By Jim "Rant-Man" MacQuarrie
Halloween is Good for You.
So Halloween is creeping up on us again, as it should, and once again the usual suspects are popping up with their disapproval and fear-mongering. I wrote about it before, but let's go over it again...
There are two primary groups out there that object to Halloween: People who are afraid of everything, and those who think it's against their religion. Let's look at each, and then we'll move on to the claim I make in the title, that Halloween is Good For You.
People Who Are Afraid Of Everything: You know these guys; they're the ones who keep forwarding you ridiculous e-mails about whatever the Danger of the Day happens to be. We've always had these people (the fairytale about "Chicken Little" was invented specifically to tell these people to shut the hell up) but since the advent of e-mail, they've had a worldwide audience and instantaneous dissemination of their paranoia. Sadly, due to the effect of the Gullibility Virus, they keep getting taken seriously.
Let's go over it again... Nobody is putting HIV-infected hypodermic needles in payphone coin return slots or gas pump handles. Nobody will shoot you in the head if you flash your headlights at them. Nobody is putting dangerous things like syringes or snakes in the ball-pit at McDonald's. Waterproof sunblock will not cause blindness. Statistically speaking, the world is safer now than when you were a kid. And nobody is putting poison in Halloween candy. They weren't doing it 40 years ago when I heard the stories, and they aren't doing it now.
Religious Objections to Halloween: The Jehovah's Witnesses and some other groups have always held this view, but for run-of-the-mill Christian denominations, this is a phenomenon that comes and goes. Forty years ago, there wasn't a mainstream denomination that taught on the Evils of Halloween. Nobody thought that way. It was just a fun day for kids to dress up and scare each other. So where did it start this time? I can't prove it, but my hunch is that it originated with the likes of Mike Warnke and Lauren Stratford.
If you aren't a practicing member of an Evangelical, Charismatic or Pentecostal Christian church, you've probably never heard of these two. Briefly, Mike Warnke is (or was) a christian comedian who once wrote a book ("The Satan Seller") about his previous experiences as a leader of the Church of Satan. He used to give talks at churches where he scared folks with his tales of ritual abuse, child sacrifice and other such unsavory topics. Lauren Stratford is a woman who wrote a book called "Satan's Underground" in which she told lurid stories about having been subjected to horrible abuse at the hands of her parents, whom she claimed were satanists. Warnke and Stratford both made a decent living off their appearances at churches, revival meetings, speaking engagements, appearances on Christian television, and of course book sales.
Through their publicity campaigns the church in America was fully informed about the satanic underground network of evil people abducting, raping, torturing and killing children as part of their worship of Satan. And of course these monsters considered Halloween their most sacred day of worship. Naturally any God-fearing Christian should have nothing to do with this demonic day when all sorts of evil practices are carried out.
One little problem: It never happened. Investigative journalists at Cornerstone, a now-defunct Christian magazine, looked into their claims, and they found substantial and compelling evidence to refute every claim Warnke and Stratford ever made about their backgrounds. Warnke was never a member of any Church of Satan, let alone a High Priest, and Stratford is also a fraud. They lied.
In the process of lying in order to build their careers, Warnke and Stratford succeeded in robbing an entire generation of the good clean fun of a Halloween party and trick-or-treating.
But they did more than that. They robbed a generation of a Rite of Passage.
Halloween is Good For You.
Halloween is fundamentally Christian. How, you ask? Consider this: Jesus told Peter "You are Peter, the Rock, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it."
Did you get that? The church is not supposed to retreat behind it's walls and isolate itself from the world. It's supposed to be the invading army storming the gates of Hell to set free the prisoners. It's supposed to be in the world, contending for the faith, not cowering behind its stained-glass windows and jumping at every shadow.
So what is Halloween all about? On the scariest night of the year, the night when evil runs free and monsters rule the land, innocent little children are supposed to go outside, into the darkness, face the evil, stare it down, and come back not only safe and sound, but with a sack full of treasure. They are supposed to learn about courage and victory and the importance of keeping your friends close by to watch out for each other.
These are good things. This is an illustration of the victorious Christian life, a life of overcoming fear and conquering the darkness.
A child who goes out to trick or treat without adult supervision comes back a different kid. A little stronger, a little more self-assured, a little more capable. It's a growth experience. They need it. It helps them grow up. It makes them brave. It's Good For Them.
Let them go already. Wish them good fortune and send them on their way. They will come back whole and healthy with a bag of swag.. More importantly they will come back with a skull full of good memories and some tales of adventure to share.
If you're too scared to let your kids trick-or-treat, you will miss out. You'll never see the light in their eyes as they come home full of glee and Tootsie rolls. You'll never hear "Man! That was GREAT!"
You'll rob them. And you'll rob yourself.
Open the door and shove them out. You'll thank me later.
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