August 20, 2017

Pic & Post of the Week: Halloween Classic Edition

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Porch Rail Pumpkins

(Click on picture for larger image)

Note from CM: Because tomorrow is Halloween, our pic & poem post will become a pic & post article — excerpted from one of Michael Spencer’s classic Halloween pieces.

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The world of the imagination has always been essential to human beings, but they’ve never known just what to do with it. Sometimes they want to live there entirely, and others times they avoid it completely. They reward those who create it in books and music, and yet they fear these artists of the imagination as well, even doing them great harm. Throughout history, the imagination has been denounced as well as celebrated. Each one of us knows about those times when we were welcome to bring happiness, and also about those times when we were blamed for all kinds of evil that we did not create, in fact, could not create because of what we are.

This ambiguity is part of human nature, and we ourselves embody part of the struggle. Is the world a place that truly is as it appears, or is there more to the universe than what eyes see and ears hear on any particular day? Do good and evil really exist, or are they simply words that mean nothing? Do human being really understand themselves, or are there mysteries within them that defy explanation?

On our best days, we all realize that we are simply the imaginary embodiment of that struggle to know and comprehend, and our part is to play the unseen, the unknown, that which is not understood. We allow the human imagination to play with the reality that escapes science and math and college courses and glib experts. We are the night, the darkness and the fear. We do not exist, but human imagination needs us desperately to try and take hold of the incomprehensible.

Particularly painful for many of us are the escalating attacks of religious people on the realm of the imagination. We have suffered from those who see the imagination as a gateway of evil, rather than a canvas on which human nature itself paints the picture. We have been blamed for violence and even death, things we would not even know were it not for human beings investing us with those actions in their own minds. It is as if some religious people actually believe that we exist — that we are real and were somehow a threat to them.

When I see someone explaining the evil influence of a pumpkin, it’s both a cause for laughter and for sadness. How can anyone, particularly one who says they believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, believe that mummies and werewolves and ghosts and witches hold any spiritual or actual power? One of the best imaginative writers, C.S. Lewis, who created all of the Narnia characters, was convinced that God gave human beings the realm of the imagination to be a sort of classroom to teach them, in a childish form, the spiritual nature of the universe and reality itself. In allowing them to create the imaginative realm, they were learning to reflect on reality and see its true character, and to see their own character as well. It was a way to see that human beings are the imaginative creations of God himself, and they reflect both his nature and their own fallen, rebellious nature.

I believe it was Frank Peretti who recently said that from his childhood fascination with monsters and ghouls he learned to live with his own physical deformity and the isolation and rejection it brought. He learned to love himself, and to find compassion towards other hurting people, by watching Frankenstein and Creature of the Black Lagoon. How many children have come to see spiritual reality through Narnia? To know Jesus through Aslan? What lessons of good and evil are being taught right now by Harry Potter? Whether they be fairy tales or silly horror movies, the imaginative realm is a reflection of human beings’ ability to create their own worlds, with realities that reflect the depth of nature and the realities of good, evil, hope and redemption.

For all the abuse we have suffered at the hands of those who believe Halloween is somehow the real world ( and that includes those humans who think themselves to be vampires and spend hours looking for ghosts), we must never forget those who celebrate our world purely and simply, without making it into an idol of fear or devotion. On our night, millions of children will enter into the world of the imagination and be enriched by doing so. They will safely sojourn in a world slightly different from their own and return better for it. Teenagers who take time off from being so serious to play and be children again. And certainly adults who continue to love the world of the imagination and return there often. To these person we owe our continued joy.

Comments

  1. So agree with MS on this. Imagination is such a gift from God, and obviously a reflection of His image in us.
    Back when I was growing up, my parents were helpers in the high school youth group and they put on incredible Haloween haunted houses. The dummies around our house were there for days, and scared even us, at times, if we came around a corner and weren’t expecting it! I was much younger (my brother was in high school).
    Then, when raising our children, boy, were we the bad guys…because, wow, we let our kids dress up, carve jack-o-lanterns, go trick or treating, and all the rest. My kids had a blast, and the church really thought we were wrong, but, then came Christmas, and it got worse, cuz we had Santa in our Christmas decorations, etc.
    We left that church, needless to say.
    How could I tell my kids they can dress up 364 days a year, BUT not on Hallloween?!
    I’m thankful my children still have imaginations and creativity even in their adult lives.
    Thanks for posting this.

