It will have already ended when you read this, but another American Halloween is unfolding as I write, and apparently, it has introduced a new horror that we had totally overlooked. In addition to the fear that our ‘startle reflex’ might become apoplectic from over stimulation, or that some psychopath will put drugs in our kid’s candy, or that the suggestive costumes worn by some of them will incite an increase in neighborhood pedophilia, or that junior will discover that it wasn’t really the dog that got into his candy stash, we now have to be worried about whether our costume choices might traumatize someone who, through no fault of his or her own, is forced into visual contact with our outfit. Universities and other institutions and agencies across the fruited plain have banned certain costumes because they have been deemed ‘offensive’ to some people. Wal-Mart and other stores pulled the Israeli Defense Force costumes from their shelves because they have been declared ‘racist’. The ranks of ‘the offended’ have become one of the most powerful forces in the land, unless of course, the ‘offended’ might happen to be followers of Jesus Christ, or those who tend to be more open about their belief in other traditional values, like protecting human life, for instance. It’s open season on offending them.
In any case, Americans prepare for weeks for the night of artificial terror that Halloween represents. Most hope it will be a night full of adrenalin rushes created by the manipulation of our built-in ‘fight or flight’ responses, capped off by a chocolate binge and a sugar-induced manic episode. Our most feared monsters and imagined predators take center stage in late October, accompanied at times by the heroes and heroines we created to protect us from them. Vampire tales, slasher movies, assorted ‘nightmares’ and a zombie apocalypse or two fill the TV movie menus to the delight of the horror-movie cultists and purveyors of video bloodlust—thank God there’s nothing offensive about any of that. But it’s OK to play make-believe about physical torture, terrorizing innocent people, participating in satanic rituals, or engaging in serial killing as long as it doesn’t suggest anything truly horrifying, like adherence to a Christian world-view.
Having healthy fears and concerns about real dangers is a protective characteristic built into us by our Creator. Without it, our existence would be in even more serious peril than it is presently. A noteworthy side effect of our annual recurrence of imagined horror is that it contributes to our tendency to dilute and dismantle our protective fear mechanisms by replacing real danger with fantasies. The more repulsive and frightening our fanaticized threats become, the less threatening the ones seem to be that God warned us about, and that can leave the door open to unspeakable terrors that are quite real.
In an effort to prepare his protégé, Timothy, for the dangers awaiting him, Paul wrote,
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2a NKJV).
Does that sound frightening? Is anyone worried about having nightmares connected with the truth in those few words? Probably not, but consider this. The monstrous human beings who sawed the heads off innocent people, some of whom were mere children, with no more apparent concern than if they were cutting through a cabbage, did not simply grab a knife one day and start attacking people. They were prepared for it by a systematic exposure to a collection of truth claims, a philosophy, a twisted view of the world and those who inhabit it, including a mandate to kill. In similar fashion, the monstrous men and women who kill babies with the same kind of familiar disregard for the life in their hands didn’t begin that way. They were prepared through a systematic indoctrination into a particular view of the world, its origin, and its inhabitants that enabled them to perform acts of the most callous cruelty against the most innocent and defenseless among us with no response from a conscience. Paul’s words warn of just that kind of nightmare.
The Halloween movies and other horror flicks are all a product of make-up, digital special effects, and pretended emotions. The only frightening thing experienced by the actors and actresses were the critics and the potential for a box office bomb (financial, not literal). There was no real danger to them personally, and if there was any risk involved, well … there were stunt men and stand-ins for that. The same thing is true for the ‘haunted’ houses and scary theme park rides—nothing real to fear other than the irritation of a long wait in line, yet we react with mock alarm.
Are we frightened when we pack our children up and send them off to schools to be taught that they are simply the product of a random string of chemical processes, and that their lives have no real purpose, no ultimate destiny, and no enduring basis for moral judgment? When their parents are stripped of their moral authority, do we cringe in fear? When we see deception applauded as benefit, and truth excoriated as evil, do we sense the stuff of nightmares? Again, probably not, yet the things God warned us about were not grotesque looking mutilations of human beings. Horror isn’t stalking us in the unreal world. It lies hidden in the curriculum composed by demons. It lurks in the hellish deception of their damning lies, and the development of people with no conscience. That is where God saw our worst fears born. That is the dark abyss from which the real nightmares creep into our lives. We have a new ‘Frankenstein and Igor’, and they have moved up in this culture. They’ve diversified into teaching, running news media, and managing entertainment. They aren’t digging up graves for monster material anymore. They get them off our school busses every morning, and the creatures they are working to produce are more frightening than ever. The good news is that we know how they work, and our weapons are a lot more effective than torches and pitchforks, so let’s unleash the truth and give them something to fear for a change.
© 2015 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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