Thinking through Halloween

October 30, 2009 — 3 Comments

cross-pumpkinIt’s that time of year again — you know, the time when Christians debate the pros and cons of Halloween.

I must admit that I’m not all that big a fan of Halloween. Pumpkins are fine. And I’ve even been a scarecrow once or twice in my adult life. But times have changed a lot since I was a kid.

When I was young, my brother and I used to love dressing up and going door-to-door on our country road, collecting all kinds of candy from the neighbors. Of course, that was then — and this is now. The big difference is that people in our community actually knew our neighbors. We visited with each other. We cared for each other during tough times. We shared meals and exchanged homegrown vegetables and homemade jams.

These days the busyness of life keeps many of us from knowing our neighbors on a personal level — or perhaps even wanting to be known.

As parents we are faced with more serious challenges today. If you watch the news at all, you certainly understand that parents just can’t be too cautious about the safety of their kids. Gangbangers, drug dealers, and sex offenders too often find themselves nestled in the middle of quiet and unassuming neighborhoods . . . so much so that, at least for my family, traditional trick-or-treating is simply not a viable option.

I enjoy seeing kids in costumes. Adults? Not so much. And I really don’t care at all for scary costumes. I think some of the school and church harvest carnivals provide a good family-friendly alternative — if they’re actually held on Halloween. Too often I think these events just provide an opportunity for layering the candy-collecting craze (or should I say calorie-collecting?).

How do I feel about Halloween? Well, that’s not exactly an easy question for me to answer. I suppose it has much to do with what it means to you. If it’s about death, devils, and demons, I really want nothing to do with it. If it’s about seeing kids dress up in fun costumes and having some family fun — particularly in a safe, church or school setting — then I think it can be OK.

I guess my real concern lies in seeing our schools focus more on Halloween than Christmas. And, yes, that’s definitely happening in many places. We don’t seem to mind legislating Jesus out of our schools, but the devil is always welcome.

In some ways though, I must confess that I think Halloween is probably one of the biggest ways in which believers have become a part of the world rather than just people passing through it. And as I listen to myself, I suppose my own seeming ambivalence underscores the significance of the issue.

The truth is that as believers, we’ve become pretty good at developing ways to share the Gospel during this hotly contested time of year. Through the Pumpkin Patch Parable, special tracts, and outreach events, many churches have worked to make the best of it.

However, one thought keeps coming to me: Just as a recovering alcoholic shouldn’t hang out in a bar, a growing believer shouldn’t flirt with evil. And no matter how we dress it up, Halloween is at its core a celebration of darkness.

1 John 1:5b says, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

Hmmm . . . maybe I need to spend more time being in the Light than looking for ways to excuse playing in the dark.

But boy, how good we’ve gotten at justifying that!

IT’S YOUR TURN!

  • I’m really interested. What are your thoughts on Halloween?
  • If you’re a Christian, do you ‘observe’ the day — and if so, how?

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3 responses to Thinking through Halloween

  1. 

    I’ll bite 🙂

    I think that part of the reason why Halloween is so worldly (especially to the protestant church) is because we don’t celebrate “All Saints Day” on Nov. 1st – which is reasonable, because protestants and catholics have very different views on saints, death, and other things that I am NOT going into in this blog post.

    Last year, I went to a funeral on Nov. 1st, and saw all the pictures of one catholic parishes relatives and friends who had passed away placed on the alter. It seemed to me that they really used this time to remember those who have passed away, who believed that Jesus was the Christ and their Savior, and how the church is eternal, and that they will see them again. All Saints Day is a holy day of obligation for Catholics, so the Catholic Church thinks this topic is a pretty big deal (as the eternal church should be to all Christians).

    Like I said, I’m not going into the obvious differences in the catholic/baptist church….but just wanted to say this…. I think that if as Christians we all remembered (either the day after or not) by either devotion or service, the connection that we do have to all Christian beleivers and to our Christ in heaven (also remembering the maryters of our faith), that we would actually be celebrating the entire holiday. It might change our perspective on Halloween a little bit.

  2. 

    Good insights, Rachel. There are definitely lots of thoughts and opinions on this topic. And some opinions are quite strong, as you know. I think you make some good points. Thanks for taking time to chime in. This is always a fascinating topic of discussion.

  3. 

    I love Halloween, my kids love Halloween, and I think we, as adults, have taken the joy out of it for our kids by overthinking it and being overly concerned about the dangers.

    I am sad that so many people have chosen to “opt out” that when my kids trick-or-treat, there are very few neighbors that actually answer the door. I think it’s a great way for you to meet your neighbors and get to know them.

    I will always remember the joy my son had when he was little, running from house to house so fast that we couldn’t keep up with him. Almost everyone was home and he collectied tons of candy. My daughter who is 5 years younger has never been able to experience that. Last year we walked our neighborhood for what seemed like hours and collected very little, and she was so sad.

    Halloween is about the joy of dressing up, the joy of getting free candy, and the joy of running around the neighborhood with your friends.

    I say we should set our fears aside and give Halloween back to our kids and lem them run wild, have fun, and scare their friends!

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