First Commandment: You Shall Not Have False Gods/Morality/My Faith/Teen Faith

#SorryCharlie: A Response to the Charlie Charlie Challenge

I spent hours in middle school playing MASH with my girlfriends.

Do you all still do that? It’s a simple enough game to play: just write MASH at the top of a piece of paper, then give yourself (or have friends give you) a couple of options under different categories (job, city to live in, spouse, number of kids, pets, car, etc. etc.) and close your eyes while a friend starts making tally marks on the paper. You shout “stop!” when you think he or she has tallied enough, and the total number of marks becomes the key to eliminating your choices, until one option is left in each category. And then BAM! You know your future!

…except that I don’t work as an interior designer in Miami, I’m not married to Zach Morris from Saved By the Bell, we don’t have fourteen children, nor do we live in a shack with our pet pony. *sigh*

Silly middle school stuff, right? But playing MASH, or with Ouija boards, or with Charlie, isn’t as harmless at it seems.


If you haven’t heard about the Charlie Charlie Challenge by now, I’ll catch you up quickly. Apparently, the idea is that you draw a grid on a piece of paper, write yeses and nos on the squares, cross some pencils over it, and chant something to get a Mexican demon named Charlie to move the pencils in order to answer your questions about the future.

Aside from logical things like gravity and physics interfering, what could go wrong?

Well… a lot.

First of all, the demonic and occult are real things – not simply the stuff of Hollywood movies, not stories told around campfires to scare us, and certainly not toys. As real as our God is, so is His enemy. And the evil one would love nothing more than to pull us away from the God who loves us so much. If you haven’t gone there, DON’T. There’s nothing good that will come from it.

“Playing” with such things is incredibly foolish and dangerous. I know it’s cliché to say that curiosity killed the cat – but it’s a cliché for a reason. Because it’s true. And if you’re not careful, curiosity will kill you, too. By engaging with the occult and forces of darkness, you are opening a door to things you do not want to open.

Furthermore, getting involved in such things is a big violation of the First Commandment – you shall have no other gods besides Him. Check the Catechism –

All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to “unveil” the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone. (CCC 2116)

Even if you think it’s all a big joke and “don’t really believe in that stuff,” actions speak louder than words. And your actions have just said that you put more faith in some number two pencils than you do in the God who created the universe. If this (or Ouija boards, etc.) is something you’ve participated in, then you need to get to the Confessional, ASAP. There’s nothing to be afraid of, there – the Lord is waiting with open arms to heal and restore what’s broken in all of us.

And be not afraid – although there is a battle and evil is at hand, there’s an army to fight alongside you. Specifically, St. Michael the Archangel – his prayer is one of my favorites for protection against the evil one. With saints and angels on our side, there’s no need to fear. Yes, the battle is real, but we know who wins. And He’s on our side.


I understand the temptation, I do. We are all curious about our future, have all wondered how it’s all going to turn out, and can all feel directionless at times. How many times have we thought that life would just be so much easier if we could just get some clear-cut, yes or no answers? Just tell us the plan, God, and we’re in!

Here’s the deal: the way pencils move on a piece of paper isn’t going to tell you any more about the future than a game of MASH or a Magic 8 ball. Those are childish things, and it’s time to put them away (1 Corinthians 13:11). If you really want to know what’s what, just listen to your Mother:

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” [And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:1-5).

Do whatever He tells you. Over and over in the scriptures, God promises us that He has a plan for our lives (Isaiah 64:3), that He knows our future (Jeremiah 29:11), that He will provide (Philippians 4:19). And so, to live our lives according to those purposes, all we have to do is whatever He tells us to do.

Instead of wasting your time with Charlie (or Ouija boards, or whatever trend comes next), spend your time with Christ. Put those pencils to good use by marking up your Bible and writing in your journal. He is speaking to you, there. Have you ever tried listening? It might seem challenging at first, but with time and a little practice, I promise that you will be able to hear Him speaking to you, there.

Know that whatever your future holds, He promises that it’s in His hands (Isaiah 49:16). And that beats getting your palm read, every time.

About the Author

Rachel Leininger

I work for a retreat ministry called the REAP Team, where it's my full-time job to talk about sex, love, dating, and chastity (which can sometimes lead to some awesomely awkward moments). I love being Catholic, my bearded husband, watching movies, and browsing antique malls. The only thing I have against winter is the fact that there's no baseball. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @raleininger

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