Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Tag: halloween (Page 1 of 2)

How the Satanic Panic Almost Ruined Halloween

http://villains.wikia.com/wiki/Junie_HarperOne of our favorite things to watch this time of year is the “Hilloween” episode of King of the Hill. In this episode, traditional Halloween-related activities come under assault from hyper-conservative religious (and litigious) types who assert that Halloween is a satanic holiday. Soon, satanic panic pervades the whole town and Halloween is called off and trick-or-treating is banned. Children are instead sent to the “Hallelujah House,” where they’re allowed to wear costumes as long as they’re “Christian” in nature and are subjected to a spook house display of real-life “horrors” like teen pregnancy before being thoroughly evangelized.

Refusing to bow down to the hysteria, Hank Hill and friends protest by marching through town in their Halloween costumes, violating the trick-or-treat ban and the citywide curfew and in the process reminding everybody what Halloween’s really all about in our culture: candy and good, clean, innocent fun. Pretty soon, the whole town is marching with them, and they march right up to the Hallelujah House to collect their children and give them a proper Halloween.

Before I go any further, I want to point out that one of the things I appreciate about this episode is that it’s not presented as “those crazy Christians” vs. more level-headed non-believers. Anyone who watched this show with any regularity would know that Hank Hill and company are church-going Methodists with a love of God, Country and Texas. So it’s more like ONE overzealous Christian against a whole town of Christians who are usually more level-headed but nevertheless get caught up in the hysteria.

Anyone born after, say, 1985 might watch this episode and find it funny because it seems so absurd and over the top. But to anyone who grew up in the Bible Belt and lived through the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, it’s funny because it’s true.

Halloween took a weird, dark turn during the ‘80s. When I was a little kid during most of the ‘70s and the very early ‘80s, Halloween was one of the best times of the year. My neighborhood at the time was a true community, with a volunteer fire house that acted as a meeting place and a Ladies’ Auxiliary that organized neighborhood events. One of those events was an annual Halloween party at the firehouse. They set up a spook house for the older kids, and had costume contests and candy for the younger kids. Once it was over, everybody went trick-or-treating through the neighborhood. It was safe, and fun, and nobody gave a single thought to Satan.

Then one year my mom decided we weren’t putting up any Halloween decorations. Why? Because Satan. By this point, the county had installed a government-run fire department a few miles from our neighborhood, and the volunteer firehouse had been shut down and the Ladies’ Auxiliary disbanded, so the yearly parties were already a thing of the past. But trick-or-treating was still a big deal, so thankfully our mom backed down from forbidding us to dress up or trick-or-treat. She was one of the only mom’s who did, though. I had a hard time finding friends to go out with me on Halloween night that year because they were all being taken to “Hallelujah parties” at their churches.

This went on for a number of years. My mom continued to forbid us to put out Halloween decorations, although she still let us dress up and have our fun. I sat through a lot of sermons and lectures from youth group pastors about the evil origins of Halloween. At some point, nights out trick-or-treating started to end with a trip to the emergency room to get our candy x-rayed to make sure it didn’t contain needles or razor blades. Giving out baked goods or anything unwrapped or homemade became verboten because they might be laced with poison. We made sure to keep our black lab put up because Satanists apparently loved to sacrifice animals with black fur. Walking around the neighborhood to trick-or-treat became deemed unsafe because we were all targets for satanic kidnappers, so we started seeing station-wagons and minivans full of kids being shuttled from house to house.

 

https://i0.wp.com/img.youtube.com/vi/Ce_rXR3tdqQ/0.jpg?resize=400%2C310

Somehow, this…

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/93/Francisco_de_Goya_y_Lucientes_-_Witches%27_Sabbath_-_WGA10007.jpg

… was supposed to be a gateway to this. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Through it all, I remained stubborn like Hank Hill. I refused to stop trick-or-treating or dressing up. For me, Halloween was about dress-up and make-believe and fun, safe scares and getting a sugar high. I failed to see how any of that glorified Satan. I still do.

I’m happy to see that, for the most part, all of the fear around Halloween has abated, and the holiday is a lot more like what it was when I was a kid. I still hear grumblings from time to time about Satan and Druids and pagan origins — but I also hear that stuff about modern Christmas and Easter traditions — and one local mega-church has a big-budget version of Junie Harper’s Hallelujah House that draws a big crowd every year.

But overall, it seems like everyone’s relaxed, and Halloween is more popular than ever. I drive around town and see churches advertising pumpkin patches and trunk-or-treat events. Walking through my neighborhood, I see plenty of houses and yards that have been spookified for the occasion. Even my mom has her grandkids and great-grandkids out for hot dogs and trick-or-treating every year.

Matt and I have our own Halloween traditions, which involve carving pumpkins, munching on popcorn and candy and watching John Carpenter movies in between handing out candy to trick-or-treaters. And you can bet our house is covered in Halloween decorations (although we still need to do something with the front porch).

What about you guys? Is Halloween one of your favorite holidays, or do you have reservations about it? Are you old enough to remember the Satanic Panic, and did it ruin your Halloweens, too? Let’s hear about it in the comments.

And if you haven’t seen it, try to spare 25 minutes or so to watch “Hilloween.” You’ll be glad you did.

