Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Scares Me

Halloween scares me. It scares me because I can't make a firm decision one way or another about whether I should participate in any way as a Christian. During my childhood, I alternated years of costume wearing, only wearing Biblical costumes and stoic avoidance of acknowledging the day was even happening. It seems my parents were just as confused as I am about how to handle Halloween.

Every year, I am presented with deeper and darker tales about how evil it is and how its celebration has Pagan roots and how some of my friends will not be participating in something Occult-ish. You may have firm convictions regarding this. For that, I envy you. (Yes, it's as okay to envy your convictions as it is to covet someone's prayers.)

Here's my problem with those arguments: what about Christmas Trees and Easter Bunnies? Every time I encounter an article or argument about the evil origins of Halloween, I'm smacked upside the face with the equally evil origins of Easter bunnies and Christmas Trees. (Seriously, start digging....)

And yet, many of the same people who are living, dead set against Halloween because of its Pagan origins, decorate cakes with bunnies at Easter, decorate and hunt eggs and bring evergreens into their homes each year at Christmas. (Yes, I said living dead in discussing Halloween)

And the argument is, of course, that those activities have been appropriated by Christians. We have our own spiritually acceptable ways of looking at Christmas decorations. Even the fertility symbol that is the egg and the Easter bunny have been adopted as representations of the empty tomb. (Actually, I can't remember why we justify the bunny.)

As far as I know, we aren't called to celebrate Christ's birth but we are called to remember His death, burial and resurrection. And we pervert the memory with a bunch of silly antics that, upon closer inspection, turn out to be not so silly and all the more disturbing.

If we must have some traditional activities to participate in on Easter, the last thing we should be doing is eating HAM! We should be eating lamb with bitter herbs and either actually spreading its blood on our door posts or at least doing it symbolically and thanking the Lord that He became our Passover Lamb. Has it ever occurred to anyone that the Person who fulfilled the Mosaic law might be offended by our flouting it on the day we celebrate His rising from dying for our inability to follow such laws?

But this same Lord spoke to Paul about all of us Gentiles and explained that circumcision was unnecessary and why it was okay to share in salvation while still being unclean in our choice of foods.

If we can choose to ignore the original meaning behind symbols for holidays we consider to be Holy, perhaps we can choose to ignore the meanings on another day. (Or again, maybe we should drop them all.) I agree, worshipping and fantasizing dark spirits or using superstitions like lit, carved pumpkins to "protect" ourselves from evil is a bad idea when we actually should be relying only on the Blood of Christ. I leave those arguments for people who have more ambiguity about those things.

On the other hand, carving up a pumpkin and putting a candle inside is an endeavor innocent enough in itself. (Though some of my friends shy even away from doing that. But Christmas trees are ok. Seriously, look into the original reason people brought the trees inside in the first place.) And let's not forget that Jesus was, by any evidence, not born on December 25th. Or even at that time of year. That date was chosen simply because it DID correspond with a dark holiday already being celebrated. How's that for situational ethics?

So, let me say, I've come to the conclusion that however I feel about Halloween, I must also feel about most of my traditional, cultural expressions at Christmas and Easter. Intellectually and spiritually, if I must give up one, I must give up the others as well. And since I've not come to the conclusion that is necessary, I choose to participate in some things that go on at Halloween.

I choose to participate in a cultural expression where we get to dress up. There is no other culturally acceptable time during the year where so many adults put on costumes and get so playful. I'd be in favor of costume parties once a month, not tied to any spiritual overtones... just a chance to pretend and be playful.

We don't dress up to confuse the spirits. We dress up because it's fun. We dress up to amuse and impress each other with our creativity. My baby will be an octopus and I will be the ocean as I carry her this year. How cool is that?!

I choose to dress up and to minimize my children's exposure to candy. In reality, the need to have gobs and gobs of candy is the scariest part of Halloween for me. I mean, my family was given a certain deliverance from obesity and gluttony by choosing to avoid processed foods and refined sugars, yet, you all say that part is harmless. Celebrating the macabre? I'll leave that to your conscience and your own blog.

I choose to forego ghosts and ghouls and the decidedly nightmarish things associated with Halloween. I choose to pray for those in a lost and dying world. I choose to do that on more than one night per year. I also choose to be in the world but not of it. I try to live according to my conscience, the conviction the Holy Spirit brings.

I thank you all who remind me to be careful in my behavior each year as this date approaches because I would hate to continue to participate thoughtlessly. But I also urge you not to fall prey to superstition yourself and allow Satan to own a day of the year because of fear. Why does he get October 31st? Why does he get costumes and candy?

For those who argue that church Fall Festivals and Trunk or Treat programs are simply teaching our children that they need something just because the world is having it, you're right. I don't think we should have be having alternatives simply because the world is having something. But on the other hand, cultural appropriation seems to be something we're fairly comfortable with in most situations.


Abigail said...

This post upsets me.
A lot.

Let me just say that I am pagan, and I read you blog and I love almost everything you write, your Christianity never bothered me. Until now.

Your complete lack of understanding of the pagan holidays and your slandering of their original intentions is really offensive to me. And I am finding it difficult to not be upset.

