So, it’s Halloween again. This is Parker’s((my son)) favorite holiday, He really gets into it, decorating the house, coming up with ever-more elaborate costumes and watching Halloween-related movies (think more Corpse Bride and less Friday the 13th). I, however, am not such a fan. Why, you ask? Because a big part of the whole Halloween ethos is fright and, nothing of Halloween can hold a candle to the charismatic craziness of my youth
When I was a kid, WFMY-TV used to run what they called “The Halloween Spook-tacular” on Halloween night. They would show old horror movies like Frankenstein, The Wolfman, Dracula, etc. back to back on Halloween night starting at 8 PM. The first couple of years, I had problems going to sleep after watching them. Then, I got drug into the all that “spirit-filled”((there really wasn’t much that was spiritual about the bunch I was involved with)) weirdness and monster movies from the 1930’s quickly became laughable.
That’s not to say there weren’t things that frigthened me, though. Just the thought of The Exorcist scared the shit out of me because, in my 12-year-old brain, demon-possession was a real possibility. Don’t look at me like that, if you heard with all the tales of possession and exorcism that I did at that impressionable age, you’d have reacted the same way. Though I didn’t actually watch the movie until I was an adult((I wasn’t allowed. Hey, my parents had some limits)), I saw clips and heard people talking about it and, I kid you not, I spent many a sleepless night worried that Legion((the only demon name I knew back then)) or one of his buddies would jump into my body and make me do awful things.
That wasn’t the only thing that terrified me, though; Ouija boards were also the stuff of nightmares. That’s right, the mere mention of a toy from the 1890’s frightened me beyond belief. Why would I be so afraid Parker Brother’s famous board game? Because one of the many bat-shit crazy speakers I heard growing up told harrowing tales about them, that’s why. He claimed Ouija boards were gateways to possession and inhabited by demons. He said that, if you had one, you needed to destroy it the minute you got home and the only way to do so was to burn it. But, he cautioned, you needed to be careful when you did because the satanic presence would not “go gentle into that good night”. He claimed that one person threw theirs into a fire and a ten foot long tongue of flame came out after them. Another, he said, let out a blood-curdling scream as it burned. To this day, Ouija boards freak me out. So much so that I can’t even watch the trailer for that new movie based on them.
I do not understand the steady diet of fear that some Christians seem to relish. As you listen to it, you begin to wonder if they really believe their own press that Our God is an awesome God because it sounds like Satan has a definite edge in the competition for our souls. One of the selling points of following Jesus is to find peace and freedom from fear and, I’ve got to say, I never found either when I believed all this crap.
Of course, the people who spew this bullshit are using an age-old tool for evangelism: scare tactics; i.e, if I can’t use reason to convince you to believe in my god, I’ll scare you into it. Here’s the thing about that, if the god you’re presenting is so shitty that you have to scare me into believing in him, that god is not worth my time((Yes, I used lower-case letters on purpose there)). If you want me to believe, don’t tell about a god that uses humans as pawns in a nip-and-tuck battle with evil, tell me about one who is loving and forgiving. Because, that’s a God I want to believe in.