|Pieter Bruegel; "Fall Of The Rebel Angels", 1562|
When our family moved here from Santa Fe, we were surprised to learn that Eugene had a school system that offered so many choices; besides being able to attend any public school regardless of location, there were also a few semi-public charter schools as well. At the time this seemed like a great idea, and we chose an elementary school whose focus, so said the brochure, was centered on academic excellence; what could go wrong with that? Well, we found out.
By the end of September, our first grader was less than thrilled with the curriculum - there was no music, no art, and no science. Her mom and I thought we should give it some time, see if things improved; it might just be a matter of getting used to a new school, in a different town. Two weeks later she came home close to tears; at her school, she said, there would be no Halloween. No dress up day, no costume parade; even talk about Halloween was discouraged. As a substitute, at the end of October there would be something called a "Harvest Festival", whatever that was.
I met with the principal, who headed both the charter school our daughter was in, and the public grade school on whose grounds the charter school was located, and learned that the school we had chosen had been founded by a group of Christian parents who, having some misgivings about the direction of public education, had started an institution that would offer what to them was a "healthier" alternative. I wondered why their board of directors didn't mention that in their literature; the principal (who, it should be noted, allowed Halloween to be observed in the public school that shared the facilities) thought it had something to do with state funding guidelines.
Being so much in my clueless, boy-in-the-bubble type of head space, this was my first hint that something strange was happening in our country. That there was a movement, if one can call it that, of people so fixated on what they considered the negative aspects of American life that they were actively working to create a new social order. People who saw penises in Disney films; who not only banned their kids from reading, but also burned, Harry Potter books; who drooled over every detail of the President's impeachment for a blowjob; people who wanted to outlaw Halloween.
Banning Halloween; burning Harry Potter. It makes you want to ask "What in the hell are you afraid of, anyway?" I did some asking around, and it turns out that Hell is what they're afraid of.
If you're reading this, and if you live in the U.S., the overwhelming chances are that you believe in the existence of Angels - supernatural beings who intercede on behalf of, and carry out the wishes of, God in his Heaven; depending on the study or poll, somewhere between 75 to 85 percent of us do. And by extension, you are also convinced of the presence of Demons in our world, or at least in our country - the counterparts of Angels, Demons are the minions of the Devil, who according to legend was once an Angel himself. Of course, if you believe in Angels, these aren't legends, or myths at all; they're facts.
So, as I mentioned earlier, I talked to a few people who really knew what was going on, and here's how it works: Demons are some pretty big mojo badasses, pretty much capable of any kind of evil or cruel act, and their boss, the Devil (or Lucifer or Satan), who is the biggest evilest badass of all, has a Plan. Just what that plan is, I didn't find out exactly since there's some difference of opinion, or 'doctrine' as they call it; but basically it involves Really Messing Us Up. And causing a lot of suffering and death along the way. And what Angels do, is they fly around and try to prevent a lot of what the Demons want to inflict on us. In most people's minds, Angels are our guardians, our protectors, and we should feel blessed, and thankful, that God in his wisdom has seen fit to provide this valuable service for us.
And just how does Halloween fit into all this? It turns out that it, and Harry Potter, and Disney films, and a whole lot more, including public education, PBS, and universal health care, are all a part of that rascal, the Devil's plan. Simple as that. And what's more, if by some slim chance you don't believe any of this, why then, you aren't on the side of the Angels, and so you are by inference rooting for the other team, and thus actively helping to advance the Devil's agenda. Whoa. I had no idea.
Well, my eyes are now opened, and I guess I should be glad that our country, along with most of Canada (except Quebec), and a few select parts of Europe, has this kind of wonderful protection. Of course, it's a different story in the rest of the world, or the Godless Heathen Foreign Lands, as they're known, since those ignorant heathen foreigners don't even believe in Angels, may God have mercy on their souls, and so they don't have or deserve any protection at all.
On the other hand, it's kind of freaky to think that the greatest military power the world has ever known is being run by people who sincerely trust in the divine intervention of Angels. And it also goes a long way toward explaining why we as a nation have made some really dumb collective mistakes. After all, anybody gullible enough to believe in supernatural beings wouldn't need a lot of convincing to also fall for things like the existence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, or the hyped-up meta-threat posed by the latest scary medical pandemic (currently ebola), or making voting decisions based on TV advertisements paid for by giant corporations.
Getting back to our first grader, yes we changed schools. I was able to schedule a meeting with the principal of a school in the neighborhood south of the University, within easy cycling distance from where we live; on Halloween day I walked up to the portico of that fine old brick building a bit after school let out, and the door was opened, and held open for me, by a cheerful, smiling young witch who outran me up the steps. The principal, who happened to be dressed up that day as an elementary school principal, suggested I also meet with the first grade teacher, and after finding my way down a high ceilinged wood floored hallway to room 104, I met a wonderful tooth fairy who said she would be pleased to welcome our daughter into her classroom. It felt a lot like coming home after being gone for a long time, and that year was the first of our very happy Halloweens in Eugene.