There have been Haunted Houses for a long time. I remember being part of one when I was in the fifth grade. It was a closed off hallway in the school with the lights turned off and old mattresses and box springs tossed randomly on the floor so that you tripped your way through the little maze. Not sure they could do that kind of haunted house these days, what with law suites being what they are.Halloween is a good old fashioned Pagan holiday. One of many good old fashioned Pagan holidays that have been co-opted by more modern religions over the years. That whole harvest festival thing, burning a bond fire of left over crop residue, eating foods that are ripe now, before they have a chance to go bad in a few days. And if you like Stephen King type novels, the occasional human sacrifice to appease the gods. My own Halloweens leaned more toward the mundane. Hitting the good neighborhoods in town for as much candy as you could carry. It was always a shock how much variety there was in the stuff people would give you. Where did they did they get these oddball brands of candy? Some of the stuff had to made especially for Halloween, like the Wax Lips that you never see the rest of the year.Anyway, the local news likes to run stories about what an intolerant bunch of yahoos church goers are this time of year. The church goers often go out of their way to supply fodder for these stories, as any press if good press. My favorite of these stories was about twenty years ago, when a church was having some kind of Halloween party and they turned away kids wearing costumes they deemed inappropriate. These included things like horror movies killers, Satan, and most surprising, E.T. Ok, I can see that maybe dressing up like Freddy Kruger and going to a church is not a great idea, maybe even the Devil is in a bit of bad taste, but a little kid dressed as a sappy movie character? Of course, E.T. had the religious types all pissed off anyway, since he did that whole coming back to life bit and healing people, and they have a corner on that market, thank you very much.
I have never been to a Hell House, but the general idea is that you get to see sinners going to hell. You see things like abortion clinics, drunk drivers, and Democrats in the White House. Shudder. But these places went so far over the line that they actually made people think religion was a bad thing. The people that practice religion are the surest proof of evil here on earth. So a number of the kinder, gentler churches decided that they wanted to do something like a Hell House, but not a Hell House. And so the Judgement House was born. There are also a couple things called a Revelation Walk and a Tribulation Trail, but I have never even seen an ad for one of those.
The Wife is a religious type, and her church is having one of these Judgement Houses and she went to it. It cost three dollars, but if you don’t have three dollars you can go through for free. It is not clear what they are doing with the three dollars, but since it is an elaborate bit of business with an ambulance maybe they are playing for props with the money. The story of the Judgement House is that there are three people, one a good Christian that has been saved, one a bad sinner that drinks, and one good person that is not a Saved Christian. These three people die as the drunk sinner causes a car wreck. The three of them are taken to Judgment, where Jesus sits. The Good Christian is taken to Heaven, the Bad Sinner and the Good Person who is Not a Saved Christian are carted off to Hell. Ah, I love a happy ending.
The point of the story, of course, is that being a good person is not enough to get you into Heaven.
I remember the last time I went to a church service. They had a guest speaker, he was an old white guy that had perfected that whole Billy Graham/Southern Pastor accent with a lot of pauses and meaningful stares into the audience. He told the story of three friends, two were saved and one was not. The two that were saved prayed for their friend, because they knew that the End Of Days could come at any instant and that their friend would not be with them in Heaven if it happen before she was saved. That night they went to sleep and the unsaved friend awoke in the darkness, alone. She ran around the house and found no one. She knew that the rapture had come and she had been left behind! She cried and prayed, knowing it was too late, but determined to try. She found her friends in a back room, praying for her. She found them and they all rejoiced that she was saved!
This story really pissed me off and I have never been to one of these God Forsaken places for a service since. The funny thing is the religious types think this is a good story. Just damned silly is what it is.