Mythology, literature and fantastic constructs clashing with religious symbolism, do they become immoral?

Hi

I’ve been into fantasy, art, fiction and similar things for a while now since I’ve been trying to draw, however, have found some…problem: In some of the works that I might have skimmed around, there were some depictions that, IIRC, had some similarity to things used in the Bible as symbolism of something “bad”.

For example, in some of said things, there’s stuff such as magic, “soul” usage or whatever, and some animals/creatures that, IIRC, were used in the bible as simbolisms of something really bad.
Chances are I could have been misinterpretting stuff and ended up with religious terrorism and now that’s why I kinda seem to be afraid of the chance liking goats/snakes/some mythological creatures could be the equivalent of worshipping something bad, but maybe I could ask here to be sure?

Could go with examples now:
-In the case of fiction, I could bypass Harry Potter, since it seems to have been widespread a while ago, However, could mention some videogames, for example, in some of them there’s souls, as materials for equipment, and in maaaaaany games where one can play a character that uses magic, which in some aspects can end up just looking like some form of science, but what when it’s something like Warlocks/Necromancers?
Not sure IIRC about how in the scriptures it’s mentioned that messing around with souls and magic is simply bad.

-Now, in the case of Mythology… Two words: Asian dragons. Why? They’re a bit long and not sure if they’re actually considered regal in them, Did I mention they were considered good guys/royal/nice/something?.
Meanwhile, closest thing on the religious sources? symbolism for a reeeeeally bad thing.

-OR the case that actually kinda made me ask about this anyways, I’ve been doing art stuff for a while, and wanted to see if I could join some people so I could draw for a setting with several people, problem is the setting’s about a king… Who is a snake, and there’s apparently a prophecy for that king and stuff, also not sure if it’s the story’s “good guy” as well (I mean textually, not sure if even allowed to call the character such due to those “worry traits”), it doesn’t help that the character’s called several times the title and “Serpent” to boot, so it ain’t helping me from being apparently concerned/worried/terrorized/something due to scary similarities to a religious symbolism of a REALLY evil thing.

So I wanted to ask some questions just to make sure that I at least get some of the worry off: Would it be considered an immoral act to partake in entertainment that shows any of those things?
I mean, to play any game that contain such symbolisms as usage of souls/magic/etc? Or to like any of those mythological creatures due to the religious sources’ use of them?
In that last question I would like to ask if it would be just plain wrong for me to participate in that story thing, it doesn’t seem to intentionally reference religious stuff, but would like to ask just in case given that the similarity seemed real scary…

Or the more general version of the question:
Are entertainment works that use themes and symbologies used in the scripture as bad, but that instead of using them as such, are sometimes put as neutral or even somehow “good” in-story, to be considered bad? and thus any partaking or working in such a thing considered bad too? as in, we MUST rebuke any depictions of snakes/goats/magic/etc that aren’t exposed as bad due to clashing with scriptural symbolism?

Thanks if anyone can help a bit with this, it’s kinda been nagging me for a while.

you’ve open a can of worms here…

There are two camps… with some shades of grey but not many…
One camp is going to tell you that you absolutely cannot participate in any of these types of game/activities because the content leds you … blah blah blah…
IN FACT IF YOU WILL SEARCH THIS SITE< THIS HAS BEEN ARGUED IN GREAT DEPTH…

The other camp… good harmless fun provided the individuals involved are mature enough to understand that there is a difference between reality and games/fiction.

As a teen I used to play AD&D. It was my personal choice that I played only “good” aligned and typically “Lawful” characters… even then… these are not reality.

AS for fiction… .there Tolken and Lewis and so many others that we really have no issues with that to discount fantasy fiction as immoral is a slippery slope indeed…

No, I really do not want an in-depth debate, just not up to it, besides, I’ve said above… doing a search within the threads will turn up a dozen threads already covering this topic: it’s a dead horse and beating it again instead of a search is really pointless.

As a storyteller, I can tell you this: dark, graphic, cold and evil permeate a lot of “entertainment” today. Comparing a tabletop role-playing game to what is available as an electronic game and there’s no real comparison. You pretend to be a magician or evil being, you roll to see if your spell/attack works. Most of it happens in your head. It’s like being an actor or make-believe soldier with toy guns. Online, it’s like watching a movie. Your character, along with the real you, are exposed to all kinds of symbols and ideas that may be bad for you or are bad for you. Using Christian symbolism in an irreverent way is not a good thing. The whole thing with dragons is pure mythology.

