Archive for October 2015

Is it just joking?   Leave a comment

Halloween ? Should we or shouldn’t we? Some will rise to decry any observation of our second biggest commercial holiday, others will join my grandson in explaining to me “its just joking”…as he looked at the scary decorations for the celebration! I also heard from a mother, out for a walk in their neighborhood with their toddler. She saw the various decorations for Halloween appearing in peoples yards. Amongst them were a selection of heads impaled on sticks and similar gory offerings. I just wonder, she remarked, if these are appropriate given the activities of ISIS around the world, that have received so much recent publicity. A couple of years ago I wrote this to suggest some ways as to how we might think through our approach and I share it once again this year and I hope you might find it helpful.

As a pastor, how should I answer those members of my church family who receive a range of messages from, instructions to avoid the celebrations at all cost to just enjoy an innocent time of fun for children. Realizing that I grew up far closer to the scene of the origination of the festival, one that began literally thousands of years ago, I can see that my perspective may be different than those of my adopted home here in the USA. So I decided to do a little research to ensure that when I offered my opinion, I was able to support my feelings with fact.

Two resources proved to be very helpful, the first an excellent article on the website History.com and the second an blogpost from Jim Daly, both seem to set out balanced and helpful information to help frame the approach we should have as Christians.

I concluded  that both ends of the spectrum would benefit from some thoughtful adjustment of their polemic. For those preaching a message of doom and destruction on to participants, should note the unique evolution of the festival here in the United States so helpfully set out in the historical article.

“By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-
centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment.
Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague
Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town
leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday
directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the
fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home,
where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the
centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a
relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration”.

To oppose with such vehemence what has become a community festival centered on small children risks obstructing the Christian message of the value of community. However it is undeniable that, albeit distant, the historical background of the festival has clear links with evil and the practice of dark and demonic religion. It is clear that although many children are dressed in cute and wonderful costumes, some appear as characters such as witches and other representations of death and destruction. These unavoidably point back to the dangerous aspects of the holidayʼs history and run the
risk of making an unhealthy connection between evil and fun. The scripture warns us that the evil one is at his most dangerous when he “masquerades as an angel of light” ( 2 Cor 11:14). For us to detract from the enormous danger of such things must be avoided at all costs.

Jim Daly warns us, in addition, of the growing danger of the glorification of violence in our culture.

Christian or not, it is high time to turn away from the dark, gory and horror-filled side of
the holiday. Itʼs always been time, but the confluence of culture and recent current
events raises this matter to a new level.

There is absolutely nothing entertaining or redeeming about hatchet wielding villains
parading in costume or front-lawn displays featuring blood spattered body parts.

My suggestion therefore that, along with everything we do as Christians, we take the time to ask ourselves a couple of questions. Would I be happy for Jesus to accompany us on our trick or treating expedition dressed the way we are ? If Jesus was to visit our home tonight would I be happy for Him to encounter the decorations in my front yard? The answer to those questions and others like them will help ensure that we have a uniquely Christian approach to the holiday and one which will may give us the chance to share truth with our friends.

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Posted October 13, 2015 by jolm15 in Uncategorized