November 18, 2017

A Halloween Open Mic

A Halloween Open Mic

Some years ago, Michael Spencer posed an Open Mic question to the iMonk community: “Where in the Bible does it say Satan wants to take “souls” to hell?”

Today, in addition to that query, I’m pulling a few other questions out of Michael’s famous Halloween posts so that we can discuss them together today. Here they are:

  • Where in the Bible does it say Satan wants to take “souls” to hell?
  • How did those great, fun, harmless, safe, nostalgic, exciting, slightly scary and completely un-demonic Halloweens of the past that many Christians enjoyed get turned into a complete rejection of Halloween and a growing body of evangelical taboos about the occult?
  • 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?
  • How has the faith and the church suffered from what Michael called “the escalating attacks of religious people on the realm of the imagination”?
  • How do you respond to the following commentary by Michael Spencer on such fundamentalist takes on Halloween as “Hell Houses”? — “But a person cannot watch Hell House without seeing a bleak, pessimistic and ultimately apocalyptically distorted vision of Christianity. This is a community of believers who are shaped almost entirely by the manipulative authoritarian spirituality of pastors who seem to have never heard of the doctrine of creation, the Kingdom of God, the present Lordship of Jesus or the church as the living body of Christ. This is a vision of evangelicalism that is loading a plane for escape from this world as quickly as possible.”

Comments

  1. Being raise Catholic, Halloween celebrations – Trics-or-treats, ghosts and goblins, scary ghost stories, pumpkin carving, decorating the Windows, etc:
    1) was never taken seriously – it’s like many myths
    2) ever considered to be “unchristian” – it was just a time for fun
    3) understood the roots of Halloween (All Hollows Eve) and how the church assimilated this pagan rooted festival as it did others: Oester, Christmas (Saturnalia), etc
    4) accepted it as a child’s imagination filled celebration for fun

    Then came the rise of the Fundies in the 70s and their “its not in the Bible” or “it’s the occult” reoccupation with everything from children’s Christmas shows (Rudolph, Santa, etc) to Halloween.

    Thankfully, at our house, such hysteria was eschewed and Halloween and Rudolph continues to be very art of the charm that made many wonderful childhood memories.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > it was just a time for fun

      As a kid Halloween was one of the best holidays. Much less encumbered by obligations than other holidays.

      • Christiane says:

        It was my FAVORITE ‘holiday’ . . . . . we had the ‘freedom’ to go out dressed up in costumes and get treats from our neighbors in the safe world of half a century ago . . . . . this Catholic wasn’t raised to fear the darkness BECAUSE there WAS the Light of Christ . . . . .

        kind of like that wonderful expression of faith by ‘Sam’ in TRR’s LOTR:
        ““There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”

        I think it had to do with ‘hope’ and with ‘trust’ . . . . . and I sure am not able to see much of either in the fearfulness and mean-spirited fundamentalism that has invaded our American Christianity with a vengeance . . . . . and out of that fearfulness and the meanness, has crawled a ‘leader’ politically who is strongly supported by a group that offers only contempt and judgement for many suffering people.

        I once criticized a dreadful person who was extremely negative, and later was called on it (I had called her a ‘witch’, my bad) . . . . and I have seen more like this poor woman so wounded by abuse from others and now dishing out judgement and abuse on others . . . . . . but in them, I think I am looking not at the ’cause’ of the negativity but at its ‘product’ . . . . . a group of people who lack trust and hope that is such a gift from the faith of Christ and who not only are hurting, but now also lash out at others in ways that I no longer think they CAN control:
        when that kind of ‘negativity’ is released and visited on the very young, it takes away their trust and their hope.
        They likely suffer a need for people not to judge them, not to respond to them negatively, but to listen to them because the only way they have to tell their stories in to lash out, and that isn’t working. Not for them, no.

        I recently came across an article that described how a great increase in the ‘negativity’ in a person might indicate that they are experiencing and increase in emotional and mental distress, and that they need help, so if this is true,
        these fear-mongering, mean-spirited souls are sending out a signal for help in the only language they know to express their pain. I hope and trust that they will find some peace in this world, and some understanding.

