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  • Reverend James Squire

Halloween and Herschel

This past weekend Trump was interviewed and made his first truthful statement. In response to the interviewer who was speaking about unethical speeches, Trump said, “Things have changed.” That is his one truthful statement! The interviewer was really pointing out that a candidate for Senate like Herschel Walker would not even have been considered ten years ago. Trump’s response was that he was a great football player. The interviewer asked, “What did that have anything to do with being a Senator?” Trump always wants the last word when he reflected, “Things have changed!” He implied you have to wake up and smell the coffee. What he failed to see is that he has been a one-man band to play immoral actions as part of the melody of the band of his base and multitude of people that say they will still vote for him. Walker who has indicated that he is against abortion as a prime political message paid for an abortion for a girlfriend. He also encouraged another girlfriend to have an abortion, and was ridiculed in an online rant by his own son who indicated that he didn’t take care of his children that were brought into this world. “What would make him a great senator is he was a great football player.”

Tommy Tuberville, Republican Senator from Alabama, made a racist statement in a rally for the base when he said, “They want reparations because they think the people who do the crime are owed that. Bullsh--.” Many of his Republican colleagues supported these racist comments. The world has been turned on its head. Surely up must be down! The times have changed as we have been gaslighted so much by the outrageous displays of Trump and his minions that we begin to worry about our own sanity as we experience the people running for government positions.

So, what does all of this have to do with Halloween which has its roots in Christian beliefs and practices? The English word, Halloween, comes from “All Hallows Eve,” being the evening before “All Saints Day.” But things do change and Halloween has been turned into a time when we focus on ghouls and goblins, things that go bump in the night and scary costumes. Movies such as the slasher flics will take prominence along with haunted houses.

The change from moral reflection on Halloween and All Saints Day to reflection today give us a opportunity to ask Trump, “Yes, we changed, but how did we get to where we are today and what role have you played in your behavior and words beginning ten years ago that would not be uttered or done in polite company today? He is too clueless to answer, but let me suggest an example of the “way it used to be.” Legendary basketball coach at EA was Dan Dougherty. His whole team respected him. I never heard a player speak badly about him. I think part of it was that his Roman Catholic background was part of everything that he did. If you were a bad sportsman on the court, you would be immediately pulled out and would be on the bench for the rest of the game no matter how good you were. There were more important things than winning or losing. It was how you played the game.

At practice, if he heard a player utter a profanity, they were immediately sent to the locker room. BUT HERE IS THE KEY. During practice if a profanity slipped out, the player wouldn’t even wait until Coach Doc sent him to the locker room. The player would AUTOMATICALLY GO RIGHT TO THE LOCKER ROOM. Good behavior was automatically handled by the players themselves. THEY KNEW THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THEIR INFRACTIONS.

Tuberville was a coach. I don’t think his moral nature was in the same league as Coach Doc. I can’t imagine Tuberville or Trump seeing sportsmanship more important than winning.

How did this change happen? There is a classic experiment in biology where a frog is put in a beaker filled with water. Underneath is a flame. The heat from the flame would gradually be increased. The frog if left alone will jump out of the beaker in the beginning, but as the high heat is applied, the frog eventually gets use to the change and dies. It is because their bodies adjust to their outside temperature. The same thing is true for us because we have gotten use to immoral unacceptable words and behavior. We are in search of true heroes such as Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

I see this same dynamic highlighted in this holiday of Halloween. One of my great memories as a kid is going to the Riant Theater on Saturday nights to see the horror movies like The Thing, Frankenstein, and War of the Worlds. Both girls and boys would go together. When the monster appeared on the screen, we would drop our popcorn, and hide behind the back of the seat in front of us until a friend would gesture that the monster left the screen. It was now safe for us to reappear.

After the movie we would run home, go to bed, have nightmares, and appear again the next Saturday night with great swagger. If I saw the horror movies that are seen today like Nightmare on Elm Street, or Saw 1,2,3 ,4, and Aliens, I would be unhinged. The horror state of film, the frog in the beaker, the increasing level of inappropriate, immoral words and actions have increased because we have been gradually introduced to them by the passing of time. Unlike Coach Doc people have not been courageous enough to call out the immoral stuff that is happening. Trump and his merry band aren’t being sent to the locker room or going there voluntarily.

We are not troubled enough by bad, inappropriate, and immoral political speech! It has become normalized. It is scarier than what we see on the silver scream. Nightmares disappear eventually after watching a horror movie. It may not disappear after hearing the scary words of Trump, Tuberville, or the Republican enablers of Herschel Walker. However, the nightmare could be the destruction of our Democracy. It is a nightmare from which we may not wake up!

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