Tract or Treat!

The origins of Halloween can be traced back to the celebration of the end of the harvest season on the old continent, but later it was imbued with ideas of convergence between the realms of the living and the dead and all sorts of other nutty ideas. Other boring historical data aside, the holiday was carried over into the United States along evil godless Irish people who were in dire need of some potato in the middle of the 19th century. As with so many other phenomena, it received the traditional americanization treatment and as of today it's a way to get the consumers moving about to buy ugly seasonal rubbish, much like many holidays.

I bet there's nothing more scary for a fundamentalist Christian than a pagan celebration such as halloween. Being exposed to non-Christian traditions will surely ruin the children's minds.

At least Way of the Master or affiliated organizations are not jumping in on this frightening festival, trying to push their message to people under some eerily fitting seasonal guise. Yes, the Living Waters store (home to all products WotM and then some, another extension of Ray Comfort's tentacles) stands freakishly tall head and shoulders above such cheap tactics, and they prove this by releasing a Halloween-specific tract, free for you to print and drop among kids' candies as a sign that your really really love them and wish all the best for them. Enter “DeathBeth”, a tract tailored for junior high and high school students:

deathbeth front

deathbeth back


According to the Living Waters website, Halloween is the most exciting time of the year as people come to your door for tracts! This specific tract is supposed to direct the hapless victim to, where they learn that 10 out of 10 people die, and that they desperately need this chap Jebus to drill his way into their hearts. The website is filled with traditional evangelical prose with the Judgement Day just behind the corner, trucks running over your skull and other such delightful postulations that make up a jolly afternoon. It's good to see the Christian millenarianist ideas still alive and kicking. We also find the traditional WotM good person test thrown in for good measure. Strangely, they do not mention Satan now that he would be properly at home among the little horned and hellish beasts that come by your door in search of sustenance in the form of cellulose and printer ink.

I wrote a previous article on how the WotM witness encounter heavily relies on the age-old Pascal's Wager, and this dynamic tract and website double whammy adheres to their tried and tested formula of simply trying to scare people into their faith. I find the premise of such scare tactics questionable as you try to push your product by pointing out that the alternative is horrible. You don't even need to really want to buy the real product (Heaven/Salvation/God) if you're scared enough of the alternative (Hell/Nipple Clamps/Satan). I'd almost suggest that this approach to converting people into their specific brand of Christianity is what is responsible for most backslidden adherents. Too bad they're not too keen on any kind of scientific testing or follow-up, since I might have a valid point here! On the Way of the Master radio website front page right at this moment in time, there's a soundclip where Todd Friel has a conversation with Doug Pagitt, with a focus on, surprise, hell!

Don't believe in the boogeymen that people say are fake anyway. Believe in the Boogeyman we say is real. Boo.

Maybe I'm alone feeling that spreading your faith with a side dish of decapitated doll is a bit dingy, but aside from that, my hypocrisy radar shows a faint blip from over the Atlantic. WotM is heart and soul against any churches that try a “relevant”, contemporary approach to gathering a following, such as building sermons around the Simpsons, clowns, motocross or poledancing. I just wonder: how is DeathBeth different? You're riding on a pagan holiday, drawing influence from modern horror movie imagery to coat your message with rancid sugar. Sure, there's a difference in scale and amount of work put into it, but the principle is the same: dress up your message so that it appeals to your target audience. This is rather worrying as the dress donned by most of WotM paraphernalia and other products in the Living Waters store boldly says “We did the thinking so you don't have to!” on the front.

I'm almost off for tonight but before I curl up inside my long black cape and magically teleport back into my mountain lair, I am compelled to address the DeathBeth tract in a more visceral manner.

liveregan front

liveregan back


Happy Halloween everyone :)

Living Waters