        • Nice, insightful comment, Christiane. I think as Christians, if we follow Jesus’ model, we should not fear all the things we tend to fear. Negativity is a symptom of fear, which shows a lack of truly following Jesus. And I don’t mean to make “don’t fear” sound easy, but it is a goal and a pattern we should establish as Christ-followers.

    • Then came the rise of the Fundies in the 70s and their “its not in the Bible” or “it’s the occult” reoccupation with everything from children’s Christmas shows (Rudolph, Santa, etc) to Halloween.

      More and more, the parallels with Islam are becoming plainer to see for me. It’s not even the religion per se, it’s this mindset and approach.

      I rebuke it and will fight it and have nothing to do with it.

  2. … we can give the supernatural world of evil too much power. I guess it’s a case of either the devil isn’t real or the devil is on every street corner hiding inside a pumpkin. Surely there is a middle ground where we acknowledge supernatural evil but we recognize its limited power in the face of the power of Christ.

    Ironically I wonder if this might have been what home of the Christians were doing when they celebrated All Hallow’s Eve and All Saints Day in the past. Those festivities were opportunities to laugh in the face of evil spirits, to dress up as them and sort of mock them, saying, “Hey check this out. These big, scary demons, they’re just empty masks. When you compare them with the power of the risen Jesus Christ, they’re not up to much.”

    I wonder if Halloween offers us a chance to affirm our eternal life while looking into the face of death which has actually lost its sting … For Christians the scariness of death is not scary. Not really. Because we’ve got eternal life.

    Quoted from: http://happycatholic.blogspot.com/2017/10/halloween-o-death-where-is-thy-sting.html

    • “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” – C S Lewis

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        Mr. Lewis is spot on. It is a good answer.

        But I am everyday more in the consideration of the question: Are they my problem? I am one kinda pasty middle-aged mud monkey in middle America. Does being concerned with the principalities and powers of darkness make sense? Is it a constructive use of my time? Is there any profit in it? [certainly many are made poorer by their concern about such]. Why aren’t those people I encounter who are most concerned about Spirits much more impressive people? [really, they are not, emphatically]. Why do the people I most admire, who are out there – happily – doing to slow slog of neighborliness and civics – almost to the one – have a quiet slow-n-steady religion [sort of like: peace, maybe?].

        I, the middle aged mud monkey, should be challenging the principalities and powers of darkness? Seriously? The most courageous thing I do in a given day is cross the intersection of Monroe Ave & Leonard St. That is about as much danger as an upper-class white American faces in a day. Upon consideration isn’t this farcical? Imagining oneself as some kind of warrior? That is fun in Dungeon & Dragons – but that is a GAME!

        And how does one square this kind of Spiritualism with: “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
        Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” – – – where are in there is there much room for demon talk?

        • Iain Lovejoy says:

          Paul says we are to “stand”, not attack, in the struggle against the spiritual rulers and powers of this world. Our struggle is purely defensive, so as not to succumb to the spirits of the age and the world (however literally or metaphorically you want to take them). Jesus has already done the heavy lifting for their ultimate defeat.

    • I tend to stick with what the Bible has to say about the devil.

      Ergo, “the Devil” isn’t real and has never been real.

      • Makes sense. Do you also go along with what the Bible has to say about malicious, non-human, non-corporeal, intelligent spirits, otherwise known as demons: that they exist?

        • We can call a spirit of the age a demon all we want. I know I won’t be calling a mental disorder a demonic possession anytime soon either.

          Obviously there are some nuances lol.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      h… we can give the supernatural world of evil too much power. I guess it’s a case of either the devil isn’t real or the devil is on every street corner hiding inside a pumpkin.

      When the Spanish Inquisition rolled on a Witchcraft case (which was rare — Inquisitors were on a fixed salary, not a cut of the take — that was the charge they brought: The Heresy of Attributing Too Much Power to The Devil.

