Happy Halloween

“I like this amusing bit from Southern Baptist theologian Russell Moore” is not a phrase that often appears on this blog, but I like this amusing bit from Southern Baptist theologian Russell Moore:

An evangelical is a fundamentalist whose kids dress up for Halloween.

A conservative evangelical is a fundamentalist whose kids dress up for the church’s “Fall Festival.” …

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Moore’s colleague, SBC Archbishop Al Mohler, isn’t amused by Halloween at all. His meandering post fretting about the holiday is most notable for this kind of rhetoric:

But television’s It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (which debuted in 1966) has given way to Hollywood’s “Halloween” series and the rise of violent “slasher” films. Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff have been replaced by Michael Myers and Freddy Kruger.

I swear, these culture-warriors haven’t bothered updating their pop-culture references in decades.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Pat Robertson isn’t joking around about Halloween either:

In a special segment ahead of Halloween this year, Robertson warned viewers that even though scary movies are “fake,” they are still “demonic” and will definitely “haunt you,” then stressed that committing a sin, like watching one, is actually just like playing Russian Roulette … with your soul.

“You don’t want to open yourself up to demonic influence,” he said, answering a viewer’s question about scary movies on television. “You begin to be entranced by it. You begin to come in to it. The next thing you know, you’re going one step beyond. The devil is very subtle and very sly.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Tom Doyle on Emmett Coyne’s The Theology of Fear:

The Church is not about those who control it nor is it about sustaining a power and money-hungry monarchy. The monarchical system has created a toxic dependence between its laws, structures, rituals and customs and the millions of believers. They have become emotionally dependent on this theology of fear and must find radical liberation to have a true experience of Christianity. Coyne’s book should be the opening of the door to spiritual freedom for the many who have been controlled by the Church-driven yet totally inauthentic visions of an angry, vengeful and fear-filled God. The author’s countless examples of this theology of fear, where it comes from, how it retains power and how it devours the souls of good people are all solidly grounded in history and theology. This is not an emotional rant. It is a solid, factual description of what is, in the hope that by seeing what is will lead to freedom from fear and an experience of the Church as it should be and as it is described in the life of Christ found in the gospels.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

I really, really, REALLY wanted something unexplainable to happen. I’m a little bit Scully and a little bit Mulder like that. The ghost hunter groups were very nice and friendly, and most of the people who showed up really didn’t know what to expect. We were split off into two groups and out group wandered off to one of the small conference rooms to begin our “hunt.”

— Skepchick, “A Skeptic on a Ghost Hunt

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

• Happy Halloween … from Jack Chick (HAW HAW HAW!).

“They do not, however, have much love in general for anybody who can claim Luther as their spiritual ancestor. …”

• Happy Halloween from the Feminist Agenda.

Peter Montgomery reviews the anti-Halloween options for conservative Christians, from Jesusween to the Hell House Experience to Reformation Day parties.

• “Under FDR, government stepped in and changed peoples’ lives, not just the big stuff like protecting your money and providing jobs, but even expressing concern for families because back then, people understood that the future of our country depended on the future of our children.”

• “The Hallowe’en of Ray Bradbury’s childhood memories is almost as foreign to us now as the Christmas of Dickens’ memories.”

• Barry Levinson set out to make a documentary about the frightening destruction of the Chesapeake Bay. Once he realized that a documentary film might not be enough of a wake-up call, he switched gears, presenting the same story as “a low-budget gross-out in the vein of recent horror hits like the Paranormal Activity franchise.” Maybe the most effective way to tell a scary story is to tell a scary story.

• “Which kids will steal your Halloween candy? There’s a study for that.”

• Richard Beck rounds up his ghost-, vampire- and monster-related posts. Quite a collection.

• Christine Hoff Kraemer on “Reclaiming Halloween’s religious roots.”

• “The Great Thing about Doctor Who Halloween Costumes.”

• “Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

""Now please look away so I can go back to scanning the horizon for roadkill ..."

LBCF, No. 181: ‘Meet the Steeles’
"One of my coworkers in the work campaign has threatened to play Karl Marksman, a ..."

LBCF, No. 181: ‘Meet the Steeles’
"Well, the CoS one that's already filled up was one that had coworker gamers come ..."

