December 14, 2017

Randy Thompson on Halloween

dracula-2

Note from CM: I received this email from our faithful reader Randy Thompson and thought it was worth passing along to you. Tokah said it best in the comments today: arguments over Halloween are silly.

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I suspect you’re sick to death of crackpot articles on Halloween, but I couldn’t resist passing this one on, courtesy of the good people at Charisma (and to be fair, the Charisma editors have posted another article on the same subject with a different point of view): Why Celebrating Halloween Is Dangerous.

There is one genuinely interesting comment in it that speaks volumes. She raises the question, “Doesn’t God have more power than the devil?” And then answers it: “Yes, but He has given that power to us. If we do not walk in it we become his prey.”

Yikes! What a scary world it is if you believe that God has abdicated his sovereignty to folks like me (and her). This is Pentecostal atheism. God is an absentee creator and works only through his proxies. Having read the novel “Dracula” last summer, her thought world is oddly similar to the one in the novel. There is a God, but fighting Count Dracula is all up to you, and knowing the right symbols to use against him (crucifixes and garlic come to mind). I prefer living in a world where God truly is in control of things, even though I have to accept that with blind faith at times. Whatever darkness is out there, and it’s out there, I choose to believe that this is God’s Earth and I’m His creation and that I look to Him, His Son, and His Kingdom coming and yet to come.

bela_lugosi_2Also, her etymology of the word “holiday” is interesting. She’s probably right about it coming from “holy day,” but she’s clueless about words changing their meaning and usage over time. So, Labor Day, George Washington’s Birthday, and Labor Day are “holy days”? I think not. Interesting question: If she’s right, what demon lies behind Washington’s Birthday? Or Memorial Day? Or, for that matter, Thanksgiving?

(Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

It’s too bad so many Christians don’t get history. Things change. Old time pagan rites and rituals lose their spiritual significance as people stop believing in them and become simple (folk) customs and cultural habits (despite wiccan attempts to resurrect old time paganism). In other words, it’s just plain crazy to think candy takes on some sort of demonic-sacramental quality in autumn.

Happy Halloween.
Randy

Comments

  1. “For example, most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches.”

    I knew the recent price increase in chocolate was all down to the work of the Devil! Now, if you care to believe that Mars, Nestlé, Haribo, etc. are all owned, operated and have production lines of witches performing invocations over the sweets, then you should probably stick with apples – oops! No! Forbidden fruit, Garden of Eden, temptation of the serpent! Peanuts? Are they safe for Christians to eat?

    Throwing in the bit about “Mabon” as the name of the Autumnal Equinox immediately tripped my “Oh, great: neo-pagan/Wiccan Wheel of the Year constructed nonsense” detectors. That’s part of the kludging together of Irish, Welsh and Scots folkloric traditions and mythology to create a unified year of ‘sabbats’ or festivals to mark the solstices and equinoxes (as Hallowe’en or Samhain inconveniently doesn’t fall on one of these astronomical event dates, they had to hike in ‘Mabon’ from Welsh myths to do so).

    I can’t comment on the lady’s experience ministering to people involved in occultism, but I can say that if what she wrote in the article is based on what they’re telling her, then it goes back no later than the 1940s or 50s when Gerald Gardner was creating a tradition of modern witchcraft out of whole cloth more or less.

    Agreed: if people are genuinely invoking spirits and performing magic on this date because they buy into the whole “demonic festival” hoo-ha stoked up by these kinds of articles, it’s serious.

    But pumpkins as satanic beacons that will draw demons to your front porch to harvest the souls of you and your children? Sit down and have a nice, relaxing cup of tea, missus!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Correspondence from Martha circa January 2011:

      Now! My little pet theory! The Reformation threw out the whole layers of acculturation that had accreted around popular Catholicism, and they went after it where it hurt – the folk religion.

      But not alone did they destroy all the official church paraphernalia, this meant that for the ordinary man or woman, you couldn’t even have a rosary beads, a crucifix, a holy picture, a relic , holy water in your house or on your person – nothing except the Bible (if you could read it and had a copy). You couldn’t even say a prayer to your patron saint – no more of Martin Luther in the thunderstorm promising St. Anne if she’d save him, he’d join a monastery. So all the protections that the ordinary people had relied on were whipped away in one fell swoop and they were left with naked faith.

      And with a lively belief in the devil still alive and kicking, and a view of God that may not have been meant as punitive but turned that way (as we’ve seen in the IM discussion threads about ‘if you’re sick, it’s God’s punishment or your own lack of faith’), they were left reliant on their own faith – ah, but wait! If you’re inclined to the Calvinist end of the spectrum, that may not be enough! Because how do you know this is real faith, saving faith, living faith as distinct from the dead faith that avails naught? God even permits some of the reprobate to feel they have a saving faith, even though they really don’t, and are not of the elect but are damned already despite whatever they may do or say.