      Now Spiritual Warfare(TM) has given the Devil so much Power that he would crush God if it weren’t for such Mighty Spiritual Warriors (guess who?) Maybe that’s why these Spiritual Warriors are so shrill and hysterical — they have attributed so much Power to the Devil that deep down inside they’re afraid they’ve chosen the losing side.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Those festivities were opportunities to laugh in the face of evil spirits, to dress up as them and sort of mock them, saying, “Hey check this out. These big, scary demons, they’re just empty masks. When you compare them with the power of the risen Jesus Christ, they’re not up to much.”

      Contrast that with today where Christians hide in their basements with all their lights off on Halloween in terror of the DEMONS. (And to keep their noses squeeky-clean to pass the Great White Throne and Rapture Litmus Tests. No Heathen Contamination here!)

      Thank You, Mike Warnke.
      You total Fraud.

      • Poor Jerome Weller, you have temptations; they must be overcome. When the devil comes to tempt and harass you with thoughts of the kind you allude to, have recourse at once to conversation, drink more freely, be jocose and playful and even indulge in some sin in hatred of the evil spirit and to torment him, to leave no room to make us overzealous about the merest trifles; otherwise we are beaten if we are too nervously sensitive about guarding against sin. If the devil says to you, ‘Will you not stop drinking, answer him: I will drink all the more because you forbid it; I will drink great droughts in the name and to the honor of Jesus Christ., Imitate me. I never drink so well, I never eat so much, I never enjoy myself so well at table as when I am vexing the devil who is prepared to mock and harass me. Oh, that I could paint sin in a fair light, so as to mock the devil and make him see that I acknowledge no sin and am not conscious of having committed any! I tell you, we must put all the Ten Commandments, with which the devil tempts and plagues us so greatly, out of sight and out of mind. If the devil upbraids us with our sins and declares us to be deserving of death and Hell,’ but what then? Are you for that reason to be damned eternally? By no means. ‘I know One who suffered and made satisfaction for me, viz., Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where he is, there also I shall be.

        (De Wette, V. 188)[‘The Facts About Luther,’ O’Hare, TAN Books, 1987,pp. 117-118]

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I guess it’s a case of either the devil isn’t real or the devil is on every street corner hiding inside a pumpkin.

      Remember the preface to Screwtape Letters?

      “The devil isn’t real” = Materialist
      “The devil is on every street corner hiding inside a pumpkin” = Magician

  3. Al Miller’s latest podcast is largely devoted to Halloween. I read the transcript, and was struck at the fact that, while the language was more “educated”, the ideas conveyed were 100% those of Jack Chick…

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Culturally – we *LIKE* fear and judgment.

      • Burro [Mule] says:

        Especially if it’s the other guy who’s scared and being judged.

        What a warm, fuzzy feeling!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          In English, :”Judgment” means “A binding decision”.
          In Christianese, “Judgment” means “Somebody — THEE, NOT ME — gets it in the neck.”

        • –> “Especially if it’s the other guy who’s scared and being judged.”

          The mindset of a bully.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The Gospel According to Jack Chick (synergistic with the Gospel According to Hal Lindsay) messed up my head real bad some 40 years ago.

    • Christiane says:

      There is a LOT of money in fear-mongering and in ‘pointing the finger’ and in any ‘entertainment’ gatherings of ‘christians’ that focus on the ‘sins of others’ . . . .

      the Moral Majority, the Focus on the Family, . . . . . it all sounds so good until you look at what is ‘beneath’ and you see the ‘negativity’ of judgmentalism and contempt and a great desire to ‘control’ and to ‘take power’ in political arenas to ‘make sure’ that everyone has to adhere to their ideas of what should be ‘allowed’ . . . . .