LBCF, No. 181: ‘Meet the Steeles’
"Sounds like you are thinking about it well. It does sound plausible, and a scam ..."

LBCF, No. 181: ‘Meet the Steeles’

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • MaryKaye

    I ran that trick-or-treat experiment, also in Seattle.  It’s true that most kids do not cheat much, but we eventually hit one who took, not only all the candy, but the bowl as well!  (Grumble grumble.)

  • ReverendRef

    From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties,
    And things that go bump in the night
     Good Lord, deliver us!

    Happy Hallow’een.

    I’m thinking that in the next year or so we’re going to throw a Hallow’een party at the church in response to those awful, sanitized “harvest festivals.”

  • D9000

    You know, we haven’t had any kids at the door on Hallowe’en ever since the year Mrs D handed out fruit instead of sweeties …

  • You begin to be entranced by it. You begin to come in to it. The next thing you know, you’re going one step beyond. 

    Says the man who scares people with threats of eternal torture, then seduces them into his secret club.

  • MaryKaye

     Someone should point Mohler at Snopes.  He talks about poison-candy scares at Halloween as if they were something other than urban-legend panics, but they are not.  Poisoning of kids by strangers is essentially unheard of.  Occasionally relatives poison children and blame Halloween, but that’s it.

    I was pissed off when I learned this:  all those years of having to have my candy inspected, and throwing away apples and cookies, all for nothing!  (Sure, it *could* happen, but we don’t inspect Christmas cookies just in case….)

  • Eric B

    “Haw haw haw” made me go “haw haw haw.”

  • ReverendRef

     all those years of having to have my candy inspected,

    The point of the candy inspection is to make sure the adults get some of the goods.

    Actually, what we did with our kid, was to go through it and she got to keep X number of candy in relation to her age, but she got to choose which ones to keep and which to toss.  The candy in the “toss” pile went to the Great Pumpkin in exchange for other stuff — fun socks, a movie, a book, etc.

    Mom and dad got candy, the kid got stuff, and we avoided the dentist.

  • I was always allowed to eat all the candy I wanted for Halloween, and I always got LOTS AND LOTS of candy. I’ve never had a cavity, and I learned how to delay gratification so I’d still have mini-Three Musketeers bars after Thanksgiving.

  • It would only require minimum of self awareness for fundamentalists to recognize that, as much as they cling to the ideas of Satan and Hell, fear is as much a part of their beliefs as the godless heathens running around tonight in costume.  

    The difference, of course, is the rest of us only peddle in made-up scares one day of the year—and then, mostly for fun.

  • ReverendRef

    and I learned how to delay gratification so I’d still have mini-Three Musketeers bars after Thanksgiving.

    I was a big brother, so anything I could do to annoy the younger sisters I was all for.  I took that delayed gratification thing to new heights as I would have Easter candy late into the summer, Halloween candy until Christmas, and Christmas candy until Easter.  And it was all for the express purpose of charging my sisters a nickel or dime per piece.

    It’s too bad that business acumen didn’t stay with me into adulthood — I might have been able to get out of seminary debt free.

  • Vermic

    Ah yes, the dark times when 1966’s It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown gave way to 1963’s Blood Feast.

  • I think one of fundamentalists’ core problems, if not the core problem, is that they don’t understand made-up stuff. Fantasy books and games, Halloween, etc. — all this stuff must be demonic, because stories are really truly real. There is no such thing as a story as the rest of us think of stories to them. Their imaginations have been utterly crushed, instead of being nurtured as they should be.

    They still have imaginations — they can’t help it, imagination is one of the most important parts of the human condition. And, having been repressed, their imaginations are angry. Since they’ve been taught that imagination is bad and wrong, if they even understand it’s possible in the first place, they fear it. But this fear gives them a loophole to keep imagining. 

  • Magic_Cracker

    We hand out boxes of raisins — to the children who are too cool to where costumes.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Indeed, the terror that is The Great Pumpkin tore a hole in the time barrier.

  • Jessica_R

    Happy Halloween ghouls and goblins, it might be old hat to post the complete Thriller video -but I will because I love it, pleasant hauntings! 


  • VMink

    Snopes has been officially denied as any sort of reliable source of information and urban legend debunking because it is funded by George Soros, billionaire socialist.

