The Thrill of the Fall
As the leaves begin to change and the weather cools down, we embrace pumpkin spice season once again (!!) and the liturgical calendar carries us to the Solemnity of All Saints and the Memorial of All Souls. It is time to prepare for shorter days and start planning our Halloween costumes, and it is natural in this season to begin thinking about life after death or even death itself. We may even notice cemeteries more or become increasingly aware of the need to pray for the souls who have died.
Fall offers many opportunities to embrace Halloween in a fun and prayerful way (after all, the word “hallow” actually means “to make holy”), but it is also really easy to become curious about some of the darker things in life. There is a thrill that comes with being creeped out after hearing a scary story or watching a good murder mystery. You may have already noticed all the new movie recommendations, true crime series, or real murder documentaries that have popped up in your feeds. While there is nothing wrong about loving a good history lesson or documentary, it is really easy to get hooked on these fascinating true stories, and there is a real danger in becoming too fascinated with evil.
Acknowledge, but Don’t Celebrate Evil
The reality is this: the devil loves to distract us from what is good, true, and beautiful. With phone cameras so easily accessible, we can view crimes seconds after they happen. With new documentaries and movies, we can almost get into the minds of criminals, viewing graphic crime as though it is happening right before us. We are saturated with content that portrays evil for us in very real and visceral ways. Not to mention, our news channels are full of bad news that is so often spun in a way that makes it easy to become cynical — believing that there is more bad going on in this world than good.
At the end of the day, I think we find these stories interesting not because of the evil portrayed, but because we want to see evil defeated by good and are subconsciously looking for that redemptive factor. While it is OK to appreciate these stories, it is dangerous if we become so saturated with evil that we begin to think it is normal. We can become so curious that we begin to celebrate evil or only find enjoyment in evil stories. Or worse, we begin to enjoy evil so much we open ourselves up to the devil.
Evil, of course, does exist. It is very real, so real that God had to send His Son to redeem us from it. The problem with some of our current entertainment is that it focuses on the evil but offers no redemption to its viewers. It proposes that evil is where everything ends or that evil is the solution itself.
Questions to Ask
So, where do we draw the line? How can we appreciate some of the stories offered in this season and not lose our souls in the process? Here are some tips for how to enjoy the Halloween season.
As you watch movies and shows, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this show celebrate evil by downplaying murder, sexual abuse, and/or verbal abuse?
- Does this show celebrate violence, hell, or the devil?
- Is the criminal or “bad guys” the hero in this tv show/movie?
- How do you feel after watching it? Peaceful or anxious?
Halloween is a great holiday to celebrate. It marks the vigil of the Solemnity of All Saints, and is a moment to remember how Christ conquered evil. Halloween also reminds us of the souls that have passed and how we will all be reunited at the end of time. Have fun this season, but be careful of the media you consume.
As you make the final touches on your Halloween costume or finish decorating your home, you can rest in the knowledge that Christ redeemed us from evil. He has the final victory over sin and death. Jesus desires a life of joy and freedom for us. We do not need to wait until we are among the cloud of witnesses to celebrate Christ’s victory over death, we can enter into this celebration now.
Editor’s Note: If you would like to go deeper on this topic, the following are some great additional resources.