So, if it makes you uncomfortable. If it makes you think “this just isn’t right,” then find other games or something else to focus on.

Peace,
Ed

So, if it makes you uncomfortable. If it makes you think “this just isn’t right,” then find other games or something else to focus on.

It’s not that it exactly makes me uncomfortable in the sense that it might be something really bad considering they seems more like mechanics than doing anything really bad, in most games and such kinds of things magic tends to look a lot more like some sort of science with weird things.

Howver the thing that causes concern is mostly being afraid that because of those symbolisms, one is obligated to ALWAYS see snakes/dragons/magic/some-crafting-system-with-a-material-named-a-“soul” as bad and could not be allowed to use entertainment things that could have stuff that could be seen similar to those things, and one cannot work on things that could break that idea.

OK,
I know I’ll catch fire for this…
Take a deck of Tarot Cards… in and of themselves, they are nothing more nor less than a standard deck of poker cards.
Case in fact is that there are very old games that used Tarot cards as the playing card and in fact, the card games were the original basis for their construction.

Now I point to these two decks of cards… Tarot and Poker on purpose.

The Tarot cards will most likely be knee-jerk condemned by all who see them as being occult and a doorway to sin. This is because of the long tradition of using these cards as a means of divination, which is prohibited in scripture. This is despite the fact that they were intended to be used in games of chance.

Whereas most would not outright toss the poker cards into the fire as the Tarot, despite the fact that they have been used for many decades as a means of divination; however, they have a long standing tradition of being used primarily in card games.

It is only when these cards are used in a manner that is inconsistent with the faith, be it for occult or because one has a gambling addiction, that the individuals involved face the issue of sin and/or immorality. The cards and imagery are really nothing in and of themselves - only our interpretation and usage create the hazard.

SO, by extension, we move this into the realm of fiction, be it fantasy or scientific, or even historical. It is the intent of the work and the use thereof that may cause the issue of potential sin. Let us be honest, the scrupulous and Calvinist amongst us will find sin and mortal death in everything made by, touched by, used by, seen by, or heard by Man.

Frankly, do not go searching for evil in things that that do not contain over evil least you invite that very thing into your life that you seek. The devil plays in those doubts of faith.

Based on my research, Tarot Cards were and are meant for divination. I’ve seen at least a dozen different decks. In my work, at my job, that is, I’ve studied global mythology. Some of it is occult and dangerous. However, those without any background will not know.

For example, a friend introduced me to a group. They sat before a statue of Christ on one side and Buddha on the other, and chanted. I memorized the chant and checked my references and identified its origin. There was a symbol above the door. A little research revealed what it was. They were also selling tapes of Jesus speaking. These were ordinary people who had come to believe a lie.

Again, everyone, be very careful with the “entertainment” you encounter.

Peace,
Ed

Then you need to do more research… perhaps at a Library of Congress collection instead of the local public library.

On line there are dozen of reliable sites that will refute your claim.

I’m going to highlight some sections in the following text quoted from the indicated sources. The emphases placed are mine and not part of the original text. As always, I ask that you the reader click thru the link to the primary sources and read the material in context.

Lets start with, IDK, maybe a moderately reliable source:
Encyclopedia Britannica : Tarottarot, any of a set of cards used in tarot games and in fortune-telling. T**arot decks were invented in Italy in the 1430s **by adding to the existing four-suited pack a fifth suit of 21 specially illustrated cards called trionfi (“triumphs”) and an odd card called il matto (“the fool”). (The fool is not the origin of the modern joker, which was invented in the late 19th century as an unsuited jack in the game of euchre.)

The pack to which these cards were added naturally bore Italian suitmarks and belonged to an experimental period of card design when queens were often added to the series of court cards previously consisting of only a king and two male figures (see playing card)

<<<>>>>

The **adaptation **of tarots to occult and fortune-telling purposes first occurred in France about 1780.