      the give-away?
      take the abortion issue, for example .. . . . on the surface, it seems to be a group of people who want the best for the unborn who are helpless;
      but THEN when issues of money and help for young mothers and medical for infants comes up, oh my goodness are the fundamentalists backing away from any social responsibilities of contributing to the needs of the kind of society that supports young vulnerable mothers and babies who need help . . . . fundamentalists seem to shrink away from any concepts of ‘social justice’ and are just heavily into ‘legislating morality’ instead . . . . but that doesn’t make ‘sense’ . . . . it never did. So the fundamentalists are exposed as posers, control-freaks, politicos, who want their taxes cut, even if the local NICU needs to be shut down in order to do it. . . . (don’t laugh, a former governor in VA cut funding for the largest pediatric hospital in the state after he was elected on a ‘conservative’ platform opposing abortions)

      I don’t trust the combination of politics and Christian fundamentalism, no. There is a ‘hurray for us, we’ve got ours and the hell with everyone else’ materialism present that defies any successful attempts at social justice in the advancement of the common good. The impact of the union of politics and religion may be our country’s future, but I can see any good coming from it, no.

      • Christiane says:

        ‘can’t see’ any good coming from it

        (sorry for error)

      • I dunno, but in my neighborhood it is the conservative Christians who are doing the most social action. Providing housing for the poor, homes for women at risk, running food banks, working with street people and several addictions centers.
        Do you have no Salvation army? No Teen Challenge?

        What city are you in? Have you actually looked to see if any of them are providing social services? In my area the so called fundamentalists as you would label them have invested millions in social action to the point where the government is asking them to manage things!

        • Christiane says:

          I expect we are speaking about two different groups. The ‘fundamentalists’ I am referring to much more resemble the Westboro ‘cult’ than the groups you are describing, so extreme is the hatred and contempt for ‘those other sinners’.

          Your group doesn’t fit that mold, no. Not at all. I know evangelicals who are NOT ‘fundamentalist’ in their outlook and they also do not fit into the extreme cult-like fundamentalism of which I speak. My evangelical acquaintances are volunteers in the community and contribute much of their time and their energy to helping others.

  4. The people who run Hell Houses really want to put people in a state of terror, not of demons, witches and evil spirits, or even of sin, but of God and God’s judgment . Their vision of existence and of God is more terrifying than any Halloween fright that I can imagine.

    • Well, they can always quote from the verse where Jesus says to not fear those who can only kill you, but to fear the One who can cast you body and soul into hell…

      • They can and do. If most people are like me, they can’t really hear that verse. It makes them irrational with fear to listen to it. What we can hear is, “Fear not!”, spoken again and again by those confident in the victory and love of Jesus Christ for humanity.

      • Jesus does say some frightening things in the gospels. I often hear it claimed that most of those frightening utterances were directed at the professional religious of his time. But it was one of Martin Luther’s insights to observe that, in some sense, every human being is a religious professional, so we can’t simply take the Pharisaic path of thanking God that we are not like those hypocritical priests over there. I don’t subscribe to traditional doctrines of hell, but I do believe there is something real and significant to be lost in refusing Jesus Christ, so there is something to fear in the result of that persistent refusal. But the message received by the Church from its encounter with the risen Lord, and the message it has to share as a result, is one of forgiveness, reconciliation and love; a message from a God who chooses to endure death rather than judge and condemn; a message that begins and end with the benediction, “Fear not!” Stop with the Hell Houses already.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          But without the threat of Eternal Hell, how can we the Righteous keep the pewpeons in line?

    • Dan from Georgia says:

      Hell Houses, and similar productions, are common here in Georgia.

    • Hell houses combined with the culture war are particularly bad, especially if you’re a kid growing up on the wrong side of them. :/

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      God as Cosmic Monster.
      (And once you have that image burned into your mind, it NEVER completely goes away.)

      Which makes Satan the hero, as he rebelled against that Cosmic Monster.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The people who run Hell Houses really want to put people in a state of terror, not of demons, witches and evil spirits, or even of sin, but of God and God’s judgment .

      “If you can’t love ’em into the Kingdom, SCARE ‘EM INTO THE KINGDOM!”
      — Christian AM radio sometime in the Eighties, when KBRT was going south

  5. Boo!!!

  6. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    “”” get turned into a complete rejection of Halloween and a growing body of evangelical taboos about the occult?”””

