November 25, 2020

iMonk Classic: The Great Pumpkin Proposes a Toast

Classic iMonk Post
by Michael Spencer

The following toast was taped at the 4,231st Halloween Dance and Potluck, held this year in the basement of the Salem, Masachusetts City Hall. The guest toastmaster was The Great Pumpkin, well known advocate of Halloween among children. Those in attendance included a variety of witches, ghosts, fairies, gremlins, mummies, headless horsemen, bats, vampires, werewolves, monsters, members of the Adam’s family, the Munsters and, of course, thousands of  things that go bump in the night.

“Ladies and gentlemen, ghouls and goblins, monsters and monstrosities both real and imaginary: It’s truly an honor for me to be with you this evening on what is always a wonderful time of rekindling old friendships and wishing one another well before our big night. Many of us never see our fellow members of the realm of imagination except at this gathering, and it’s really wonderful to see all of you again. I especially want to thank this year’s President of the Halloween Society, Harry Potter, for all the work he’s done this year. What a year, Harry! (Applause.)

“It would be remiss of me to say much this evening without paying grateful respects to my creator, Charles Schulz, who gave me the opportunity to live as long as people read his work, which I will believe will be many years to come. Sparky—you did good. (Applause)

“I know that each of you takes your part in Halloween very seriously, and I want you to, but I hope you won’t forget to take a moment and smile at yourselves. You know, we bring a lot of joy into the world, and I want all of you to take a moment and feel good about that. Just turn to the ghoul or monster next to you and say “you’re a special person who makes people happy.” (Noise)  I want you to remember that, and I want you to see one another as important in this world, because it’s easy to forget just what we are all about.

“The world of the imagination has always been essential to human beings, but they’ve never known just what to do with it. Sometimes they want to live there entirely, and others times they avoid it completely. They reward those who create it in books and music, and yet they fear these artists of the imagination as well, even doing them great harm. Throughout history, the imagination has been denounced as well as celebrated. Each one of us knows about those times when we were welcome to bring happiness, and also about those times when we were blamed for all kinds of evil that we did not create, in fact, could not create because of what we are.

“This ambiguity is part of human nature, and we ourselves embody part of the struggle. Is the world a place that truly is as it appears, or is there more to the universe than what eyes see and ears hear on any particular day? Do good and evil really exist, or are they simply words that mean nothing? Do human being really understand themselves, or are there mysteries within them that defy explanation?

“On our best days, we all realize that we are simply the imaginary embodiment of that struggle to know and comprehend, and our part is to play the unseen, the unknown, that which is not understood. We allow the human imagination to play with the reality that escapes science and math and college courses and glib experts. We are the night, the darkness and the fear. We do not exist, but human imagination needs us desperately to try and take ahold of the incomprehensible.

“Particularly painful for many of us are the escalating attacks of religious people on the realm of the imagination. We have suffered from those who see the imagination as a gateway of evil, rather than a canvas on which human nature itself paints the picture. We have been blamed for violence and even death, things we would not even know were it not for human beings investing us with those actions in their own minds. It is as if some religious people actually believe that we exist—that we are real and were somehow a threat to them.

“When I see someone explaining the evil influence of a pumpkin, it’s both a cause for laughter and for sadness. How can anyone, particularly one who says they believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, believe that mummies and werewolves and ghosts and witches hold any spiritual or actual power? One of the best imaginative writers, C.S. Lewis, who created all of the Narnia characters, was convinced that God gave human beings the realm of the imagination to be a sort of classroom to teach them, in a childish form, the spiritual nature of the universe and reality itself. In allowing them to create the imaginative realm, they were learning to reflect on reality and see its true character, and to see their own character as well. It was a way to see that human beings are the imaginative creations of God himself, and they reflect both his nature and their own fallen, rebellious nature.

