Fiber-Optic Fortunetelling

Fortunetelling has gone high-tech. It used to be that fortunetellers plied their trade in carnival tents, using tea leaves and tarot cards. But the tools of the trade have been supplanted by fiber optics and 900 telephone numbers. Thanks to modern technology, psychics are now available 24 hours a day at the touch of a button—and Americans are pushing that button by the millions in a desperate search for solace and security. Fiber-optic fortunetelling has become so hot that calls to psychics now constitute one third of all 900 numbers called. The Psychic Friends Network alone receives some 10,000 calls a day. And thanks to television infomercials hosted by celebrities, psychics has become downright respectable. As an article in the Los Angeles Times put it, television infomercials have taken psychics "out of the shadowy, hocus-pocus world of the supernatural and [marketed] them as friendly advisers on a… brightly lit talk show." Who’s dialing those numbers? People in trouble. Women call to ask if they are pregnant. Men call from jail, asking for legal advice. In one case, a woman called to ask if her husband would beat her—ironically, for running up a huge bill calling psychics. For some, the calls become an addiction. A paralegal secretary named Christine Winer was sent to prison after embezzling $30,000 to pay for calls to Psychic Friends. Worried about her future, Winer says she became "obsessed" with the need for psychic advice. In other words, people are calling to get some sense of control and predictability in lives of insecurity and heartache. Arthur Warwich, a University of Maryland psychiatrist, explains that people "have a tremendous need for certainty, reassurance, and spiritual connection." And an article in the Detroit News says people are "starved for mystical direction in their lives." How typical of our times that people seek to satisfy the deep hunger of the soul in all the wrong places. But Scripture warns against searching for spiritual guidance apart from the power of God. The Bible specifically commands us not to consult those who practice witchcraft or interpret omens—sooth-sayers and spiritualists who conjure spells or attempt to call up the dead. Why does Scripture forbid these activities? Because they represent attempts to have autonomy from God by knowing or controlling the future outside of Him. Humans are temporal beings; our lives are fleeting, insecure, unpredictable, and transient. One of our most basic human needs is to have some sense of the eternal. That’s something God wants us to find through the church, the sacraments, and through a personal relationship with Him. If we try to obtain a sense of security from spiritual sources outside of God, we may even end up in touch with the demonic realm. If you know someone who reaches out to a cellular crystal ball for spiritual advice, help him understand how much this practice offends God. Then invite him your church. Help him to get in touch with the eternal reality the only way-the biblical way: through prayer, the sacraments, and by delving into the Word of God. Fortunetelling may indeed have gone high-tech, but the solution for spiritual seekers is unchanging and eternal: to reach out only to the Living God.


Chuck Colson



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