I still have a story to finish that I started when I first started attending a Reformed Baptist Church. In a way it was about poking fun at how some people turn their theological commitments into virtue signaling. It occurred to me to set it in Hallowe’en, since there is a kind of backlash about that: instead of celebrating Hallowe’en, we celebrate Reformation Day. What is also amusing in that context is that there are those who don’t want to celebrate Christmas. You would think exchanging Hallowe’en for Reformation Day would go along with exchanging Christmas for the pagan holiday those who don’t want to celebrate Christmas are looking to avoid.
I have noticed that Hallowe’en is starting to eclipse other holidays. It isn’t even an official holiday, but you should see the preparations, the parades, the things they do at schools. You probably do: it is unavoidable. A lot goes into it.
I’m not against Hallowe’en myself. I think things that are strange are interesting. To what would our sense of proportion diminish if we didn’t have the grotesque? And the whole thing makes sense: people can dress up, people can chose all kinds of things, the mood isn’t an illogical enforced happiness. So there are many things that appeal about Hallowe’en, besides the free-marketness of it. It is not, after all, decreed by the government or expected out of some kind of social morality. In fact, it has the appeal of having those who frown on it—which appeal is certainly something I can understand. But even I wonder at the lengths the whole thing has taken on.
It is kind of like jeeps. Have you noticed how many people are driving Wranglers and Rubicons? Not SUVs, but tough jeeps, with huge, sawtooth, predatory tires and the boxy, machine-like, omnicompetent look—the amount seems disproportionate. It is as if these drivers are expecting to go off road. And it makes you wonder if they are expecting to do so on the way to the grocery store or what.
I recently listened to a very interesting interview that Bari Weiss did. It was Jaron Lanier, who is a figure in the internet industry. A most curious bird. His assessment is that people are living on the edge, that there is a prevailing sense of doom, of looming catastrophe that defines our times. Hard to argue with that one (even if you don’t, like Jaron Lanier, live in California). It seems obvious once it is pointed out. It certainly accounts for all the jeeps.
And I wonder if the rise of Hallowe’en that I perceive is not some part of that thing. Perhaps Hallowe’en gives people a way of dealing with this sense of constantly living life these days on the edge.