    Someone, I cannot recall who, said “Manichaeism is the default human religion”. That is the reason. Many, maybe most, Christians are not Christians but are Manichaeans-with-Christian-syncretism. Christianity is the cultural flavoring, descended from the previous age; it is most certainly not the underlying structure. I do not know what other explanation makes sense.

    The pastors and teachers of the previous generation were utter miserable failures, devoid of courage; if they were not willfully complicit in betraying the values of their host institutions.

    Turn on “Christian” radio… how is that “Christian”? Listen to some of my most fiercely “Christian” acquaintances – nothing Christian comes up – it is fear, power, judgment, and these days no small share of vengeance [against completely imaginary grievances]. Once you are trained to fear imaginary things why not add witchcraft and covens to the mix?

    It is sad condition.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      You have used the term “Manichaeism” without telling us your definition of the term.

      Do you mean what JMJ/Christian Monist called “Platonic Dualism”, the idea of “Spiritual Good, Physical Baaaaaad” and that never the twain shall meet or overlap?

  7. Dan from Georgia says:

    Peruse “CharismaNews” website and there are many articles that place Halloween on the same level as voting for a democrat.

    • That from the people who helped put President “The Purge” in office.

      • Dan from Georgia says:

        OMG! You should see the lengths CharismaNews goes to invoke the “Trump is God’s Chosen One” belief…it’s almost comical and sad at the same time.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          o/~
          Every knee shall bow,
          Every tongue confess,
          Donald Trump is LORD…
          o/~
          (I’m expecting that hymn to show up any day now. We’ve already got an “I give Donald Trump praise and adoration” on Wondering Eagle’s comment threads.)

    • Patriciamc says:

      Charisma is the National Inquirer of American Christianity.

  8. Steve Newell says:

    Happy Reformation Day! This is the day 500 years ago when a monk “knocked” on a door and the Roman Cathlotic Church learned that “Treat or Treat” meant in a completely different day.

  9. I was raised in a hard core fundie rural Georgia Southern Baptist church and Halloween was one of the most fun times of the year. The church had an unusually large basement which lent itself to all kinds of uses including haunted houses and mass eating events. The adults had a ball fixing the place up and entertaining the kids. The kids had a ball dressing up. Everybody had a ball eating and fellowshipping. Well several years after I went away to school my Dad told me that a couple new families had joined who frowned on such questionable frivolity and in tandem with a change in ministers, voila! Now they had something called a Fall Festival with associated edifying activities. (Everybody still had a big feast however. Some things never change.) Very sad. But nothing can take away those wonderful memories.

  10. Iain Lovejoy says:

    I can’t see in the context why Jesus is taken to be threatening his disciples here. The whole passage is about not being afraid. Surely a more obvious understanding is that the disciples shouldn’t be afraid of their enemies’ power to have them killed because they have on their side God who can not only kill their enemies but also cast their enemies into Gehenna. The verse is, in my view, a play on words of the disciples fearing their enemies and “fearing God” in the religious sense which means something entirely different.
    The whole “fearing God” thing seems to me to have nothing to do with being frightened:
    – It is a standard phrase for the wicked persecuting God’s people, or the poor, or otherwise being egregious sinners that they “have no fear of God”, the point being that God will not let them get away with this and they ought therefore be afraid to do it.
    – By parallelism or opposition, those who are not boldly and without fear rebelling against God in sin are then said to have “fear of God”, in that they would rightly be afraid of God’s justice if they were to set themselves in opposition to God.
    – But this doesn’t in any sense mean that one ever ought actually to be fearful of God, only of the consequences of reverting to rebellion against him into sin, and God is our rescuer from sin, whom we should believe and trust in and grow in love for, not fear.

    • Iain Lovejoy says:

      This was supposed to be a reply to Robert F’s comment about Matthew 10:28.

    • I don’t see any threats, either, but I do see a warning, to the disciples and anybody else who will hear: Do not put your fear of the threat of lesser evils above the fear of the greater evil of alienating yourself from God.

