We’re on the cusp of yet another American Halloween night, and the usual trappings have already been on display for weeks. Millions of Americans engage in rather elaborate and sometimes expensive preparation for celebrating a night of artificial terror. Vampire tales, demonic slashers, assorted spooks, and a zombie apocalypse or two adorn TV program guides, and every old horror classic ever to abuse an adrenalin gland is freed from some dusty digital archive and thus allowed another shot at a leading role in our next nightmare. It’s envisioned to be a night full of fun … fun being defined as a sugar-induced manic episode for kids and an alcohol-induced collection of fresh regrets for adult party-goers.
Fears Can Be Healthy ~
Having healthy fears and concerns about real dangers is a good thing built into us by our Creator. Without it, our very existence would be in serious peril. A troubling side effect of our annual celebration of fictional horror is its potential to diffuse and dismantle our protective defense mechanisms by replacing real danger with fantasies. The more repulsive and frightening our fanaticized threats become, the less threatening and more tolerable the real ones look, and that can open the door to things that are really destructive that we hardly notice in spite of God’s warnings.
In an effort to prepare his protégé, Timothy, for the dangers awaiting him and all of us who would follow later, 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).
It isn’t likely that the implications of those few words are spawning nightmares for anyone, but consider this. We have been exposed to monstrous behavior that Hollywood had nothing to do with. We have seen real human beings saw the heads off innocent people with no more apparent concern than if they were cutting through a cabbage. These weren’t imaginary, non-existent villains created in movie studio; they were real human beings doing reprehensible things we would consider inhumane – but they weren’t always that way.
Monsters Aren’t Born—They’re Created ~
Terrorists didn’t just wake up one day and decide to dismantle their conscience and begin killing with a heartless disregard for the pain of others and for life itself. This monstrous behavior began with the teaching of a particular collection of truth claims, a philosophy, a view of the world and those who inhabit it. The killing began with a belief in a system that included a mandate for doing such horrific things, which was accompanied by desirable rewards.
While we would be excoriated for referring to them as another class of “terrorists”, and we’re not suggesting that we do, it’s noteworthy to at least acknowledge that those who casually dismember innocent little human beings and call it a “clinical procedure” display that same familiar disregard for the lives in their hands. But those people weren’t born that way, either. It began with a systematic, decades-long indoctrination into a particular worldview. A godless explanation of our origin and our basic nature, coupled with the absolute denial of absolute truth and/or a fixed standard for moral accountability allows them to perform acts of the most callous cruelty against the most innocent and defenseless among us, with no response from a conscience. It’s the kind of nightmare that results from the “doctrines of demons” that Paul warned us about.
Horrors We Don’t Fear ~
When our bureaucratically-sanctioned curriculums teach our children that they are simply the product of an uncontrolled confluence of random chemical processes, that their lives have no inherent purpose, no ultimate destiny, that there’s no enduring basis for moral judgment, and thus no valid meaning, does that frighten us? When parents are stripped of their moral authority and told that the government knows what their children need more than they do, 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.
This time of year, all kinds of made-up, manufactured mechanisms are introduced in an effort to expand our list of potential things to fear. Faux horror is on parade, but horrifying destructive forces aren’t stalking us only in the realm of the unreal. Grotesque ideas hide in textbooks. Monstrous potential lurks in curriculum laced with demonic influence. Terror lives in the dark deception of damning lies. Fear is personified by manipulating the development of children so that they grow into people with no conscience. That’s where our worst fears are realized. That’s the dark abyss from which the real nightmares creep into our lives.
A Dramatic Makeover—But Only on the Inside ~
Frankenstein and Igor have moved up in this culture. They’ve developed much more attractive images and created new profiles. They got Harvard degrees and once Igor got that weird eye thing fixed, they started to move among the most cultured and sophisticated social circles. Their interests are more diversified now, and their career paths were re-constituted to include teaching, running news media, and managing entertainment.
Current day monster makers “look” so much better now, but their objectives haven’t changed all that much. It’s just that they don’t have to creep around cemeteries in the dark anymore, and they don’t waste time digging up graves for monster material anymore. They get them off our school busses every morning, and the creatures they’re working to produce are more terrible and deadly than ever … Frightened yet?
© 2017 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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