Spooky Versus Scary: The Fight for the Spirit of Halloween

This is spooky not scary.

The soul of Halloween is up for grabs like a handful of gummy worms. The hedonistic heathens want Halloween to be scary. Catholics and other normal human beings prefer Halloween to be spooky. Some may think there is little difference between the two, but the reality is, nothing could be more opposed to the spooky than the scary, just as nothing could be more opposed to the body as the spirit.

A harvest moon rises from a cloud over a hillside of corn, as a chill breeze rustles the leaves down an empty street, lined with trees hunched over crawling at the ground with bear branches. Glowing pumpkins grin as you walk door to door to trick or treat. The night is like a blanket you want to hide under but you cannot if you want candy. So you keep walking, keep knocking, until you’ve filled your bucket and received your reward.

That is a picture of spooky. Something more is suggested than the mere material causes of things. There is something meaningful in the sound of moaning wind. There is something to a harvest moon not reducible to the astronomical. There is a big secret behind all the facts of the senses, and Halloween seems to whisper the riddle’s solution a little louder than during other seasons. What that secret is only God and the Saints know—the damned know, too. The living must content themselves with shadows.

I will not paint you a picture of scary, because scaring people is immoral. I can only suggest that what I mean by scary involves bodily harm. That is the difference between being spooked and being scared. The fear of ghosts, of the unknown, is what is meant by spooky. The fear of physical pain is what is meant by being scared.

It is telling that Halloween has become more and more violent precisely when it has become more and more heathen. Without the doctrine of eternity, of an everlasting destiny of either Heaven or Hell, the only alternative is to emphasize the goods and evils of this world, of the sensual delights and agonies of the body. Hence, Halloween today is merely about murder and sex. It has become a hollow shell of its former substantial reality.

But Heaven and Hell do exist, and Saints and the damned are in their respective homes. We hang in the balance. Halloween hangs in the balance. I refuse to let Halloween be perverted by the heathen into something sensual and scary. Halloween is not a holiday about the body but the spirit.

So I plan to make this Halloween as spooky as I can for my children. I refuse to scare them, but I do want to propose an atmosphere of mystery and the eerie which tinges their souls with a fear of the unknown and not merely the painful. Perhaps if they are keen enough to the things of the spirit, they will hear the secret whispered by the moaning wind, by the skeletons, ghosts, and tombstones, that is, the secret of death itself.