      If all that will protect you from the Devil is your own faith, and you can’t be sure of that, of course all the alternative they had was to make a fetish of the Bible (as bad in its way as any magical charm-prayer or novena to saints in the Bad Old Days). All you can do is wave the Word around and see devils under every bush.

      And I think that attitude soaked in to the Protestant sub-consciousness and we’re still seeing the fruits of it in, as you say, demonic UFOs and duelling Bible-verses. You have to get the right verse exactly right with the right exegesis and right interpretation, or you’re toast – the same way a magician must get the circle drawn exactly right when invoking demons or he’ll be torn to shreds.

      The early Reformation universe was a very bare and hostile place….

      • I couldnt have said it better, Headless Unicorn Guy. Protestantism stripped Christianity of living spirituality and turned it into dead literary review. I dont think its a coincidence that the two strongest strains of Christianity left are Catholicism / Orthodoxy, and Evangelical / Pentecosty. Both offer a chance to connect with & experience God in a practical, everyday way. Your analogy about magicians and obsessive scripture interpretation is a good one.

        I think that for good people, a preoccupation with Halloween has nothing to do with liking evil, but everything to to with a desire to experience spirtuality and the supernatural. If ghosts are real, then God is too. You dont have to read it in a book and try to get yourself to believe, you can just know it.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I couldnt have said it better, Headless Unicorn Guy.

          Your analogy about magicians and obsessive scripture interpretation is a good one.

          Actually, that was Martha of Ireland in an email exchange over two years ago.

          And haven’t you experienced Christianese Culture/Spiritual Warrior types using their Bibles as grimoires of single-verse verbal-component spells? (Sometimes not even the verses but their chapter-and-verse zip/postal codes.)

          Protestantism stripped Christianity of living spirituality and turned it into dead literary review.

          Chaplain Mike said somewhere on these threads that the Industrial Revolution and Age of Reason led to a mechanistic literal interpretation, turning the Old Stories of God and Man into a Spiritual Engineering Manual of Fact, Fact, Fact. Get those checklists out!

          “His mind is of Wheels and Metal.” — Treebeard re Saruman

          My own imagery isn’t so much “dead literary review” as Purity of Ideology, like a Communist Party Ideologist (Materialist Magician, My Dear Wormwood?) duckspeaking the Party Line. With all the behavioral baggage that brings, from Citizen Robespierre to Comrade Pol Pot.

    • “For example, most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches.”

      Paul said that kind of thing is irrelevant. When some Christians asked him if they may eat meat that had been sacrificed to pagan gods, he said, yes, it is fine to eat it, so long as your personal conscience is not violated by it.

      I would say celebrating Halloween is much the same thing (and Easter, telling your children about Santa, etc)

      The way I understand Christianity… it doesn’t matter if the story is true, if witches prayed over the candy, you, a Christian is eating…

      Jesus Christ is the ultimate, end all authority in the whole universe, the Bible teaches (via Job) that Satan cannot touch you unless he gets God’s permission first, and greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

  2. So, the “article” is by Kimberly Daniels, who asserted (a few years back) that Halloween candy is “prayedover” by covens of witches while it’s still in the factory (well, factories).

    Which made me think of a slight variation on the Pillsbury slogan: “Nothin’ says lovin’ like the coven at the oven.”

    If I were on the editorial board at Charisma (glad I’m not!), I would send that piece by Daniels to the bottom of the ocean. Real quick.

  3. Err, “prayed over.”

  4. “Nothin’ says lovin’ like the coven at the oven.”

    Oh gosh, that’s great!

    By the way, if the rather nervous Ms. Daniels is worried about the etymology of “holiday,” I hope she never consults an ordinary English dictionary or even Wikipedia, and discovers that, by simply naming the days of the week, she is worshipping terrible pagan gods on: The Sun’s day, the Moon’s day, Tyr’s day (Norse god of law), Woden’s day, Thor’s day, Freyja’s day (Norse goddess of love, sex, war and death — Go figure), and Saturn’s day.

    Oh, the humanity!

    • H. Lee – why thanks, but really, it just popped into my head (bad bun on Pillsbury Doughboy) when I 1st saw her assertions a few years back.

      She is so far out in left filed that I think she left the ballpark behind a *long* time ago. I wish xtians weren’t so prone to believing tabloid-style “reports” of her kind, but then, one thing I’ve seen (and was prey to myself) in the evangelical/charismatic world is superstition.

    • I believe there were some Christian sects that used First day, Second day etc. as the week names as a result of those connexions. I know I’ve proofread letters from Quakers of the 1700/1800s (proofreading the scanner’s output that is) that used that convention and I think the Puritans may have done so as well.

