Hallowe’en won’t be the same this year, much to the chagrin of many costume-wearing children and pillowcase-toting teens. With COVID-19 still lurking and positive cases spiking again, some towns are banning all trick-or-treating, including church-sponsored “trunk-or-treating,” while others merely discourage the practice.
I’m not sure how many kids in our neighborhood will be out, but we’ll keep our porch light off to discourage the practice, even though I suspect there may be a lot of cute little doctors and nurses who could make their masks part of the costume.
On our long walks through several connected subdivisions, we noted that the same people who go big for decorating every year are unfazed: We see spider webs and tombstones galore, ghosts hanging in trees, and jack-o’-lanterns grinning from front porch steps.
The biggest display, interestingly enough, belongs to a Mormon family with six children. Their small yard is adorned with a collection of large inflatable spooks and a score of playful skeletons in assorted sizes and poses.
A pair of dragons lurk behind a sign: “Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.” My favorite is a menacing black cat perched near the street; its head swings back and forth.
I was curious enough to check, and the Latter-day Saints, according to LDSliving.com, generally frown on anything that borders on the dark side of occultism. But, Mormons do encourage wholesome family activities, and our neighborhood family clearly makes the front yard display a family project, more fun than frightening.
I noted that the LDS handbook forbids activities that involve wearing masks “except in dramatic productions,” but mainly as a way of discouraging anonymity and encouraging Mormons to be proud of who they are.
Because the point is avoiding disguise and Mormons promote healthy lifestyles, I’m sure the disease-preventing masks-du-jour are both allowed and encouraged.
It occurred to me that a coronavirus-crimped Hallowe’en has at least one upside: Hopefully, it has curbed the number of those horrid Hell Houses that some churches promote as a way of scaring the bejesus out of sinners and scaring Jesus into them.
While such newfound faith might stick with a few folks, selling salvation like fire insurance is unlikely to result in truly faithful believers. Baptism by threat of hell alone is a bit like being vaccinated: We get a small case of religion, assume we’re immune from judgment and let it go at that.
While we hope that a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 will become available in the next few months, vaccinating against a seriously considered and vital faith shortchanges folks who need the gospel while also holding the faith up for ridicule.
Hallowe’en is coming, followed by an election that could have truly scary consequences. It’s time to put on our masks, practice love over fear, make sure we vote – and keep an eye out for dragons.