  2. I might go so far as to say it is virtually impossible to commune with God sans imagination. It is the essential tool for seeing the unseen and its development is a major boon to the spiritual life.

  3. Christiane says:

    “One of the best imaginative writers, C.S. Lewis, who created all of the Narnia characters, was convinced that God gave human beings the realm of the imagination to be a sort of classroom to teach them, in a childish form, the spiritual nature of the universe and reality itself. In allowing them to create the imaginative realm, they were learning to reflect on reality and see its true character, and to see their own character as well. It was a way to see that human beings are the imaginative creations of God himself, and they reflect both his nature and their own fallen, rebellious nature.”

    I remember reading his comment about our human need to ‘sneak past the watchful dragons’:

    “Why did one find it so hard to feel as one was told one ought to feel about God or about the sufferings of Christ? I thought the chief reason was that one was told one ought to. An obligation to feel can freeze feelings. And reverence itself did harm. The whole subject was associated with lowered voices; almost as if it were something medical. But supposing that by casting all these things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass and Sunday school associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real potency? Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons? I thought one could.”
    C.S. Lewis

    I’ve always loved Halloween as a child and even now. I feel the hatred of people for the innocent fun of it and I see them as very wounded by teachings that are mean-spirited and always looking for negativity where it really doesn’t exist. Here’s to a joyous Halloween for all the young who dress up in costumes and come round for treats with their parents . . . . may they always feel joy instead of ‘negativity’ . . . . . may God keep them safe from the lairs of the fundamentalist witch hunters. 🙂

  4. Christiane says:

    a crisp bright fall night
    the Halloween moon brings forth
    memories of joy

    • pumpkin pulp and seeds
      smashed on my front stoop and steps
      welcome the moonlight

      • Christiane says:

        wow!
        if this really happened to you, then you’ve been ‘tricked’

        ……. up north they have a custom called ‘goosey night’ where kids go out and mess stuff up …….. I always thought it was not a good idea when it was MY pumpkins that got smashed

        ……. and the kid who lived next door to my parents reached over the fence and smashed every one of my Pop’s growing pumpkins …… I remember my father saying ‘why?’ ‘Why would anyone do that?’ He grew up in hard times and he never understood the waste and destruction of food, not even when it was a ‘prank’.

        • It could be worse. In the bad old days (1970s, 80s, 90s), hundreds of fires used to be set in Detroit on Devil’s Night.

          • That Other Jean says:

            We’ve been very lucky–I can’t remember the last time someone’s house got egged or their trees covered in toilet paper, and there has never been anyone setting fires here. I’ve heard of Mischief Night, but kids around here are pretty well behaved when it comes to Halloween.

            • Jag har inte flyttat, bara bytt till egen domän! Och sÃ¥ har jag pekat den gamla mot den nya sÃ¥ ingen ska gÃ¥ vilse sÃ¥ klart. Jag ber om ursäkt ifall det skapat förvirring och mejÃ3bb.Br¶ckerxo/Metta recently posted..

        • Please note that there was nothing in the newspaper article about McGuire’s possible new position that indicated that he was regretfuly, apologetic, remorseful, penitential, etc. There was also nothing in the article suggesting that he was being recruited to teach students not to do what he did. In fact, the article suggested the opposite, that the business school honcho who was recruiting him was doing so out of admiration of his acsnmplismeotc.I think that were the business school to set McGuire up as a figure to be respected and emulated would be a sign of the decadence of its leadership.

    • That Other Jean says:

      Jack-o-Lantern glows,
      lighting the way for goblins,
      ghosts, and princesses.