As a child, I loved to color. Of course, I grew up in the 70s without iPads or video games, so coloring books and comics were my escapes. There was nothing like opening a new box of crayons and seeing all the sharp tips, lined up perfectly, just waiting to become something awesome on the page. Cartoons were only on TV on Saturday mornings, so a Winnie the Pooh coloring book on a Tuesday was as close as I got. I spent many happy, quiet, peaceful hours just sitting and coloring.
Long before the introduction of adult coloring books, I kept a coloring book or two on the shelf. I have also given them as gifts to adult friends who I thought could use a little peaceful coloring time with a brand new box of crayons. It has always been therapeutic, some might even call it meditative. I never saw that as a bad thing.
Now that the idea of adults coloring has caught on, the market is flooded with adult coloring books. They range from doodles, to cats, to flowers, to geometric forms, and one of the more popular themes, mandalas. I am thrilled that the rest of the world has finally caught on to what I have always known: coloring is not just for children! But just when the world is getting on board with my love of coloring, someone has to go and try to ruin it.
I remember when the Disney movie, Pocahontas came out in the theaters and there were those wouldn’t let their children go see it because they believed it would draw their children into worshiping nature. They believed that the characters worshiped the natural world, and therefore, sitting in a theater watching this movie would cause the children to do the same. First of all, the characters weren’t worshiping the trees and rocks, they were respecting them, appreciating them. There is a major difference. Secondly, if watching a movie makes you do everything in it, then why haven’t those same people ever protested Friday the 13th or Halloween? And lastly, if I have not taught my child a faith strong enough to resist the evil pull of a Disney movie, then I have not taught them a very strong faith.
Then, the Harry Potter books were attacked for promoting witchcraft and wizardry. Many parents refused to allow their children to read what are probably the most influential fictional books in the latter part of the 20th century because they were afraid it would cause their children to want to be witches. Those children never got to cheer for the boy that lived, and learn that evil can be defeated by watching the defeat of Voldemort.
The latest argument in how satan the devil is attempting to sneak into our lives comes in the form of coloring mandalas. While it is true that the designs figure prominently in many eastern religions, they can also be found in many designs used in the Christian faith, things like the Celtic cross, the rosary, and stained glass windows. The argument against them seems to be that tracing the designs lulls the would-be artist into a meditative trance which allows satan to enter into their relaxed mind. I just can’t get behind the theology that peaceful meditation leads to the invitation of satan into our world. It just doesn’t make Biblical or rational sense.
10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
In fact, it seems to me that God is saying he is exalted when we are still and quiet and allow him to speak to us.
5 For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
We gain strength and hope from sitting in silence and can face the difficulties of this world better when we are at peace with God.
I could go on and on. The Bible is very clear that prayer, quiet, and meditation are not only positive things, but are required if we are to gain the direction and guidance that comes from being at peace with the Creator.
And the really big problem I have with this constant attack on movies, and books, and meditation as avenues for satan to enter the world is that satan is already here. All around us. And not in the form of some red guy with a tail and horns. Satan is not some mythical character who lurks around every corner waiting for one of these “gateways” which conservative Christians seem to think he needs to enter the earth. There is no gateway of coloring books or Harry Potter stories which allows evil to enter the world. Evil exists in all of us in the form of free human will.
13 But wicked people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived.
3 But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Evil exists in this world in the form of human free will. Satan enters this world every time one of us is cruel or unforgiving to another. Every child that goes hungry, every person who is attacked for who they are, every needless death and hateful heart is how satan enters this world. Coloring books are not a gateway for satan.
Coloring books are not our problem; our problem is human beings who promote fear and hate. We allow the evil one, satan, all the bad of this world to exist when we fail to love one another.
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me, you who will receive terrible things. Go into the unending fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink. 43 I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’ 45 Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’ 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment. But the righteous ones will go into eternal life.”
It seems so clear to me. Evil is what exists when we turn against each other, when we fail to honor the Creator, when we use human free will to bring pain and fail to use it to bring love, it is then that satan enters our world.
So please, sit quietly and wait for the divine peace which can only come from being touched by the Creator. Color in a book, do some yoga, or hold a rosary to get your spirit to that restful place. We fight the evil of the world when we open ourselves to the love of God.