    Because Fox news being funded by Rupert Murdoch, billionaire carpetbagger, is more reliable. *eyeroll*

  • And then, those of us raised in the sphere of wonder, with fantasy books and Halloween and Dungeons and Dragons, are so familiar with the workings of imagination that we see the obvious fiction underlying much of the Bible; then, we say as much, they call us demon possessed, and never the twain shall meet.

  • fnarf

    I keep waiting for someone to ask Pat Robertson to his face about the demonic implications of going into business with Charles Taylor, the Butcher of Liberia, and using church money to fund his gold and diamond mining enterprises in central Africa, and his use of slavery and mass murder in those operations. Robertson continues to support Taylor even after his conviction in The Hague. God only knows how many millions Robertson earned from this abuse of church funds. 

    Nobody ever asks him about this, though. They just sit and watch him talk on TV like he was a celebrity and a man of God instead of a man with bloody hands.

  • Worthless Beast

    I remember having a pastor at my old church whose son called Halloween “Satan’s Birthday.”  When I was a part of that church, I was *glad* that I’d only gotten into the religion-thing *after* my childhood.   Sad.

    As it is, I’m celebrating “Electricity Appreciation Day” after the events of the last couple of days and am kind of sad not to see any trick-or-treaters down the street out the window.  I did go see a Tim Burton film last night, though, if that counts.

  • Jessica_R

    I think too that fundies are taught that death is terrifying, it’s not only the end, it’s the end where if you chose wrong in life-well into the lake of fire you go. The idea of death being part of the life cycle, and dead not our enemies but fellow travelers, well that sits very wrong with the mindset of hierarchy and reward and punishment fundies set their lives to. 

  • Amaryllis

    Mr. Macklin takes his knife
    And carves the yellow pumpkin face:
    Three holes bring eyes and nose to life,
    The mouth has thirteen teeth in place.
    Then Mr. Macklin just for fun
    Transfers the corn-cob pipe from his
    Wry mouth to Jack’s, and everyone
    Dies laughing! O what fun it is
    Till Mr. Macklin draws the shade
    And lights the candle in Jack’s skull.
    Then all the inside dark is made
    As spooky and as horrorful
    As Halloween, and creepy crawl
    The shadows on the tool-house floor,
    With Jack’s face dancing on the wall.
    O Mr. Macklin! where’s the door?

    – David McCord

    Happy Halloween!

  • I think one of fundamentalists’ core problems, if not the core problem, is that they don’t understand made-up stuff. …Their imaginations have been utterly crushed, instead of being nurtured as they should be.

    I think this is close to right, but not quite right.

    Fundamentalists divide their understanding into a few distinct categories. There are Things that are True because of Proof and Things that are True because of Faith

    Fire is hot, water is wet, and the airspeed of an unladen European Swallow is about 24 miles/hour; all of these things are true because of Proof. Some Fundamentalists get a bit picky about what really constitutes ‘proof’. You see it a lot in Young Earth Creationism and anti-Evolution screeds. (“no one has ever observed one creature evolving into another!”) Nevertheless, Fundamentalists accept that there are things that are True because of Proof. 

    At the same time, there is the other category of Things that are True because of Faith.  Obviously, the existence of God, the inerrant nature of the Bible, and the divinity of Christ are all examples of this category. So are the Protestant Work Ethic, the argument that human life (and all associated rights) starts at conception, and the notion that homosexual marriage will be the downfall of society. These are things which are True not because of Proof, but because we Believe them to be. We hold the truthfulness of these things in our hearts and minds, and know them to be true. 

    Fiction is problematic, because it occupies the same mental space as this particular kind of “faith”. Fiction is a thing that doesn’t exist in the world of Proof or Evidence, but only in our belief in it. Harry Potter doesn’t exist unless we’re reading about him or thinking about him. To consider the world of Harry Potter or Freddy Kruger is to take our attention away from Jesus and Supply-Side Economics. 

  • MaryKaye

    I can take no moral or ethical or theological lesson from the experience I’m going to describe, but it had a profound impact on me none the less:

    We held a Pagan ritual for the Day of the Dead in which the celebrants visited the Underworld to speak with Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Dead in Sumerian mythology.  In the end the celebrants went out of the sanctuary singing, back to the world of the living.  They left me, playing the role of Ereshkigal, all alone in the darkened church.