<<<>>>>
( EB:Link to : Overview of the game play )

Of course why quibble about 350 years of history between the introduction of the cards and their subsequent re-purposing. I do think it prudent to note that playing cards had been in use for several hundred years before the introduction of the Tarot cards and its predecessors and just as humans have used chicken bones (amongst others) and tea leaves to attempt to devine the future doesn’t mean that some sooth-Sayer didn’t attempt to do so with cards as well; however, those would not have been Tarot cards!
(^_^)

Perhaps a little less reliable, yet maybe more so than wikipedia:
About.com: How Stuff Works: Tarot-card History: Are They Really That Ancient?According to Tarot historian Tom Tadfor Little,** traditional playing cards were first seen in Europe in 1375,**having been brought over from the Islamic societies where they had been used for centuries before that. **These cards were not, however, Tarot cards. **

<<<>>>>

**It wasn’t until 1440 **that the cards that were most likely the origin of Tarot cards were first mentioned. In a letter from the Duke of Milan, there was a request for several decks of “triumph” cards to be used at a special event. The letter differentiated triumph cards from regular “playing” cards.
***It does appear, however, that the first Tarot decks were created as a game. ***
ahh… then of course, one might want to completely discount this next site… they after all are only collectors and wouldn’t understand the least bit about history…
Tarot Mythology: The Surprising Origins of the World’s Most Misunderstood Cards<<<>>>>
Even the earliest known tarot decks weren’t designed with mysticism in mind; they were actually meant for playing a game similar to modern-day bridge. Wealthy families in Italy commissioned expensive, artist-made decks known as “carte da trionfi” or “cards of triumph.” <<<>>>>

Then there is this from Patheos: Part2: The Real History of Tarot
KEEP IN MIND: This is an article presented by an individual just as I present this information to you here; thus, one my do well to primary source the author’s statements. (I’ve hit the 6K limit so please goto the site)

But… of course, this is unfair of me, let me explain:
I’ve made several presentations concerning the history of playing cards, including Tarot cards as a teenager. The advantage of being a military-brat is that one often gets a chance to present the same project twice. Learning from the first presentation what is needed to “wow” and “stun” the teachers and class. I’ve made this presentation in two AP-English classes and two AP-History classes and then again in my college Rhetoric and Composition English class, a cultural anthropology course, and finally in a statistics class showing the odds of obtaining the maximum number of trumps in a single hand as based upon the rules as governed by Fédération Française de Tarot ([fftarot.fr/assets/documents/R-RO201306.pdf]PDF Current Rules of the Game - In French](http://fftarot.fr/assets/documents/R-RO201306.pdf]PDF Current Rules of the Game - In French) - thankfully by that time I was in my second year college french course and had studied the French language since the 10th grade so I could, at that time, fluently read the language. I am afraid that this evening when I pulled the page up (could not find my copy after some 20+ years… may have lost it in the fire :frowning: ) I find myself only able to read parts - how sad… all of that effort and I’ve lost part of my knowledge. I need to read more French sites!

edwest2: You will find that I rarely just post something without having my facts straight and easily at hand - it is the Chemist in me to have the data available for examination. :smiley:

I wanted to be a Chemist until God put me elsewhere.

Trust me. I know experts. Experts in things that would make the average person begin to ask questions like, “And you need to know all this, why?” I go to a site where members can name and identify all the parts of a German aircraft and arrange them correctly. They can also correctly identify the variants, sub-variants, factory conversions and field conversions of a particular aircraft. And camouflage… I don’t dare touch that one.

I write for the average person. I interact with a lot of people. I can quickly tell, just by asking a few questions, where their knowledge level is on a particular subject. On the internet, it’s a bit more difficult. So when I write, it’s based mostly on the most current “popular” knowledge of a subject. Something which I follow with a passion. Everything is about perception and degree. The mainstream media is the biggest outlet of some facts and lots of perception. The internet is more difficult. Rumors or “I heard” are the most common. These rumors are common, and the “I heards,” primarily due to the mass media and internet specialty sites. I’ve been studying the strange and unusual for a long time. So I do have a certain level of expertise.

People have short memories. And history? Why bother? They live in ‘the now,’ and they absorb information and usually don’t have the time or inclination to verify any of it. So I don’t doubt your history of Tarot cards but I’ve seen first-hand, how they are regarded by the average person: occult - or New Age - and used for divination.

