On Illinois Ave, in the city of Aurora, stands a house that scares my children. It is not the house exactly, but the macabre figures that adorn the yard and house. In the middle of September the occupants of the house began to create an elaborate landscape dedicated to horror. Not one inch of the yard or house is spared. Rooftop, treetop and yard are filled with bleeding, decomposing and tortured figures. One is being sawn in half, another electrocuted, a bride corpse dangles, and more. Much, much more. It is as if death and hellishness are being celebrated. And indeed, they are.
We pass this house twice a day, to and from school. Its gruesome figures and celebration of pain/torture spark fear in the younger child, outrage in the older ones. I have tried to answer the questions from them regarding it, but it does little to alleviate their fear and feelings of angst. I am left with questions myself. Questions about the people who put up this display. Questions about their motives, their sensitivity or lack of. And I am left with this conclusion. They derive pleasure from things that should horrify. It makes me angry that they would care so little for the innocents who pass by.
Don’t get me wrong, I WANT my children to be afraid. Not of plastic figures depicting death. Not of made up creatures, vampires or werewolves. Such things are mere figments of overactive imaginations. But there are REAL things of which I want my children to have a healthy dose of fear. And those I point out to them regularly.
I want them to be afraid of debt. I hope that when they see a credit card or unnecessary debt, it will not look like harmless plastic. I hope they can see it as a chain that could enslave them.
I hope they are afraid of ending up lonely and sad, if they take their spouse and family for granted, or if they live a selfish or abusive life.
I hope they will view pornography and sexual promiscuity as a bony death grip reaching out to crush the joy out of Gods blessing for sexuality.
I hope they will be afraid of choosing a spouse by looks and charm alone, neglecting character and spiritual integrity.
I hope they will see past the lies of advertising and see the actual, horrifying results of alcohol consumption. I hope they see past the can, the bottle, the ‘fun’ time to the bodies of parents and children crumpled in cars wrecked by a drunk driver. I hope they are deathly afraid that that first drink could lead them to become like their great-grandfather who drank his paycheck up while his children had no shoes.
I want them to be afraid of the troubles and addictions that come from drug use.
Yes, I want them to be afraid. Not of gruesome looking Halloween figures that come out once a year, but of the REAL monsters, chains and messengers of hell that walk the streets everyday. For in healthy fear, there is power. Power over the trap laid out to snare their feet. Power to say “No”. Power to make wise choices.
So when we pass the ugly house twice a day (it is on the road where they attend school) I explain to my children that pretend horror is ugly, but not as ugly as debt, addiction, alcoholism, sin. And I pray that they will listen, and be afraid. Very, very afraid.