Narcotics for Man's Soul, Part 2


In an article written last year for her Small Business Trends weblog, Anita Campbell charted the steady growth of Halloween-themed superstores in the United States. The most salient statistic she cited was this one from the National Retail Federation: U.S. Halloween sales in 2004 totaled $3.12 billion. That figure was expected to rise 5.4% this year to $3.29 billion. Various surveys report that 50-60% of Americans celebrate Halloween every year. Over the last decade, Halloween has expanded the holiday shopping window so that Christmas, once known as a religious holiday, is now mostly the culmination of two months of hyper-aggressive retail marketing and unchecked consumer spending.

Halloween's fast-rising popularity in the U.S. (and the U.K.*) clearly reflects the cultural trends toward religious/spiritual pluralism, moral equivalency, and the erosion of absolute truth. The occult origins of Halloween are generally well-known to Christians if not always taken seriously. Halloween's speciality — desensitizing children and adolescents to the morbid and grotesque — should be a particular source of consternation for believers.

In spite of all this, Europe — whose descent into the spiritual dark ages predates America's — is still not entirely taken with Halloween. While some of that is due to Europe's ingrained resistance to American cultural exports, the contrast highlights America's unrivaled material wealth. The lusts of the eyes wield a greater sphere of influence than the occult. Ghosts and goblins rather rely on the worship of the modern-day idols of consumer culture. Worldliness opens men up to spiritual attack and can lead them down the road to the occult.

When the occult is co-opted by consumerism (Halloween, Harry Potter), it flies under the radar. The occult appeals to overt spiritual rebellion. The consumer culture, on the other hand, subtly and gradually takes our eyes off of Christ's Lordship and God's Word. Spotting the dangers of materialism can be tricky because it's usually not about the thing itself, but our orientation to that thing.

Material comforts have created an insatiable appetite for constant entertainment and the acquisition of newer and "better" things, and Halloween is yet another link in that chain. It's a chain that's squeezing the truth out of American churches. (See the many frightful examples at Ingrid Schlueter's Slice of Laodicea.)

Jesus said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Mark 10:25) A little perspective: America is the richest nation in the history of the world.

*One columnist for London's Independent laments the Halloween craze.

Narcotics for Man's Soul