Peace,
Ed :slight_smile:

I think it’s fine as long as you don’t get too caught up in the fantasy. I think any competent person can do this, so there’s no risk. Kids or mentally impaired people are another thing. They might not be old enough or capable to tell the difference. Parents (or caretakers) are tasked with making that decision. Of course, we have to obey the commandments and avoid near occasions of sin. We can’t watch anything with pornographic content. We should also understand what the intent of any piece of art is. Maybe there’s a story that is meant to draw people to Satanic worship. We definitely need to avoid those types of things.

sigh and another one escapes the dark realm of Chemistry… :smiley:

I know a few experts like that in my own field… very humbling at times… and just makes me want to stand there and watch and ask questions!

IMHO: There is no such thing.
My daughter is an average child, and yet, she can often make intuitive cognitive leaps upon topics she interested in that many would find amazing. I do not, as I live with her and often make those same leaps and have all my life.

Worse yet, I feel that in an attempt to write for the “average” we do a disservice to those that can understand at a higher level, and show disrespect to the very people we attempt to reach by not challenging them to grow and instead assume that they are incapable dolts.

I once convinced a post-doc-psychiatrist at the age of 6 that I hated my mother and wanted to glue puppies to the wall… quite funny actually… especially when the over seeing professor and I had a three hour visit… I was good at 6, not that good; however, it took him three hours to trip me up - and we both knew it when it happened.

What I am saying here, is that people will often hide their level of knowledge because we have been taught that the “Jocks” are good and the “Nerds” are bad and to think that with a short conversation one can accurately assess everyone in person is a bit… simplistic… and as for the internet… we have really no way of knowing who is at the other end of posts. We could be hold a conversation with the Holy Father himself and never know it.

and yet as you say later… the common, popular, knowledge is often wrong in either outright lies and misinformation or by omission … if we were to discuss our Catholic faith baised upon “Popular” knowledge, we Catholics would be idolatrous-cookie-worshiping-new-age-hippies with our inscence and aerobics!

as have I, going on for over some 40 years in some topics, magic and the occult having been one of them, Chemistry of course my other passion, and more recently the study of the Catholic faith… seems there were a few books missing from my earlier versions of the bible :smiley:

I love that statement.
Heard that from a student in my Analytical Chemistry Laboratory practicum that later blew the tip of one of his fingers off with a firework… yet he had a “certain level of expertise” with explosives. Thank You for the chuckle (of course it wasn’t funny at the time we went to see him afterwards. I gave him a medical excuse to make-up the labs missed over the summer… only time I’ve ever done that.

:thumbsup: It is part and parcel of the culture of death. If everything is spoon fed, disposable, and always available… why worry… take your soma like a good little boy and girl! and let the government take all the bad things away… }:wink:
Critical thinking and challenging the status-Que is one thing that must change and yet our society is hell-bent on going down this road of “the average” person. Let’s main-stream all of our special-needs kids (wither or not it is the best thing for all of them - some just simply need more help and yet others will thrive). Let us mainstream our GATE kids… don’t worry, the boredom will teach them that it’s not ok to be above average… but I digress…

Nor should you, I provided easily verifiable sources, one even peer reviewed, to provide context and validation to my prior post.

Admittedly, the use of the cards for New Age or divination is more common now than when first introduced, this we do not disagree on; however, the reason behind the history lesson was the original misinformation as this was not your original statement, your original statement was:

Which is an incorrect statement based upon what I felt was a very limited amount of study… to fail to correct this misstatement would only go to bolster your own position that the average person is unable to, or unwilling to, learn the truth and as such would mislead the average person about the original and true intent of the cards as a game of chance.

(6K limit… feel like I texting here!)

Uh… Guys, just to maker sure and take one thing out of that list, it is not a bad thing to work on a story with a king that is a snake and “part of oracle prophecy” thing who in the story is like part of the good guys then?

To Z_0101

Your assumptions are just assumptions. I’m a moderator on another message board. I’ve seen the various tools of the trade put to use. I’m currently helping to write up new rules to help avoid this kind of thing. Part of them will be based on Catholic Answers’ zero tolerance policy.

Peace,
Ed

Ed, I’ve sent you a PM
I don’t see where I’ve violated the terms of use for this site.
-z

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