Is Nothing Sacred Anymore?

halloween-1998.jpgThere’s a bowl nearly full of Halloween candy on our kitchen counter. It’s not supposed to be that way, you know. But last night, we had a grand total of 10 trick-or-treaters knock on our front door and accost us for candy. What a bummer.

When we moved into this neighborhood 11 years ago, our street was the place to be on Halloween night. The sidewalks were packed with moms and dads escorting cute little ghouls and goblins from one house to another. It was one of the few times when everybody was out–a block party if there ever was one–and the spirit of community mingled freely with the other shades and shadows conjured up on those crisp, moonlit fall nights.

But no more.

So what’s changed? Probably the main reason for the death of Halloween is that parents have been scared witless. Not by ghosts and vampires, mind you, but by the specter of their little Johnny or Jane receiving a poisoned piece of candy. That, plus a heaping helping of southern fried evangelical guilt (i.e. Halloween is the Devil’s Day).

Along that line, it seemed that every church within a 5-mile radius of my house (and there are dozens) was competing with its neighbor to offer a bigger and better alternative, “Fall Festival” last night. I drove by several whose parking lots were filled with fun, inflatable slides and moon bounces and large signs proclaiming a “safe, fun and spiritual” alternative. If you’re wondering, like me, what happened to all the trick-or-treaters, then you need look no further.

Safe, fun and spiritual. So, it’s not enough for churches to engage in evangelism, mission work, marriage and family seminars, divorce recovery workshops, Upward Basketball, weight control classes (What Would Jesus Eat?), soccer camps, Pilates for Christ and Mothers Day Out. Now they have to go after Halloween too?

I know I’m swimming against the tide here, and yes, I know that current fads and trends have their conveniences and advantages. But as a guy who was raised in the 60s and whose Mom fed him Coke in his bottle and allowed him to walk up to a perfect stranger (egads!)and demand a piece of candy on Halloween night, I find myself looking askance at today’s version of postmodern, educated, enlightened, overly-cautious, sissified parents.

I’ve come to the conclusion that a life that is completely sanitized and safe, that is devoid of all danger and risk, is, at the end of the day, a boring life.

And I find myself asking this question: Is nothing sacred anymore?

  1. Hal

    It is ashamed we can’t celebrate Haloween without being castigated as devil worshipers. My church has a big Fall festival too, but I think it is possible to celebrate Haloween in the neighborhood (and be in the world), without a genuflection to Satan (being of the world). But, that’s just my humble opinion.

  2. Mike the Eyeguy

    Hal, my church has a Fall Festival too, but they always have it before Halloween so as not to interfere with the more traditional activity of trick-or-treating.

    Let’s hear it for the Mayfair Church of Christ–distinctly Christian, yet pagan enough to remain a little interesting!

    I think you have a good point. I find myself wondering if we’re not promoting an evangelical “ghetto” mentality even as we endeavor to make all things safe and sanitized.

  3. Scott

    Great thoughts Mike. I’m happy to report that here in the lovely town of Waco, trick or treating is alive and well. I took my girls out for an hour and a half last night. We raked it in and never once felt the desire to sacrifice a goat.

  4. Mike the Eyeguy

    Scott, that’s great news! I knew I could count on you, you old pagan.

  5. Tarwater

    The best thing I saw was two teenage boys riding through the neighborhood in a golf cart, bolting from the cart to the front door and back and then flying off to the next participating house. They could cover a whole street in minutes.

  6. JRB

    Amen and amen. My wife and I are convinced of a truth these last years, that fear is the opposite of faith, not paganism. We know mounds of Christians who are scared out of their wits about “the world,” “the media,” public education, art, music , crime, poor people, black people, Disney, gay people, people with disabilities and liberals. Fear is the greatest obstacle to discipleship right now for affluent American Christians, so we retreat to our church campuses for insulation against the scariness.

    I, too, am grateful for a church who is willing to get outside its own property.

    Our little girls were a fairy and baby Harry Potter last night, triple paganism!

