Monday, November 4, 2013

My Secular Celebration Of A Religious Holiday

A Quick Review and Update
Two years ago I wrote a post that attempted to help Christians have a reasoned approach to whether or not to celebrate Halloween. When I wrote it I was coming out of a mindset that was completely against any expression of the holiday in the Christian's life. My writing the post was my way of trying to approach the issue from a logical point of view rather than a traditional (for me) point of view. I was attempting to test the tradition by logic, and I came to the conclusion that the tradition was wrong.

Even though I came to that conclusion, because of my uneasiness with Halloween it still seemed awkward for me to participate in celebrations. In the last couple of years I have become more accustom to it, though. My wife and I have foster kids in our home and have had so much fun helping them pick out their costumes to go trick-or-treating. And as strange as it did feel to hand out candy to people dressed as characters from horror films, it was just as enjoyable to provide the sweet reward to the little kids in their princess and super-hero costumes. I realized that next year I need to make sure I get full-sized candy bars for the truly creative costumes too. Its been fun and I can honestly say that I'm not as uncomfortable with Halloween as I was before, but I still have a way to go.



How Could I Do This?
I have noticed over the last couple of decades that holidays are becoming more and more secularized with every year. This, of course, is what allows the Christian to participate in Halloween activities without actually giving into the occultic origins or placing their families (or themselves) in spiritual jeopardy. Those of us who do choose to celebrate Halloween are dependent on the secularization of the holiday. In my previous post I argued that as long as there are no occultic practices taking place, attending parties and dressing up was perfectly acceptable for the Christian to do.

I Missed Something
But there is an angle that I only mentioned in passing in two years ago. As a Christian who sees the secularization of Christmas and Easter all around, I have to back up for a minute. It seems that with my secular celebration of Halloween, I am encouraging the continued separation of holidays from their roots. As a result I began to wonder if it is responsible for me to continue to celebrate a religious holiday in a secular way, especially if it is not one of my religious holidays. What should I do with my expectation of secularization of one holiday (Halloween) but not others (Christmas and Easter)? If I want my holidays to remain true to their roots and retain their meaning, how can I promote the secularization of another- if I want to celebrate a holiday divorced from its roots that I don't believe are true, how can I expect others to not celebrate my holidays divorced of the roots that they do not believe are true?

A Threat To Consistency
Those who have read my blog for quite some time know that I focus a lot on consistency (see here and here for the primary posts). Internal consistency is a way that we test if a worldview accurately reflects reality (is true). So anytime that I see a possible inconsistency in my worldview, I will investigate it and either discover how there actually is not an inconsistency, or I will concede and change one of the inconsistent views. Someone who wishes to falsify my worldview by pointing to inconsistency could see my secular celebration of a religious holiday as a certain example of inconsistency. The option before me is to either continue to celebrate a secularized version of Halloween and watch my own religious holidays become the worship of materialism, or I can maintain the original meaning in my holidays at the expense of any participation in Halloween.

A further inconsistency could be located in my view of tolerance. I often complain that the meaning of "tolerance" has gone beyond "respectfully disagreeing" to "acceptance and celebration." One who wishes to point to another inconsistency in my view could also ask why I complain that people who support questionable views and life styles require me to accept and even celebrate them, yet I expect them to accept and celebrate my views (specifically related to Christmas and Easter). The charge here also extends into hypocrisy.

Do I dare change my view back to that of my previous tradition in light of these new revelations or is there a way that the claims of inconsistency can be undermined?

Victims of the Culture
As a defender of Christianity I often address the claim that all religions/worldviews are the same. If I was to grant that the above inconsistencies were valid, logically I would have to first concede this point that I vigorously argue against. The idea that I must treat all religious holidays in the exact same way is grounded in the assumption that they are all ultimately of the same source. While they all do fall under the broad category of "religious," not all religions are the same, thus their holidays do not have the same roots. Further since not all religions can be true, the holidays based on these two further categories (true and false) may be grouped together and should be treated the same within their groups but different respective of the other group (Christmas and Easter the same; Christmas and Halloween different).

Consistency in my view is found in my discrimination between true and false worldviews and their resulting holidays. It is not inconsistent for me to desire that what is true be celebrated, while what is false not be celebrated. It makes sense to retain the roots and emphasize the meaning of the holidays that find their origins in the worldview that accurately reflects reality. Of course, that makes sense for someone who values truth over opinion.

The reason why it appears that I am being inconsistent is because our culture has been trained to look at the truth-value of all worldviews, religions, views, life styles, etc. as either equally valid or unknown and unknowable. If someone is to think that I am being inconsistent, then they have accepted one of these. Both options self-destruct. If all views are valid, then it is also valid that no views are valid. If no views can be known to be true, then that view cannot be known to be true either.

Conclusion
It has been quite a change in my views from separating myself completely from Halloween to allowing myself and my family to participate. It has been a challenge of allowing reason to overcome my emotionally held tradition. It almost appeared that there was a good argument for me to return to my traditional view, but we have seen that such arguments are dependent upon the denial of either logic or knowledge. The conclusion of my original post still stands and there is no inconsistency in the secularization of Halloween along side the celebration of the original meaning of Christmas and Easter. I will continue to celebrate Christmas and Easter as Christian holidays, and I will continue to celebrate Halloween in the secular context. I can rest in the fact that my worldview remains consistent as I enjoy the experiences of my kids' dressing up so I can get my hands on more candy.

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