    Only, I did not perceive myself as alone, but as surrounded by a silent multitude of the dead.  I will never know how long it was until they came back and lit candles and did the necessary devocations.  It felt as though it could have been forever, and yet there was no sense of impatience.  It was like a glimpse through time into eternity.

    We had not planned this as part of the ritual, as it wasn’t accessible to the participants.  It just happened. It’s probably one of the two or three most powerful things that have ever happened to me in ritual.

    I am an agnostic about all theories of the afterlife.  The hallowed dead could be only reflections of something that once was and is no more, or they could be actual spirits–I don’t know how to tell.  But I do know what it would mean to be in their presence.  This is some comfort to me when I face my own death—not because I think it promises me anything in particular, but just because…I don’t know why, actually.  Because I have sat on the throne of Ereshkigal and not been afraid.  (Before and after, I had stage fright.  But not during.)

  • hidden_urchin

    Also, happy NaNoWriMo Eve everyone! Good luck to our authors!

  • I am so not ready /o

  • David Starner

     http://www.somethingpositive.net/sp10052006.shtml ff is his response to stuff like the Hell House Experience; http://www.somethingpositive.net/sp10192006.shtml is the final punchline that could in theory be skipped to.

  • Lunch Meat

    My parents didn’t believe that Halloween was demonic or anything like that, but my mom didn’t like most of it because it was too creepy and disturbing for her–anything having to do with zombies, monsters, vampires, werewolves, whatever. So we celebrated it, but we had to wear light-hearted costumes–and preferably, Bible characters. I was Ruth one year and Esther another. (No, no one got it.)

  • What I always find ironic is that Halloween comes in part from the Christian tradition of All Saints  Day (as does the Day of the Dead in part, I believe).  In contrast, “harvest festivals” have been around for much, much longer and have much more directly pagan origins.  I wonder what those churches would do if someone asked if they were celebrating Demeter?

  • In a special segment ahead of Halloween this year, Robertson warned
    viewers that even though scary movies are “fake,” they are still
    “demonic” and will definitely “haunt you,” then stressed that committing
    a sin, like watching one, is actually just like playing Russian
    Roulette … with your soul.

    Please please please tell me this ended with Pat Robertson donning a pair of sunglasses as the opening bar of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ played.


  • Fusina

     I raised the kids with three “candy feast” days. The first Saturday after Halloween, Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. Those days they got to eat all the candy they wanted. Hee, after a couple of stomach aches, they learned to portion the candy out–Yeah, I am evil Mum.

  • pharoute

    Halloween also means that All Souls Day is two days away which is when my local cathedral does a solemn mass with Mozarts Requiem. That and my mom’s birthday are pretty much the only times I get into a Catholic church anymore.

  • P J Evans

    throwing away apples and cookies

    I think the only time we threw out any Halloween goodies, it was the year someone in the neighborhood handed out dog biscuits to everyone.

    (If I did that, I have a recipe which would be edible for people too, if not very tasty. I’d probably hand out home-made teething biscuits, instead: almost the same recipe, but more flavoring.)

  • P J Evans

     We ended up with dusty black licorice sticks left in the candy bowl. (No one in the house liked them.)

  • I’m trying again this year, though every year I’ve tried in the past, I’ve actually written less than I usually do. But this time I’m attempting to entirely turn off my inner critic. It’s a first draft, I’m good at editing myself and taking editing from others, I don’t have to worry about each and every sentence, I just need to get stuff on the page. Is what I keep telling myself. 

    I’ll probably end up feeling too pressured and therefore shut down by November 6th again, though.

  • P J Evans

    with fantasy books and Halloween and Dungeons and Dragons

    I took a lot of bracelet-size light sticks to work today and put them in the kitchen with a sign reading ‘Grue-B-Gone Hand Lights’. I don’t think most people got it, but then most people at work are younger than I am.

    (Last year I went to work as a redshirt, complete with a target taped to the back of the shirt.)

  • Yeah, that’s one of my favorite SP storylines.

    SP is very interesting to me. It started out as yet another ultra-violent webcomic where we were supposed to think it’s funny when girls beat up boys, and it gradually changed into what it is now — my favorite webcomic. 