“I believe it was Frank Peretti who recently said that from his childhood fascination with monsters and ghouls he learned to live with his own physical deformity and the isolation and rejection it brought. He learned to love himself, and to find compassion towards other hurting people, by watching Frankenstein and Creature of the Black Lagoon. How many children have come to see spiritual reality through Narnia?  To know Jesus through Aslan? What lessons of good and evil are being taught right now by Harry Potter? Whether they be fairy tales or silly horror movies, the imaginative realm is a reflection of human beings’ ability to create their own worlds, with realities that reflect the depth of nature and the realities of good, evil, hope and redemption.

“For all the abuse we have suffered at the hands of those who believe Halloween is somehow the real world ( and that includes those humans who think themselves to be vampires and spend hours looking for ghosts), we must never forget those who celebrate our world purely and simply, without making it into an idol of fear or devotion. On our night, millions of children will enter into the world of the imagination and be enriched by doing so. They will safely sojourn in a world slightly different from their own and return better for it. Teenagers who take time off from being so serious to play and be children again. And certainly adults who continue to love the world of the imagination and return there often. To these person we owe our continued joy.

“So I propose a toast: to every little boy who goes to sleep dreaming of Hogwarts. To every mother who reads Narnia to her children. To every teenager devouring The Lord of the Rings. To every grandmother who reads her granddaughter a ghost story. To every parent who shares their favorite scary movie with their child. To every young writer who writes the stories in which we live. To those who know to life, to jump and to delight at Sleepy Hollow. To all who give us this one night of frightful fun and remain little boys and girls, A TOAST!!”


  1. Buford Hollis says

    And three cheers for all who bang their head and make the “sign of the horns” while they listen to that DEVIL MUSIC! Whose religiosity was formed by the likes of Coven, Black Sabbath and AC/DC, Slayer and Deicide, or Marilyn Manson. Who dream of barbaric altars upon which naked women cower in chains before well-muscled demons painted by Boris Vallejo or Frank Frazetta.

    • Hey, I like a good Frazetta cover as much as the next sword and sorcery fangirl!

      And I can’t really laugh at the metallers, because I was that 80s teenager listening to The Cure, The Sisters of Mercy, The Cult (even when they started off as Southern Death Cult), Depeche Mode (from the time they were five nice young men from Basildon through the drugs overdoses, leather skirts and other assorted weirdnesses years), Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Damned, the Stranglers, the Smiths, etc. etc. etc.

      A song for the occasion? Take it away, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown!

      • Bless you, Martha. If you’re the Martha I’m thinking of (Irish Catholic Martha), I fondly remember your posts during Michael Spencer’s days as the host of this site. I miss Michael, his sense, and sensibility. It’s nice to see it carried on through his long-time commenters.

        • I think I must be the Martha you mean 🙂

          God rest Michael, I miss him as well. Prayers for his family and the repose of his soul, particularly at this season.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Martha from Ireland was a headbanger?

        • Eric Hinkle says

          I’m more surprised to hear that you can get something other than harp music in Ireland.

          Though I suppose you could try doing heavy metal with an Irish harp.

  2. I don’t know if I caught this post of Michael Spencer’s the first time around. Great writing.

    That C.S. Lewis certainly was a wise man, huh.

    To all those people who value and do not fear our imaginations, a toast: “Happy Halloween!”

  3. Hear, hear!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Try reading this with “This is Halloween” from Nightmare Before Christmas playing in the background. Really adds to the impact.

  4. Tim Becker says

    Thank you for posting classic iMonk! Michael influenced my thinking as much as anyone I’ve ever read.

  5. And don’t forget that one Halloween night when Orson Welles had everybody believing we were being invaded by Martians. Now, broadcasts of “War of the Worlds” has become a Halloween tradition, and I’m listening to it on the radio right now. LOL.

  6. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Four lines from a famous post-Halloween strip by Sparky Schulz:

    Charlie Brown: “Well, Halloween has come and gone.”

    Linus: “So it has.”

    Charlie Brown: “Did the Great Pumpkin bring you lots of nice presents?”

    Linus: “Shut up.”