  11. Burro [Mule] says:

    I gotta ‘fess up here. I haven’t celebrated Hallowe’en in forty years. I never cared for it much once I got too old for Trick or Treating, and when I had my come-to-Jesus moment in the early ‘seventies, I decided to burn over a thousand dollars of collected occult materials and Aleister Crowley-themed horseshit I had collected over the years. (Luke 19.19) My mother and grandmother were firm believers in the occult; books on Jeanne Dixon, Edgar Cayce, Nostradamus, etc were referenced far more often than the Bible. Astrology, crystals, Ouija boards were all serious business, and this before the Hippie/New Age/Human Potential movement burst over my head in the mid 60s.

    It is Enlightenment thinking, I believe, more than classical Christianity that informs 20th Century Americans that the occult is no danger.

    Nonetheless,I turned my back on Hallowe’en with no great fanfare. When the diabolical panic hit the Evangelical world in the 80s, I was in Reformed-dom and didn’t pay it much heed, but I do remember thinking that I was afraid some of my more excitable brethren were in danger of falling into Lewis’ first category.

    My wife comes from South America, and brought a whole raft of non-Enlightenment thought into the family. Living with my wife is like having a window into the animist mindsets of our ancestors. If she weren’t Pentecostal, she’d be burning ginger and cat hair against the mal ojo and setting out aguardiente to placate the pishtacos. You won’t convince her otherwise. She refuses to countenance anything to do with Hallowe’en in our household, or anything to do with El Dia de los recordados (Day of the Dead).

    Now that I’m Orthodox, Hallowe’en is kind of off my radar. Our All Saints Day is your Trinity Sunday, coming seven days after Pentecost. As far as I know, there was a kind of kerfuffle about how St. John Maximovich of San Francisco was displeased at a Hallowe’en dance being celebrated at his church, but it turns out that his displeasure was at the dance taking priority over a vigil service for St. John of Kronstadt that was held the same night, not at the Hallowe’en-y-ness of the dance.

    All of that said, I still feel the chthonic desire to celebrate something specifically autumnal around Samhaintide. I remember a Charismatic Episcopal church that had a harvest Fest (complete with hard cider and ‘soul cakes’!), then lit a bonfire the size of a barn and publicly cursed the Devil and his works (liturgically, of course). I had more than a few mugs of cider in me at that time and my rebukes of Old Scratch were loud and heartfelt. I wish more churches did something like that.

    Also, I lost Reformation Day. The Reformation never penetrated east of the Niemen.

    • Open24Hours says:

      Mmmm Mmmm… fish tacos… with a side of aguardamole…

    • Nice post, Mule. Thanks for your thoughts and experience.

    • ‘…I decided to burn over a thousand dollars of collected occult materials and Aleister Crowley-themed horseshit I had collected over the years…’

      In my ‘lost years’ I went through a Crowley phase myself. Still have a pack of his personally designed Tarot cards which I collect. Hope this doesn’t open me up too much to demonic influence.

      When I attended Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY (right when the big purge of “liberals” in the SBC was going on) we had visiting privileges at the library of the Presbyterian Seminary. I was fascinated to discover that they had one of the biggest occult libraries I had ever seen. They had all of Crowley’s books and some manuscripts I’ve not seen anywhere since. Know thy enemy I guess.

    • Patriciamc says:

      Burro, with your background, I can see why you wouldn’t participate in Halloween. Did your mother or grandmother ever become Christians?

      • Burro (Mule) says:

        Not in any Nicean sense. They were both baptized in what later became the PCUSA, so I pray for them. I welcome any others who pray for the departed to do so as well.

        Thanks in advance.

    • I like the sound of that Charismatic Episcopal church you spoke of Mule.

