Saturday, October 30, 2010

Just Another Day...

This post was originally posted last year for Halloween. I decided to post it again, but with a few updates.

Theologian Kenneth Samples wrote an article about Halloween and recorded an episode of Straight Thinking about it. Here's the episode:

Download the MP3 here.

My thoughts?

 Even though Halloween is not what is used to be (celebrated by the majority as an occultic holiday), I find myself still trying to figure out whether to recognize it or not. My family never participated in Halloween celebrations when I was a kid, so participation is foreign to me. Generally, I'm not a fan of the holiday because it uses way too many dark images and figures that are meant to instill fear in people. Fear is an emotion that stimulates the pain center of the brain. Any time that the pain center is stimulated, it is because something is happening that needs to stop before further damage is done to the person. Disturbing or fearful images and experiences effect some people more than others, but it is not always easy to determine who will be affected or how (not everyone who is affected will admit it, or if they do, to what extent). That is what repels me from the holiday.

Here's what I do enjoy. Kids dressing up in cute costumes to get candy (heck, we make them dress up in stupid costumes for school plays and family photos- without getting candy!). I don't have a problem with adults dressing up in original costumes to show their creativity (I don't like that the creativity is used in dark fashions most of the time, but it is still creativity nevertheless, also the fact that I don't like it doesn't make it wrong). I really don't have a problem with costumes that make me laugh (check out the "illegal alien" costume). The pumpkin carving contests that come around this time of year are becoming quite entertaining too (sorry).

I recognize that many people still do celebrate Halloween as being tied to the occult. These people do practice witchcraft, divination, and devil worship. But they do this stuff year around, Halloween is just the time for them to get attention for it.

If a Halloween party has people who are explicitly practicing occult rituals, then it is not a good idea to go there. It is your responsibility to know what is going on at a party. If you are aware of occult practices, and still choose to remain, you are inviting trouble. If you find that a party is nothing but costumes and carnival games, there is no reason to be scared of it (there is nothing unbiblical or anti-biblical about wearing costumes or playing games- unless they are explicit in their anti-biblical or anti-Christian message).

Some Christians argue that the fact that some people still practice occult rituals is why Halloween should not be even recognized by Christians. I don't agree with that. Every religious holiday has a pagan origin (Halloween just maintained its roots longer than the others), and to stay consistent with that view (in other words: "not be hypocritical") no holidays (including Christmas) should be recognized. On the other hand, other Christians argue that since Halloween has fallen so far from its roots, it may be recognized by Christians without any concession to the occult. However, I hear these same Christians complain about how Christmas and Easter have been so secularized that they have lost their meaning- some even say that someone who is not a Christian should not even celebrate these holidays (I guess in an effort to maintain the Christian meaning of the holidays). The problem I see with that is that all these holidays have lost their original meaning in the collective consciousness of American society. Some people argue that this is why Halloween can be celebrated, yet hold that regardless of the secularization, non-Christians should not celebrate the other holidays. I just don't see how someone could hold these views and still remain consistent.

I've heard a lot of Christians argue that by allowing our kids to go "trick 'r treat"ing or opening our doors to these kids we are giving into the devil, and will eventually be led into satan worship and other occult practices. I only have one question: Where are all the witches and warlocks, then? Those of you that grew up "trick 'r treat"ing; are all adults now and are not one iota closer to occult practices now than you were then, right? If this had one bit of truth to it, then the vast majority of Americans would be occultists. The evidence just does not exist to support this "slippery slope".

In my mind, I see this whole "AAHHHH! Its Satan in the flesh!" attitude as actually working against Christianity. If you want to argue that Halloween is slowly moving kids and America, in general, away from Christ, that's fine; but you need to find a more sophisticated argument- perhaps one that includes yourself as the mechanism that is causing the problem. When Christians turn up their noses at cute kids in innocent costumes, it sends a message to our neighbors that we are "holier than thou"- not exactly an invitation to hear the Gospel. I mean, have you ever been attracted to or wanted to listen to someone who obnoxiously told you that they were "better" than you? When people see this attitude in Christians they are turned off and don't even want to be around us, much less, hear what we have to offer them. Jesus did not tell the tax collectors or the prostitutes to change their ways before he would speak with them; he met them on their own turf. The question is not "What Would Jesus Do?" but "What Did Jesus Do?"

The more that Christians act in such a repugnant way around Halloween, the more people will distance themselves from the Gospel- that is how the argument (and "satanic" strategy) is carried out. Christians will be used as a weapon against what they know to be true until they wake up and realize that they are being used. Are you scared of being influenced by some demonic force because of participation in an event? Maybe you should first consider that you already are being influenced in such a sophisticated way (described above) that it would be next to impossible to detect (that's the strategy of a devious- and successful- war general).

Keep in mind that this, in no way, should be taken as my overall endorsement of other things that kids may do that have occultic roots but seem "innocent" to some people. The particular example that I have in mind when I state this is Harry Potter. I do think that kids being fed occultic literature is dangerous, especially when they begin to act it out. The critical difference between acting out casting of spells and "trick r treat"ing is that the kids normally act as the character they are dressed as. Of course, if the character is one who regularly casts spells, and the kid is acting it out, then I do see an issue. But no inconsistency exists by allowing the kids to act as Megatron, Ironman, or Stitch.

It is quite dangerous to lump Harry Potter and Halloween into the same category- this will force consistency and either isolation or compromise. In this case, if we avoid one, we must avoid the other (isolation); if we avoid one, we must avoid the other (isolation). Isolation is not acceptable for the Christian in light of the Great Commission. Compromise is not acceptable in light of the fact that our behavior mirrors our beliefs (which would be ironically confirming beliefs contrary to what we claim).

Christians need to carefully use their minds when approaching this subject from a Biblical perspective. We need to make sure that when or if we decide to stop or start participating in Halloween celebrations, it is for sound reasons and remain consistent with our other decisions.

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