I love the line in Goonies, where Data says he’s moving to Detroit, and Mouth informs him that it’s the murder capitol. That movie was made in 1985; the same year my family picked up and moved to the Detroit area. The other thing Detroit was famous for that year was rampant Devil’s Night arson, and sure enough, our mailbox got blown to bits with the day’s mail inside, the night of October 30th. That was the first time I’d heard of Devil’s Night or the suggestion that Halloween was something sinister. Since relocating to the heartland, I’ve found the “Beggar’s Night” tradition pretty amusing. Our fear of Halloween has us rescheduling Trick-or-Treating, to avoid the antics. If we aren’t going to Trick-or-Treat on Halloween anyway, why don’t we move Beggar’s Night to the nearest, convenient Friday night? Why still send the kids out on a school night? And why call it “Trick-or-Treat?” Shouldn’t it be “Candy Solicitation” or “Jokes for Junkfood?”
The joy and the problem with Halloween, in my opinion, isn’t the scary movies or the fake blood. The problem is that evil is real every single day of the year. Every day, there are kids running around who would burn down your shed for fun. Every day, the Tempter is at work, enticing us to harm ourselves and one another. Rather than banning my children from the fun of Goosebumps and Harry Potter, rather than closing my door and plugging my ears on October 31st, I’m going to embrace the joy of exercising my imagination, getting little chills down my spine every now and then, and sharing a community experience on the streets of our neighborhood. I’m going to take this chance to connect with the kids on my block and find out what they value by their costume and joke choices. I’m going to fill their bags with Pop Rocks and hope their teenage years are joyful and fruitful enough to keep them off the streets and away from my mailbox.
More important, even than Peanut Butter Cups, I’m going to do my best to live my life, in the world, in a way that reflects the Savior and Creator, who made everything Good, who is more powerful than, and has already scored victory over, evil and the grave, rather than reject the world and isolate myself. I will fear no evil, on Halloween or otherwise, for God is with me. I hope that if I raise my children immersed in the truth that Good is more powerful than Evil, a few sets of vampire fangs and one pointy hat won’t drive them to burn down my shed or dabble in Wicca.
You, LORD, are the light that keeps me safe. I am not afraid of anyone. You protect me, and I have no fears. Psalm 27:1