  •  That’s a smart idea.  Plus candy isn’t durable like a movie or book is.  (._.)b A wise idea methinks.

  • AnonymousSam

    I very much enjoyed my costume this year. Halloween is the one time of year when I can dress how I would normally dress any other day of the year, but get away with it.

  •  Dead on methinks.  This is one of the things that’s made me grateful to the late Gary Gygax* and a host of authors who, while maybe not the most skilled, were good at keeping the imagination alive and vibrant in spite of growing up fundie.

    So glad dad was too lazy to screen my novels – if only he’d known what I was reading lol (‘x’) (He was never much of a reader though; and I suppose he was grateful that I wasn’t sitting in front of the TV)

    *I started playing D&D at 15 or so, about the same time I was no longer going to church – at first I was FRIGGING TERRIFIED of it, but my friends at the time convinced me to give it a chance and… well, it was totally worth it.  I still play today (In fact I have 2 different games going on on the OOTS forums as we speak (^_^))

  • Tricksterson

    Not exactly “All Saints Day” was the attempt to Christianize Samhain

  • Tricksterson

    I’d like to know by what justification Christmas Yule is a national holiday and Halloween</s. Samhain isn't/

    You'll have to forgive me.  the season has me feeling fundapagany.

    It's a word now.

  • Tricksterson

    Damn you Discus!

    rest of statement : Samhain isn’t.  You’ll have to forgive me, the season has me feeling fundapagany.  Yes, that’s a word.  Now.

  •  When I was doing NaNo full-throttle* – the thing that helped me reach 50k the one time I managed was this:

    Do not stop writing no matter how horrible a given section of the book gets.  Just. Keep. Going.  Push push push, do not relent;  and under no circumstances be afraid to just chuck continuity if you feel like what you wrote previous to what you’re writing now is drek and you’ll need to totally redo that previous section anyway.

    I kind of think of NaNo as just laying out the bones of the story – all the rest will come after it’s over.

    That’s just how I did it anyway, can’t say it’ll work for everyone, but it helped me ( ._.)b

    *Ie: participating as per the rules, instead of just using it as an excuse to reboot my writing if it’s fallen by the wayside in the interim.

  • Vlad the Inflator http://mises.org/daily/6244/The-Economics-of-Dracula

    “Incredibly, though, there is a real but lesser-known horror story behind Dracula — a story of the long-term effects of inflationary policies and a consequent campaign of economic nationalism, rather than of a mythic, powerful undead creature: interventionism pursued terrifyingly, diligently, to its logical ends.
    The Real Dracula”

  • Kiba

    Happy Hallow’een/Blessed Samhain!

     “You don’t want to open yourself up to demonic influence,” he said, answering a viewer’s question about scary movies on television. “You begin to be entranced by it. You begin to come in to it. The next thing you know, you’re going one step beyond. The devil is very subtle and very sly.”

    You know, I’m pretty sure I can make the same argument against Pat Robertson and his ilk and come closer to the mark (no pun intended).

  • EllieMurasaki

    My mother’s parents let their kids eat all the candy they wanted on Halloween and Easter. But every year, the day after Easter and the first weekday after Halloween were dentist appointments.

  • Kiba

    One year, back in Arizona, when I was in the 3rd grade I dressed up as a polar bear for Halloween. It was a great costume that my grandmother had had made for me (being nothing but fake fur it was incredibly hot though). Anyway, my Mother decided when applying my make-up to, for some reason, give me whiskers so everyone thought I was a cat. Hearing “what an adorable little cat and vampire (my brother went as Dracula)” eventually got to me so when the next time some nice lady with a bucket of candy called me a “cute kitty” I ended up stamping my foot and yelling “I’m a polar bear, dammit!”

  • Albanaeon

    Hmm…  We currently have Earth’s Sleepiest Hero Thor conked out after much adventuring into, and I quote, “very scary places” (ie decorated places) to win much loot with his foam hammer of wacking and soft “thank you”s. 

    Happy Halloween everyone.

  • Turcano

    Also, fundies lament the commercialization and secularization of Chrismas, but Halloween is still bad, even though it’s about as commercialized as you can get, because it stems from the evil pagan festival of Sam Hane.