  7. Mike the Eyeguy


    If those guys had stopped by my house, I would have emptied the bowl for them.


    “Do not be afraid” is one of the most oft repeated phrases in the Bible.

    We say we believe it, but if so, why are we so afraid to show it?

  8. Scott

    Cause we are at war–terrorists, activists judges, paris hilton, and walmart are trying to strip us of our very faith.

    Wait a minute, this isn’t my blog!

    Sorry, disregard this comment 😀

  9. Mike the Eyeguy

    That one barely made it through moderation, pal!

    For some reason (not sure why) anytime you comment it always gets held up in moderation. Smart little booger, that WordPress. 🙂

    You mean you don’t think Walmart is on the “axis of evil” list?

    That’s hardly the party line. Something tells me that you have a wife who will brook no such foolishness.

  10. Scott Freeman

    I’m not the biggest wal-mart fan. But they are not the epitome of evil: Harry Potter is. :O

    My wife is nowhere near the extremist I am.

    Now, let’s see. What gets me hung up in moderation? Was it the phrase Paris Hilton?
    Or strip?
    Was it the combination of desire and goat in the first post?
    I’m stumped.
    No way this one gets through.

  11. Mike the Eyeguy

    You’re right, it didn’t. But don’t feel like you’re being singled out or anything. My friend Hal is a LTC in the Army Reserve and is slightly right of you on the political spectrum and his comments get hung up too. Maybe WP moderation is set up to be truly “moderate.”

    I’m very disappointed that no one has chastised me for the very politically incorrect Halloween photo from 1998. A cat burglar (Number Two), a Confederate rebel (Number One) and a ninja assassin (Number Three).

    There is no shortage of testosterone in my house.

  12. Hal

    I have received orders transfering me to the retired reserves on 1 Jan 07. I will soon be a retired LTC. O happy day.

    I don’t know Scott, but I would consider myself aligned with Reagan and Goldwater – nowhere near anyone in the current Congress. I don’t know where that places me with respect to Scott.

    Now let’s see how long I get held up in moderation now that I’ve mentioned Goldwater and Reagan, twice in the same transmission!

  13. Nancy

    Preach it, brother. We had two sets of trick or treaters.


  14. Brady

    Not a single trick or treater at our house this year. Don’t even know how to say it in French. Of course, our neighbors don’t talk a lot anyway, so it’s not unusual that they are not out and about.

    I like the idea of churches doing stuff on Halloween. But I don’t like the competition, or the extravaganza and having to better than the church next door. Too much pressure, not the right focus, I guess.

  15. Mike the Eyeguy


    Once again, you got patted down more than most. I just can’t figure it out. Congrats on the orders and your fine career.


    Sorry to hear it. I’m almost finished with your book BTW (and loving it!).

    Everyone click here and get a copy of Nancy’s book! You won’t regret it.


    The competition is fierce around here. Ridiculous really. You’re not missing much by opting out of that, I can assure you.

  16. Mike the Eyeguy

    Did anyone else have a Mom who fed him/her Coke in a bottle or was it just me?

    Somehow, I don’t think she got that from Dr. Spock.

  17. Nancy

    No, but My mom gave me Jack Daniels mixed with a LITTLE honey for coughs.

    (Cough. Cough.)

  18. Mike the Eyeguy

    Ah yes, a little Jack Daniels–good for what ails ya!

    I can go one louder. I recall one time my Dad had a pretty bad head cold. My grandfather showed up with a mason jar filled with a clear liquid that looked like water. But it wasn’t.

    Moonshine in mason jars and Coke in baby bottles–staples of life in Southwest Virginia.

  19. Julie

    I always thought it strange that, in an effort to avoid “paganism”, churches would hold “harvest” or “fall” festivals at Halloween.

    What’s more pagan than celebrating the harvest?

    I guess asking for candy is.

    Me? I vote for sugar. Who cares about the harvest?

  20. Mike the Eyeguy

    The Druids cared very deeply about the harvest and so should we.

    Oh, wait. I think I just made your point.

    Which is a very good one by the way.

  21. jonny1


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