 

Happy Halloween! (Other Writer Wednesday Open Thread)

Happy costumes and free candy day, folks! In lieu of candy*, I’m still giving away free e-copies of my paranormal fantasy novel, Restless Spirits. This Halloween promotion ends at 11:59 PM PST tonight, so get it while it’s still free.

*Only on the Internet, not at my door, because I do not want my house to get TP’d.

This is also the last Wednesday of the month, and hence, OPEN PIMP THREAD. Have something to promote? Tell my readers about it in the  comments.

And to help celebrate the holiday, here are some relevant links.

The Anything Ghost Halloween Special

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

The Halloween Blog Hop

Marble Hornets (It’s scary watch it!)

Spooky Encounters #3: Strange Things Afoot at the Cousins House

Reminder! Speaking of restless spirits, today is the last chance to snag your FREE copy of my novel, Restless Spirits, on Smashwords. Coupon code FU23M expires at midnight!

For the first two years of our marriage, Matt and I rented out the upstairs of my mom’s house. At the time, my mom basically ran a boarding house. After building her big dream house after my dad passed away, at some point she decided that it was too much house for her alone and started taking in boarders, mostly extended family and people from her church who needed a place to stay and couldn’t afford a lot of rent. During the time of this story, the house’s other residents included my mom’s sister and her grandson, and another guest who will remain nameless.

This last boarder was the sort of person who you never knew what sort of stuff she or her associates might be into. It was during the months that she stayed there that all of this went on.

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Spooky Encounters: Demons In My Bed

I was 22 years old and living at home after a stint away at college, and my father had recently passed away. Battling insomnia, I had been lying in bed for hours. As I lay on my back and stared at the ceiling, trying to will my mind to settle down and stop thinking long enough to let me fall asleep, I kept imagining weird, creepy faces floating around my room. I told myself that this was the beginning of dreaming and I was FINALLY starting to drift off to sleep, and the dark nature of what I was seeing must be due to stress. But sleep still eluded me, and I was starting to get creeped out, so I decided to get up and read or watch TV or something.
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Spooky Encounters: 320 South Boston

320 South Boston

Photo credit: the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society.

In the run up to Halloween, I thought I’d share some of the spookier experiences I’ve had throughout my life. Apart from assuring you that I am not making this stuff up, these are submitted without comment — you can make up your own mind about what, exactly, it was that I encountered. Watch for more of these stories to appear over the weekend.

Back in the fall and winter of 2004-2005 I spent several months temping in this iconic downtown Tulsa building. It’s one of the oldest buildings downtown, built in 1917, and I believe it was considered Tulsa’s first skyscraper, although the tower section wasn’t added until 1929.

I was working for the building management office at the time, as a shared receptionist and operator for several different businesses in the building. If I recall correctly, the management’s headquarters were on the 9th floor (it might have been the 7th; either way, it was in the oldest part of the building), and they had a big office suite with a private lounge where I would often go to grab a nap on my lunch hour. Back by the lounge was a large private bathroom. The whole area was pretty secluded.

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Marzipan Pie Shop Open for Business; Make Your Own Giant Eyeball

As I’ve been threatening to for a few weeks now, I spent the weekend setting up my “new” knitted and crocheted accessories shop on Etsy, Marzipan Pie. I used to run a similar shop under the name Vanilla Fizz, but that was so long ago that I actually thought it might be less confusing to tie the shop name into the blog.

I originally wanted to wait until we got our new camera so I could take better pictures, and now that the deed is done I kind of wish I stuck with that plan, because the pictures that our cheap-o point-and-shoot Vivitar take haven’t gotten any crisper. But my budding photographer husband is still shopping around and trying to decide which camera he wants, and I’ve got some Halloween related items to sell, and the window on that is closing soon, so I figured I’d better just make do with what we have and hope for the best.

One of those Halloween related items is a set of crocheted “eyeball” coasters. I also thought it would be cute to make a sleep mask out of a pair of them, as seen below (click to embiggen):

They’re simple to make: Just make a basic granny circle, single-crochet the first round in black for the pupil and the second round in whatever color you want the iris to be, then double-crochet two rounds in white. For the mask, simply make two circles and stitch them together slightly above the center. For the ties, you can knit two icords, or chain stitch two chains, or simply attach some ribbon or a strip of elastic. To make it a sleep mask, you’ll need to sew some soft fabric onto the back to block out the light (and prevent stitch indentations from covering your face when you wake up).

Or you could just buy the coasters here, and/or the sleep mask here.

Goals for the week, and Halloween paper crafts

(Cross-posted from Daydream Believer

It’s Sunday night and, like I said, Monday’s are heck-a busy, so let’s lay out some goals for the coming week. But first, a quick recap of my day, most of which was spent with part of Husband’s side of the family, where meat was smoked and then consumed, rowdy, excited dogs (well, one) were petted and petted and assured that they are very pretty and that yes, I love them even though I just met them, too, Guitar Hero and Scrabble were played, mead (yes, actual mead) was drunk, and a fine time was had by all. All, that is, except our own pets who, judging by how forlorn they acted when we left and how pee-their-pants happy they acted when we got back, were lonely and depressed and miserable the entire time we were gone. Either that, or they’ve got us so fooled that we don’t even suspect them of partying the entire time. I like to think it’s the former. Poor babies.

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