Is Halloween a scary occasion to you? There’s plenty to be frightened of at this time of the year, but none of it relates to ghosts or goblins. A passing contemplation of the amount of chemicals the average child ingests through the various candies he or she consumes should bring more than a passing chill. But when you’re warned that Halloween is Satan’s holiday, be skeptical.
Surfing the radio dial on a recent morning, I was treated to a full explanation of the reasons why Halloween should be avoided by all people of faith. Halloween, the speaker soberly intoned, is the time that pagans, those who abide in spiritual darkness, believe that the veil between the dead and the living is at its thinnest. (Those who have been exposed to some of the recent zombie movies and TV shows know that we want that veil to be nice and thick.) Further, the speaker cautioned, the symbols of the season are thoroughly demonic. The jack-o-lantern, for example, is the representation of a damned soul. And if that isn’t enough, the evil of witches is at its most powerful on Halloween. Then there’s the black cat, that symbol of bad luck who acts in conjunction with witches. The concluding admonition instructed listeners to beware; Halloween disguises itself as harmless fun but in reality it’s a highway to hell.
There’s only one thing the presenter of this dire warning left out. American culture has time and again proven its ability to take the biggest perceived threats to its routine and melt them down into baby food. Back in the ‘60’s TV host Ed Sullivan kicked the Doors off of his show for daring to sing the words of “Light My Fire” unabridged. Sullivan had wanted them to change “girl, we couldn’t get much higher.” He was afraid of the new psychedelic drug culture and its destabilizing influence. But within a short time, the words were changed in a much bigger way to “Come on Buick, light my fire” for a TV commercial. So much for destabilization.
That’s what America does. It homogenizes everything and everyone. Resistance is futile. Heroes become lunch boxes. Big, scary grizzlies are melted down into teddy bears. Monsters are reduced to action figures. President Obama shortly after he took office was reduced to a chia figurine. So the next time you encounter the fear mongers of Halloween, pull your skepticism out of the trick-or-treat bag for immediate application.