Yule (the Solsitice, Dec 22, etc) is not "dark" (well, it is in that it is the longest night of the year, but I somehow don't think that is what you meant) Yule is the celebration of surviving through the winter, and that after that day the days begin to get longer again, it is the celebration of the returning of the light and hope. (in many traditions it's celebration closer to your Christian resurrection stories actually)

Haloween (Samhain (pronounces 'sowen')) is also a celebration of life in a way. It was seen as the end of the pagan year, and as with the secular new year it is also seen as a time of new beginnings, Samhain is also believed to be when the veil between the other world and here is thinnest and people celebrated the memory of loved ones past (think of a traditional Irish wake where they throw a big party and talk about the passed relative) it has NOTHING to do with Satan, Satan is a purely Christian construct.

I could go on, but if you can't even educate yourself fully before making a post, maybe it's not worth it.

MamaHolly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MamaHolly said...

Abigail, I'm so sorry to upset you. I really envisioned offending fellow Christians and, frankly never thought of offending anyone else. Sure, I'm not terribly educated, that's kinda the point of my post.

Unfortunately, you have to know that me being Christian and you being pagan will require us to disagree on some points, eventually. I will apologize for using the word pagan to represent anything ancient not centered on Jesus Christ. I also used the word dark to represent anything but a reliance on Jesus' blood, for salvation. And Satan, from our Christian perspective is the leader of those who does what he can to distract our focus on Christ.

And no, I didn't do thorough research on the history of pagan holidays. I'm mostly just bumbling through this experience of Motherhood, aloud. No research required. All training is on the job. Unfortunately, the same can be said for blogging.

I try to live with integrity and conviction. I'm always willing to learn more. I will warn you however that my allegiance lies with the creator, not the created.

Our "construct" of Satan is not that one must officially worship him knowingly for him to be at work. His aim is to detract from the work of God. Trust me, he wreaks havoc
in the vicinity of our own pews.

That said, Pagan is a religion (as far as I understand it) and any religion which does not have Jesus as the center will be considered of other gods, which by our Christian construct, would have to be evil. (As is a love of money and gluttony). That being said, our beef is with powers and principalities not with individuals. I would hope we can still learn from one another.

Abigail said...

we will indeed have to agree to disagree, i simply cannot understand somebody who would believe the Ghandi was evil.

to me evil is in the actions, not the belief. i have seen many, many Christians who do evil/bad things, and man many non Christians who do good, yet by your standards are considered evil because they do not believe in JC.

by your definition, even though they do bad and cause a lot of suffering and harm, the Christians are the only good ones of the bunch. and frankly i cannot even fathom how you justify that.

Mary said...

I have to say I agree with Abigail about the definition of evil. Romans says that "none can do good", but not that they're evil, because they can't do good. I believe that people choose to do evil things, but are not themselves usually evil. They are in need of a loving Savior.
Evil, I think, is actions, not a person.

I also think it's very important to do research and find out the origins and intent before talking about subjects I don't know about. I will start to talk about something that I know little to nothing about, and have to be careful, because I don't want to say something erroneous, especially if it could impact how I'm viewed - as a Christian. I also don't want to be called on the carpet for talking about that which I know nothing or have wrong facts - just like birth, vaccines, etc. That's a reason I don't talk alot about vaccines, because I haven't done much research on it myself. I've listened to others I trust have done research, but I can't own that information for myself, so, as a general rule, choose not to discuss it much, and try to stick to points that I have learned for myself.

(((LOVE Holly)))

MamaHolly said...

Ah, Mary, you have said well what I was going to say about people being good or evil.

That said, I researched enough over the years to learn that many of our secular holiday practices are pagan in origin. Not any deeper, mind you. Just enough to know that Christmas trees weren't a Christian idea. I learned enough to say, as I did in my post, that IF I am going to forego Halloween for those purposes, then if I am a person of integrity, I must forego so much more.

I opened by saying it scares me and confuses me and I don't have all the answers. This is what I've decided this year. And, as my parents did, I reserve the right to learn more and act according to my convictions as I grow.

JeniferRiddle said...

(You know I dress my kids up for Zombie Walks. You know I strive to do walk a bit more like Jesus.)

I don't know a lot about the origins of most of our holiday customs. I am learning and that's the best I have to offer. If I were to have written a blog about Halloween, it would sound much like yours. Abigail, if I get it wrong, educate me kindly and with love as I would you about my religion. :)

As a Mom and a Christian, it's hard to raise our children in today's society. <3

And...I think its perfectly acceptable to blog about your thoughts and feelings, concerns and worries.

JeniferRiddle said...

I found this interesting....

"What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It's God we are answerable to--all the way from life to death and everything in between--not each other. That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other."

Leanna said...

Mary, you are wrong...Romans 3:10-11 (which you quoted) says, "there is no righteous, not even one...there is no one who does good, there is not even one." Evil is part of our inherent sin nature. We are born sinners. Period. Isiah even says that our attempts are righteousness are as "filthy rags" (literal translation is "clothes a woman used to catch her menstrual flow"-yes, filthy indeed) Yes, we needed a loving Savior to save us for the just punishment for our sin. IF we were "basically good" (humanism), we would not need a Savior.

Anonymous said...

Some people take things WAY TOO seriously! Halloween isn't anything dark unless you make it that way.My Christian church celebrates Halloween with a BIG fall party but doesn't allow any "Scarey"or "evil"looking costumes(witches,vampires,etc.)The children dress-up in princess or Disney type characters & have cake walks, games, petting zoo & FUN FAMILY activities. Lighten up!