Part 7 of an 8 part series

by Philip Wallace

. Trunk or Treat .

Halloween gets a bad rap from certain fundamentalist segments of America. I attended a sermon one night about Halloween that was scarier then trick-or-treating could ever be. The preacher’s daughter regaled us with tales of human sacrifice. I listened as she gave a hackneyed account of ancient Druids. I cringed as she mispronounced the word Samhain. It was all I could do to sit quietly in my seat. If you look far back enough into history I’m sure you can always find something evil that stinks. My Halloween smells like sweets and sounds like screams. Since this particular church had all but declared war on the pagan heresy of All Hallows Eve, what did they offer as replacement? It was something called trunk or treat.

On Wednesday nights of Halloween week, the church has its own alternative to Halloween. Parishioners are asked to decorate the trunk of their car or the back of their trucks with Bible scenes. As kids file past the scenes they are given candy. The teenagers take over part of the gym and put on their version of a “Hell House”, which is where nasty real life situations are acted out to try and steer kids toward right behavior. I’m all for good behavior, but the heavy handedness of these little morality plays reminds me of the South Park episode where Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman started smoking because of how stupid an anti-smoking group acted during an assembly. The really interesting part of trunk or treat is the Bible scenes and the trick-or-treaters.

There are always the big ones you’d expect. Noah’s Ark is always popular. The last supper is another one. The crucifixion scenes are usually numerous and sometimes very grotesque. One very large married couple last year dressed as Samson and Delilah. They pretty much groped each other the whole time which was one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen. Barbie dolls were everywhere - there were Barbie Mary’s and Ken’s with magic marker beards playing the roles of Jesus, wise men, prophets, and Moses to name just a few. The devil usually figures prominently in many scenes. It’s not just cheesy tableaus filled with toys; many people go all out for these displays with fog machines, special lighting effects, and the best of all - a truck bed converted to a whale that spurted water while a person playing Jonah relaxed in its belly. This is surreal to see, but it gets even better when you take the time to watch the trick-or-treaters.

The whole community is invited to the event and kids should wear costumes. Ones that don’t attend the church usually wear what they are going out in on Halloween. So there are plenty of witches, monsters, and current popular cartoon characters begging for candy. That’s not all that interesting. What is fascinating are the kids that go to this church. They dress up as Biblical characters. It’s as if somebody took the Muppet Babies concept and applied it to real life: Bible Babies! There’s barely a trace of ancient Druidic harvest festival at this event, though the Biblical violence does bring a foreboding aura.

Trunk or treat is actually kind of fun. I guess the Bible scenes might offend some, but if that’s the case you shouldn’t be attending something like this anyway. The church preaches brimstone and hellfire about Halloween, but their candy is as good as the next person’s. I take my kids to trunk or treat and I take them out on Halloween too. After all, the scariest thing would be not getting any candy at all.

Part 8: The Dead Walk Among Us

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