The Addams Family at Church: A Halloween Parable

When I was a kid, my family enjoyed watching The Addams Family on TV. The show centered on a family that was full of misfits: parents Gomez and Morticia Addams, their children Wednesday and Pugsley, close family members Uncle Fester and Grandmama, their butler Lurch, and Pugsley’s pet octopus, Aristotle.

The schtick of the show was to highlight the oddities of the family against the backdrop of “normal” society. For example, the mother, Morticia, arranged roses by cutting the buds off and arranging the stems into a lovely “stem bouquet”. Family dinners included such delicacies as gopher loaf and salamander sandwiches. Simply put, the family was a group of social outcasts.

No matter how they were misfits in the outside world, when they were in the Addams’ family home, they all belonged. Addams’ family dinners were odd, but every weirdo was welcome at the table.

We are at a moment in time when technology has allowed us to finetune specifically where we want to belong. Algorithms on social media and television pay attention to our likes and dislikes and adjust accordingly. Signs in our front yards tell others who we are voting for and point to which neighbors are on the same side as us. At nearly every store we shop at, our purchases are tracked so companies can know how to stock their shelves. Every interaction seems to be followed with a quick, three minute survey to provide feedback and allow the company to adjust accordingly.

Companies and institutions spend billions each year to tap into the innate human need for belonging. The message the world is sending is that belonging comes from a sense of sameness. Products, TV shows, and even organizations are perceived as safe places to invest your time and money based on your customized worldview. We are moving more and more toward these places and spaces that feel like comfortable reflections of our preferences.

But then there is the church. The church is more like the Addams family than the modern algorithm culture. In fact, many in society see the church the same way we all watched the Addams family home; as a museum full of weirdos.

While some might bristle at the label “weirdo” or the Addams family metaphor itself, I believe that on its best days, the church can be like the Addams family. I am proudly part of the United Methodist Church, where we say “Open hearts, open minds, open doors” and wrestle each day to try to make that motto more true.

The Addams family rejected outside norms and lived the way they felt was right. In Romans 12:2, the author urges Christians “Do not be conformed to this world..” Practicing our faith at church isn’t supposed to be an algorithm-based experience. It’s supposed to connect us with God and each other.

Regardless of their social status outside the home, Addams family members fit in and were loved at home. We aren’t supposed to be alike. We were created not to fit an imagined norm, but as unique individuals with different gifts, as stated in I Corinthians 12. I believe our differences are strengths when we join them together. Our need for belonging often leads us to gather with those who are similar to us. But what I love about church is the way the church eschews society’s search for sameness and gathers together people who are different. In my ministry, I ask questions and listen to people’s stories. It is an honor to receive these stories and learn from those who have other perspectives and backgrounds.

No matter the schedule, the Addams family always gathered at the table to eat together. The communion metaphor seems almost painfully obvious here. What I love about communion in the United Methodist Church is that everyone is welcome at the table. The person kneeling next to me might have a worldview with a contrasting algorithm. They might shop at another store, vote for another political party, and live life in a customized world that is colored opposite mine. But the altar rail is the great equalizer. We are both gathering together at the same table to receive the same food despite what our outside world looks like.

It’s October and the stores are selling costumes and spooky products. As you go out into the world, I challenge you to think about the Addams family and where belonging is for you and the weirdo shopping next to you.

-Rev. Sarah Boyette

As a special Halloween earworm, here’s the Addams’ family song:

They’re creepy and they’re kooky
Mysterious and spooky
They’re all together ooky
The Addams family
Their house is a museum
When people come to see ’em
They really are a screaming
The Addams family


So, put a witch’s shawl on
A broomstick you can crawl on
We’re gonna play a call on
The Addams family
They’re creepy and they’re kooky
Mysterious and spooky
They’re all together ooky
The Addams family
The Addams family

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