want to be challenged to make a difference in their world--but they can't seem to find this in their churches. Some teens even question if God really cares about them and what's going on in their life. They want to know where God was when their mother died of cancer or why their father lost his job and abandoned the family. One girl asked me where God was when she was gang-raped. Disappointment with God is real for a lot of kids today. Obviously, pain and suffering are part of life--but it's still hard to handle. And in some situations, we may never know the reason why we experience some of the things that we do in life.

In other situations, leaders in the church have failed miserably at making the Christian faith clear and understandable to kids in need of answers for the problems they're dealing with. The lack of practically applying the Bible to everyday life has caused many kids to search elsewhere, including witchcraft, for help and hope. Unfortunately, some leaders and Bible teachers seem to be answering all the questions that no one's asking.

Wicca's got a very positive image in our society today. It's no longer some ridiculed set of beliefs based on superstition. Instead, it's become a mainstream religious system that many see as a valid alternative to an "outdated Christian faith." There are at least five major ways in which Wicca differs from Christianity and other religions:

worship of the goddess and god;

reverence for the earth;

acceptance of magick;

acceptance of reincarnation;

lack of proselytizing activities (trying to get someone to change their religious beliefs).1 Wicca (or witchcraft) is popping up everywhere. You can find its influence in PC games, movies, music, prime-time TV shows, cartoons, and books. The number of Web sites on Wicca is growing, and there are even classes being offered online and in some public libraries. So why is Wicca so popular, especially with teens?

For many, Wicca's promise of personal power over others and the ability to control your own life seems irresistible--even among some teens currently involved in the church. Wicca is admired for its sensitivity to the environment and is seen as the female-friendly religion in comparison to Christianity's supposedly male-dominated hierarchical system. And because Christianity is perceived as being judgmental and intolerant in today's society, it's easy to see Wicca's huge appeal. Wiccans feel like they belong without the baggage of having to look, walk, or talk a certain way. Plus, because Wicca rejects moral absolutes, a person's natural rebellious nature is appealed to. And it offers the chance to develop a personal self-styled religion. The bottom line is that Wicca offers its followers the ability to set things right on their own without having to rely on a God who doesn't seem to answer their prayers anyway.

So who's right? Emily, Andrew, and Melissa? Did Alexis and her friend somehow miss the point of Wicca and quit too soon? Does Christianity really offer the answers and power we need and want? How do we make sense out of life?

Wicca and Christianity both can't be right. Ultimately, you and your teen will have to decide which pathway is the right one for you to pursue. But remember to choose wisely and make sure that you honestly compare what Jesus teaches and what Wicca teaches. It's not good enough to just be sincere in your beliefs. Sincerity won't get you very far when it comes to your eternal destiny or making life work on planet Earth. Neither will it give you the power for living in a stress-filled, confusing world. Maybe you know others who are into Wicca and you're trying to understand and help them. This book will help you to discover the truth about Wicca and its exploding popularity.

Examine the information in this book carefully. Don't be afraid to ask yourself and your teen the tough questions. Think about it logically. In the end, I hope that you'll discover the answers you're looking for to make sense out of this issue, as well as life and eternity.