Early this fall I visited that ex-prison and found it suffered from museum-itis: No matter the horror, it’s hard to feel its enormity in a well-lit space with neatly ordered exhibits, just as it’s hard to fathom raging whitewater rapids in a Six Flags ride. The hyper-Halloween experience I did have came at Patarei prison, the former KGB detention center in Tallinn, Estonia. When the prison closed, guards took off, leaving behind medical and torture equipment, wall posters and graffiti, utensils and bedding—and it’s all dark, dark, dark in cells complete with creaky doors and whistling winds through window slits on the shore of the Gulf of Finland.
God has so blessed America that we can happily relegate such terror to Asia and Europe and say it can’t happen here—but it could if churches content themselves with blessing bicycles, bees, and yaks instead of teaching about sin and what happens to societies that encourage it rather than restrain it. We need to learn about real ghouls.