We are now in the low forties in our countdown to the end of the second millennium and looking back over the history of mankind there have been countless kings that have come and gone with the emphasis on the latter. No matter how powerful they were at the time from King Tut to King David and his son King Solomon; From King Nebuchadnezzar to Alexander the Great; from King Herod of Jerusalem to the Caesars; from Constantine to Charlemagne; from the legendary King Arthur to the meddling French Kings, save for Saint Louis IX, to King Henry VIII who over-exaggerated his own importance and influence for he, just like King Victor Emmanuel I who captured the Papal States and brought the Vatican to its knees during the Sovereign Reign of Pope Pius IX, were merely human and very, very fallible. Even Elvis was called "king" and where is he now? Yes, kings come and go and after 2000 only One still reigns and He reigns supreme!
We're speaking of course of Jesus Christ, King of kings. He has remained the only constant among all royalty because, as He says in John 18: 36, "My kingdom is not of this world" as Pat Ludwa wrote about in Thursday's issue. From the gifts of the Three Kings at Bethlehem to the triumphant entry into Jerusalem to the mocking of Him as King of the Jews, Christ was always considered a King. And well He should for none of the earthly kings can provide a kingdom today. Only Our Lord has the words of eternal life, of an everlasting kingdom. No one else can even barely measure up. And yet, sadly, so many kings who overestimated their own worth and power are today reaping their just rewards in not recognizing the True King, going so far as to persecute His subjects. Woe be unto them!
That is why it's important, on the final Solemnity of Christ the King in this millennium on Sunday, to reconsecrate our unyielding loyalty and obedience to the only King Who can help us. Yet even with all this evidence, democracy has muscled in today and demoted and denigrated the concept of an eternal monarchy. His loyal subjects are subjected to ridicule and suppressed from expressing fidelity to Him in places like China, Africa and, yes, even in America where the King's rules are not allowed to be posted. We offer as exhibit "A" the recent court decisions that bar the Ten Commandments from being posted on outfield fences at high school baseball games, praying to their King at high school football games, or exhibiting the list of Commandments in schools because it might be too traumatic and offend someone! No wonder our public school system is in such disarray!
But our school system no longer is the chief educator. That has been usurped by the media, television, radio, and the movies. An example of this is the wrestling phenomena where there are no holds-barred when it comes to morality and violence and the mesmerizing lure of TV programs from lurid sit-coms to shock-talk shows. This is not lost on the movie magnates who concoct campaigns to suck suckers in. And we're all suckers in this respect for if we put down one dime toward these we've been had. We admit we're as guilty as the next person. We imagine there are numerous parents out there, like us, who are so frustrated with the pull of their children's peers and the overwhelming thrust to disobey authority and parents by what they see on film. Separating virtual from reality has become an invisible line. Kids today not only can't see the difference, but don't want to. There's an old song that goes, "How you going to keep them down on the farm, after they've seen Paree?" Let's face it, we've all spoiled our kids because we love them. We can plead ignorance before the King, but we'll still have to answer for going along with the flow without standing up and speaking out, without exercising more "tough love" when it was needed most...by saying "No" and "Enough!" more often.
We bring this up because millions of parents are being barraged by their own kids this week to take them to see "Pokemon: The First Movie" or buy the next card or give-away at Burger King or some other tie-in promotion. Figures don't lie and the Japanese creation has already raked in more than fifty million dollars nationwide in just one week for the movie! On the surface it would seem a harmless cartoon. After all, how many of us went bonkers over Davy Crockett, or the yo-yo craze, even hula-hoops, slinkies, any Disney movie, the Pac Man craze, Cabbage Patch dolls, the Power Rangers, beanie babies, Barney, the Teletubbies, and now Pokemon? The difference with the final entry into this maddening mix is the subliminal message being sent. This creation derives its name from "pocket monster" with the emphasis on monster; as in monster sales that foment greed among the youth who clamor for more, more, more. They have to collect them all. It is the mob-mentality and keeping-up-with-the-Jones wrapped together. They talk about alcohol or tobacco being addictive, but if you have boys between six and twelve, you'll truly see addiction! And it's all orchestrated by the promoters of this craze, the same organizers who, with a bit of research, reveal ulterior motives and methods. You see, they also own the majority of Dungeons & Dragons games and merchandize. We've already seen the new-age danger of the latter, leading even to death in some instances. On top of this, the characters possess magic powers that reak of new-ageism and the occult. The whole message is humanism and that through these "things" we can attain happiness and defeat evil. One wonders if Pokemon didn't have deep pockets for those ill-informed judges who ruled against the Ten Commandments for there are several of those God-given rules that would offend, and rightfully so, the promoters of Pokemon. One is "Thou shalt not have false gods before Me" and another is "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods." Check in on a covey of boys trading and conniving and you'll see what we mean. They can be just that - mean! A few years ago Pokemon had to be taken off the air in Japan for a few weeks because one episode was so mesmerizing that collectively kids not only were getting headaches from the pop wizardry of special effects conveyed through the tube, but acting more aggressive than ever. But this is exactly what the promoters of Pokemon want - wild crazed kids who will cajole and intimidate their parents into buying more, and more, and still more. There is no end in sight.
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen spoke about greed in attaining happiness, writing "The secret of a happy life is the moderation of our pleasures in exchange for an increase of joy. But several contemporary practices make this difficult for us. One of these is the type of merchandizing which tries to increase our desires in order that we shall buy more goods. Allied with this is the 'spoiled child' psychology of modern man, which tells him that he is entitled to get anything he wants, that the world owes everyone the satisfaction of his whims." We know Archbishop Sheen was a visionary for Catholicism and modern society and perhaps he was given a glimpse of 1999 and this ridiculous phenomena that has consumed kids and haunted parents today. It's time to stand up, fellow parents, and say "No! No more!" Though we have relented more often than not, we've always told our sons that we will always strive to provide everything that they need, but not everything they want!
The problem with today's generation is that they "expect" things without the concept of earning them. Our modern technology that has made us soft and lazy lends to this malaise. Unless they still live on a farm or in the country, kids no longer see their parents working by the sweat of their brow. Everything is 'too convenient' today for all of us. Walking to the store is practically a thing of the past and if we don't find a parking place within 100 feet of the entrance to the store, we're upset and convey that attitude to others we come in contact with through our demeanor in the store. But how many, with little kids, have caved to their temper tantrums for fear of being further embarassed in the middle of the store? Don't all raise your hands at once!
We have become subjects to the new king - merchandizing and it overwhelms us. Two-thirds of America is in debt. They're in debt because of spending beyond their means. They're in debt because they didn't have their priorities in order; worried over their financial woes while continuing to spend. They have not realized that their King will take care of them as He said in Matthew 10: 30-31, "But as for you, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows." Finally Our Lord follows this with the charge to be loyal to their King, as He asserts in Matthew 11: 32-33: "Therefore, everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge him before My Father in Heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I in turn will disown him before My Father in Heaven." It's the only way to get out of debt. Hear ye! Hear ye! The King has spoken! All hear and heed the King!