Halloween and your Goddamned Soul

A Christian celebrating Halloween is like…uh…

A zombie celebrating Easter?

The British skeptic and illusionist Richard Wiseman recently published a book entitled Paranormality, which takes a pretty clear stand that paranormal phenomena simply do not exist. Much like a geologist writing a book about the earth’s geology doesn’t lend credibility to the idea that our planet is a young one, Wiseman dismisses the idea that strange happenings and observations are actually the effects of supernatural or paranormal causes, and the theme of his book is the development of rational explanations for such strange phenomenon.

Having done quite well in the UK (over half a million copies sold) along with eager publishers in other countries, Wiseman thought that he would easily be able to find an American publisher. This, however, was not the case. Strangely, no major American publisher was willing to take a skeptical project of this nature (although one suggested they might take it if he changed his message to embrace the possibility of the paranormal–which would be like telling Dawkins you’d publish The God Delusion if he put a pro-religious spin on it.)  As a result, even with an already proven commodity, he was forced to self-publish here in the states. Of course we know that there is a big market for the frontline ‘celebrity’ skeptics such as Dawkins, Harris, Shermer, Dennett, and Hitchens; however, this is largely because these skeptical activists are constantly exposed to their target audience (via debates, conferences, websites, podcasts, etc.) and the marketing of their books from publishers perspectives is practically effortless.

From Left to Right: Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Dennett
They want your soul too!

Additionally, all these authors (with the possible exception of Shermer who seems more balanced with regard to all the ) tend to focus on religious skepticism, and skepticism toward the paranormal seems to have significantly less market appeal in the states. This is not because Americans get uptight about criticism of the paranormal (in the way we get uptight about religious critique which generates controversy…which sells.) On the contrary, one can dismiss the paranormal until they are blue in the face and really meet very little resistance…it simply doesn’t seem to affect how the culture is enamored with supernatural and paranormal ideas. In fact, an entire industry has been built around our desire for spooky, invisible, magical things. Television shows which feature haunted houses, ghost hunters, UFOs, and cryptozoological phenomenon have become a staple of American television and can be found at just about any time of day while surfing through the typical cable schedule array of crap. Shows which challenge or debunk such phenomenon draw almost no interest, however, although there is an impressive body of criticism on the Internet; unfortunately, the relish with which the American youth seems to engulf this kind of belief indicates a steady decline in our capacity for critical thought.

At first you might be inclined to protest, “Wait, what about MythBusters?” but the MythBusters focus on questions of physics, they don’t spend too much time on spooks, aliens and Bigfoot.

From the other side, the religious credit the continued decay of morals to these brides of Satan who are able to infiltrate the minds and souls of our impressionable youth. The problem, according to the devoutly religious, is not our lack of critical thought, but the deterioration of religion in a secular society. And this is no more emphasized than the growing influence of Halloween in our lives!

The first commentator, John Weldon, gave his little speech about the dangers of participating in Halloween (to any extent) with a lit jack-o-lantern in the background, which I found amusing. The second speaker, James Bjornstad, says “The garments [you wear]…do carry some content, some understanding with [them]” while wearing that hideous tie–also amusing. This nuttiness from the hardcore religious should no longer be surprising; the Fundamentalist perspective on Halloween has long been whacky, as captured by the original Chick Tracts that specifically target Halloween.

Evidence: Harry Potter, Twilight, The View (oh wait, witches, scratch The View.)
Still, though, The View is a slap in everbody’s face.
(Oh no you di’ent!!)

I wish I had a dollar for ever time ole Pumpkin Head pulled
the bait-and-switch during the Halloween cat sacrifice. 

And Chuck Missler tells us (in his celebrated Halloween Sermon) that “For a Christian to celebrate Halloween is like having a Holocaust vicitim celebrate Hitler’s birthday.” Hmmm…so is Halloween more like Hitler’s birthday or a Klan parade?

This one (audio) is priceless…

and nicely captures the delusion of the average believer. The appeal of the paranormal doesn’t reflect a lack of critical thought after all, it reflects a lack of Jesus! (They probably weren’t too thrilled at Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.)

Many churches will have an alternate celebration during Halloween to lure their members away from the strong pull of the occult. For example…

Obvioulsy a Poe, but they nailed it…so to speak.

jk

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