“Charlie, Charlie, are you here?” One of the latest – and strangest – internet phenomena has been the Charlie Charlie Challenge: a curious game that uses something similar to a Ouija Board with yes/no answers, and two pencils to summon a demon named Charlie. Participants ask questions about the future and Charlie is said to respond with a “yes” or “no” by turning the pencil towards one of these words previously written on the paper.
Videos have gone viral around the world, en route taking in Egyptians – who have been intrigued by magic and divination since Pharaonic times. They have drawn in children, teens and adults.
What gives this “game” so much appeal? Does it really originate in South American folklore as some claim? Is it a marketing stunt for a movie, as others believe? Or is it really something very dangerous that people play with at their peril?
Egypt’s own fascination with the mysterious – magic, or heka, as they called it – pervaded every aspect of ancient Egyptian life. It was practised by priests, sorcerers, Pharaohs and some individuals and was an inseparable part of their religion.
Many believe their “fate” is predestined and this belief stirs their curiosity to know who they will marry, if they will be able to have children, if their children will have a successful life
Modern-day Egyptians continue to be intrigued by divination, using techniques such as palm reading to learn what the future might hold. Also common is coffee cup reading, where the fortune-teller, most likely a woman, “reads” the remains of your cup of thick, Turkish coffee after your drink it. This is practised among Muslims and Christians alike. Its roots, I would say, lie in Egyptians’ deep cultural belief in fate. For Muslims it is part of their religion. For Christians it is part of their culture. Many believe their “fate” is predestined and this belief stirs their curiosity to know who they will marry, if they will be able to have children, if their children will have a successful life, and so on.
While most churches clearly steer their congregations away from such practices, many Egyptians are Christians simply because they were born in Christian families. They rarely (if ever) go to church, and know very little about their faith or the danger of such practices. Many end up in despair if their “fortune” doesn’t turn out well, or if they’re promised a future that is never realised. That’s not to mention the spiritual impact of such practices!
Sadly, these practices are sometimes improperly translated into the lives of those who commit themselves to Christ. Once intrigued with the supernatural, they enter into Christianity seeking only the supernatural. Like Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:9ff), intrigued by the disciples because of their “magic”, many simply want the supernatural dimensions of Christianity. They end up with very shallow faiths that have no real foundation in the Word of God. They view the Christian life only through the lens of spiritual warfare without being equipped with spiritual warfare armour (Ephesians 6:13-17). They go along in life waiting for the next miraculous intervention by God. Many end up abandoning the faith out of despondency.
The solution? I believe it is balance. On one hand, we need to recognise the reality of the spiritual realm with its good and evil forces. On the other, we should not focus so much on this that we lose sight of how God is equipping us to fight and be salt and light to a desperate world. The spiritual battle is real, demons are real and very dangerous, and the Bible clearly states that, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). We are asked to be vigilant, certainly not to play games with demons, and to “put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, (we) may be able to stand (our) ground, and after (we) have done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).