  12. These are the types of questions that would have gotten me yelled at and punished and bullied as a teen. Love them.

  13. There was no prohibition against Halloween in the nominally Catholic household I grew up in. I costumed and went door to door, but I never really enjoyed it much. As an adult, I continued for years to give candy out at Halloween, but my wife and I have stopped in recent times, due to not wanting to climb up and down the lengthy flight of stairs of our second floor apartment, and because of several extremely unpleasant encounters with very rude Trick-or-Treaters. We just keep our front stoop light turned off during the county-designated two hours a year when Trick-or-Treating is permitted in our area.

  14. I’ve posted regarding this before, but will again.

    Grew up fundie, and my parents were ‘sponsors’ in the church high school dept. they had a blast every year putting together Halloween walks/houses, etc. can’t tell you how many manikins were in my house, and if you forgot and went around the corner…boom! Scary to a little kid (me), but I have fun memories of all our Halloween’s…dressing up, trick or treating, candy sorting and trading, etc. Amazingly, my parents remained that way, even when fundies went on their anti Halloween tear.

    All to say, guess I wasn’t even aware of the conflict until we started attending a Calvary chapel-like church. Whoa! Halloween was…wicked, evil, satanic, demonic, and a lot more adjectives I can’t remember. (Side note: same with Santa…they did not like Santa Claus … nope!). I thought it so odd. I had no idea. Where did this come from? They explained their view, and, hmmmm, I still thought it odd. Dressing up? Really? Candy, friends, fun, being scared? Where’s the evil there?

    Needless to say, we, um, didn’t agree with their take on Halloween (or Santa). Just kept letting our kids enjoy both. My question was this: explain to me how I let my kids dress up all year long….but ONE day out of the year, I don’t?
    It’s called fun, imaginative, friends, scary, and best of all….candy!

    And honestly, at the end of the day—who cares???

    Do we not have bigger battles, daily? Those we know a loved one fighting cancer, loss of loved ones, marriages, children to raise, loving our neighbor as ourselves, and so on. How Christ – like is it to rant on this day (or about Santa) when we can spend our time and energy to extend mercy to those around us who need it?

    Needless to say, we weren’t at that church too long of a time…great teaching, though. Fed our souls.

    BTW: church referenced above with Halloween parties? J Vernon McGees, church of the open door downtown LA…just sayin’

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      J Vernon Magee — I can’t hear “How Firm a Foundation” without expecting his “Through the Bible” voice-over to come in halfway through the first verse. Kind of a curmudgeon, but seemed to have his head screwed on straight. Back when I was listening to Christianese AM radio, his “Through the Bible” was about the only program I actually liked.

      Unfortunately, these days it’s Calvary Chapel and its clones who dominate and define the Christian scene in SoCal.

    • And honestly, at the end of the day—who cares???

      Because you are sinning and rebelling against GOD and TRUTH, and if you want to be right and in His will…

      It’s maddening.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Remember the definition of a Puritan?
        “Lying awake at night from the fear that somebody somewhere might be having fun.”

  15. John Barry says:

    I think we all overthink and overreach the subject. To my kids who like most kids love Halloween when they are young 6 o about 11 or 12 years it is just fun to dress up and get candy, no deeper than that. If my kids ever asked me about it I would just say it is pretend time and an old custom. In the past 30 or 40 years it has been hijacked by immature grown ups and nuts who try to give it some gravitas and symbolic meaning that was not a part of the Halloween I grew up with or my kids , (I am 70). What changed is the need some in society to find a rally point on both sides of the issue. As I use to tell my kids , the devil loses so pick the winner. Keep it simple they are kids. I played “Army” when I was a kid, loved Audie Murphy and killed a lot of imaginary Nazi soldiers with my playmates but we knew it was not real. Halloween does not represent any “real” event just a holiday in America that evolved to sell customs and candy. If you see your kids taking devil worship seriously take them to church and talk to them. Tell them the devil loses, Christians win. If it were not for Easter eggs and the bunny many Americans would have no knowledge or even a hint of what Easter is. If my little boy dress up like Hercules I do not think they really thought they were Hercules, they were pretending and outgrew it like I did playing Army. Of course we now have 70 year trekkies , Star War and Ring people still pretending but it is harmless unless they are nuts and believe they are Darth Vader.