  5. Obligatory Pentecostal answer, from a Pentecostal who doesn’t worry about Halloween (i.e. me):

    Yes, some Pentecostals teach that. And some Pentecostals are theologically clueless.

    Yes, we believe God has given power to his followers. (You know, the whole charismatic gifts cornucopia.) No, this doesn’t mean God’s left himself with no sovereign power whatsoever thanks to some cosmic zero-sum game. Nor does it mean God refuses to work when his servants refuse to follow, so if we walk in darkness we’re dead meat. That’s not grace.

    This is yet another instance of Christians, of any and every stripe, using sloppy theology to bash the things they don’t like.

    • I don’t think this article is bashing Pentacostalism as a whole, it’s bashing the variant of Pentacostalism being espoused by this particular author of this particular article.

    • Randy Thompson says:

      I agree with you, K.W., that God has indeed “given power to his followers,” but I think I would be inclined to understand that the power God gives us is Himself, and what comes out of our relationship with Him is genuine charisma. In other words, I trust people who have prophetic words that come from an intimate relationship with God and who may have no idea they have a prophetic word. I’m inclined not (!) to trust people who claim the gift of prophecy and act on the basis of it. A weak point in Pentecostalism is a tendency (among some, at least) to seek gifts while losing sight of the Giver of the gifts. I’m at a point in life where I’m way more interested in the Giver.

      By the way, I’m not bashing Pentecostals in general, but I am “bashing” a thought world where the gifts of God seemingly have come unstuck from the Giver of them. This tends to lead to people having an inflated sense of their spiritual significance. It also tends to lead to an unhealthy emphasis on spiritual techniques and formulas that supposedly accomplish God’s purposes. For example, I don’t find in Scripture (or in the early church Fathers) an emphasis on figuring out what spirit to cast out and techniques for doing it. When they prayed for people, things happened simply because God was present.

      I am deeply grateful for my experiences among Pentecostal people, and, for the record, I pray often in tongues (to myself). And, for the record, I am no big fan of John MacArthur and the theology he represents. God is alive and well and active among his people.

      I just wish that Pentecostals had better theological quality control. Of course, come to think of it, we could all do with better theologcal quality control!

      Thanks, K.W. for your comment.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        This tends to lead to people having an inflated sense of their spiritual significance. It also tends to lead to an unhealthy emphasis on spiritual techniques and formulas that supposedly accomplish God’s purposes.

        Isn’t that Magick with a K?

        For example, I don’t find in Scripture (or in the early church Fathers) an emphasis on figuring out what spirit to cast out and techniques for doing it.

        Karcism — Magick worked by summoning and commanding supernatural beings (usually demonic — as Chesterton put it, the evil Spirits have a rep for Getting Things Done). Difference between religion and Magick is that in Magick the mortal Sorcerer is the one calling the shots.

      • Oh course, the flip side of the coin is people get so focused on their pet theology or bible teacher (ex. the Gospel Coalition) they replace their first love (Jesus Christ) for a love of Neo-Calvinism, Barthism, NT Wrightism, whoeverism. They are as detached from God as the gift-focused Pentecostal. I went from a (not even truly) spiritual-gifts focused charismatic church to an in-love with TGC preachers (to the exclusion of common sense) church. If you didn’t tow their line, it was ascribed to your own personal weakness and the leaders at both churches did not appreciate anyone questioning their pet theologies or non-essential focus. So, I am past picking on various theologies or views of God/Satan. People have different views, how do they treat and view their family, fellow church attenders, neighbours, people, etc. That is the real barometer of faith in my view.

      • Randy: Fully agree with your response.

        I didn’t figure you were bashing all Pentecostals; just critiquing the ones I myself critique too often. But you know how others will take the opportunity to jump on all of us, MacArthur-style.

        The sloppy theology is bad enough, but ten thousand times worse is the gifts of the Spirit without the Spirit and his fruit. That’s why you see so much focus on exorcism techniques, and none on love, patience, gentleness, joy, and faith.

  6. Even if it were true, wouldn’t eating the candy still be permissible, like with food offered to idols?

  7. Paraphrase of a conversation yesterday:
    Friend: Our family is “kissing Halloween goodbye” this year. You know, it’s a satanic holiday that was appropriated by the Roman Catholic church to give the pagans an alternative celebration on the same day.
    Me: So, what are you doing tonight?
    Friend: we’re opening up our yard to the neighborhood kids for a Harvest Cider and a Pumpkin rolling contest. We want to give them a positive choice instead.
    Me: Wait, isn’t that alternative the same thing as what you say the Cath – – how is that any different than – –
    *head explodes*

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Real kicker when you consider Halloween (when All Saints’ Day moved between October and December) was a Christianization of pre-Christian harvest festivals in the first place.

  8. Randy Thompson says:

    Please note that the picture at the top of this article is not of me.