  16. Dana Ames says:

    Like others here, I grew up Catholic. Halloween was my favorite secular holiday because, well, CANDY. Headless and I are only 2 months apart in age, and I think Chaplain Mike is right there in the same year with us. When we were kids, Halloween **was** “fun, harmless, safe, nostalgic, exciting, slightly scary and completely un-demonic.” I dressed up (I was such a cute little witch!), collected my candy stash, and sugared out for the next few days. Like Mule, I was pretty much done with Halloween when I quit going trick-or-treating.

    I think the sea change came with the final years of the “Jesus Movement”, when people got a little older and those who didn’t drift out of it got a lot more serious. Not to forget Warnke and his ilk who were sprinkled into the mix, telling us about human and animal sacrifices on Samhain. At the same time, what was coming out of the secular culture in the form of books and movies with a “supernatural” flavor became increasingly focused on the occult and increasingly violent. The whole thing took one form in Christian culture and another in the secular culture, but it seems like it was the same focus for both. Viet Nam? Violent unrest in the streets? Lots of drug use? Political assassinations in our land? Changing social mores? Put those in your potion pot, shake well, and see what brews…

    I was taken in by the Evangelical craziness, but not to the extent of hiding in the basement. We let our kids dress up, but as nothing ghoulish. We had home or church parties for them, and when they got a little older we let them go trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. I didn’t want them participating in ghoulish imagery at school; most of it was innocent – pumpkins and such – but for a few years we took the kids out of school for the day, went to San Francisco and did something fun there. We let them carve a pumpkin, and I used the innards for our Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. Our kids do feel slightly deprived, but in the face of all the violent occultism that was so connected with the day, I don’t have too many regrets about how we did things.

    Also like Mule, Halloween is not on my radar; nobody in my parish is rabid about not participating. Our alternative party the weekend before Halloween, new in the last few years, involves dressing up as a saint and being able to tell about the person you’re portraying; adults are invited to climb into a saint “costume” as well. In terms of engagement with remembering the dead, Orthodox kind of do that all the time, in various ways… As a child, when I still lived in Montana where family is buried, Memorial Day was the time for my mom and my aunt to spruce up the graves, and remember our family members gone before. Everyone else in town was out in the cemeteries doing the same. No candy, but I really enjoyed that day.

    Dana

  17. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    On an up note: the number of trick-or-treaters has continued it’s steady climb up from essentially zero a decade ago. Gotta be 30+ so far, and a half hour to go.

  18. You’re so right Adam TW…ours has continued to increase steadily over the last 5 years–which I love.

    Here in SoCal…the fun hasn’t started yet…except for my husband sneaking his fav candy!! He won’t answer the door, but he set up the porch with plenty of lights, etc…
    I did get a pic of our foster baby all dressed up at 3 months! Too cute. I miss him, but he’s going to a permanent adoptive home….YEA!

  19. Christiane says:

    honestly, when people who aren’t Catholic really do experience a ‘haunting’ or some signs of ‘possession’ by an evil entity, they put their bibles down and come running to the Catholic Church to find out about getting an ‘exorcism’.

    But what they don’t know is that the Church will not take just any case. All else in the way of possibilities must be ruled out: medical, pranksters, psychological or psychiatric illnesses, natural causes, etc. etc.

    Once a case is well-documented and the Church decides to take it on, there are specially-trained ‘exorcists’ who come to help and they know what they are doing.

    So the silly people who are afraid of costumes and who poo-poo children having a fun evening can’t handle the real thing when it shows up: the presence of REAL supernatural evil . . . an entity or a ‘possession’.
    They at least know where to find real help. Not some scam artists who stand to make money off of their trouble.
    The Catholic Church does not discriminate in who it will help, but the help given is not something ‘casual’ or lightly taken-on. It is dangerous business. And not something for amateurs to undertake for amusement or as a money-making ‘deal’.
    The dangers involved cannot be over-emphasized.