Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Halloween & Christian Superstition

Every year I am faced with some concern over the issue of explaining my observance of Halloween. You see I personally participate in Halloween, while many Christians abstain. This might seem like a blatant contradiction since Halloween is often portrayed as a "night of Satan" or as glorifying evil. Each year my concern is over my desire that my Christian friends understand my views on Halloween while my non-Christian friends understand my limitations with it. So here is an paper I wrote several years ago, revised for this blog, my take on Halloween observance.

Halloween Observance

Halloween, is a day that truly lives in infamy yet so many people have a fascination with the night and it's dark reputation. However, despite what some Christians think in practice it is usually a night of fun, excitement, good will toward children and kindness. Yet the context that Halloween is often portrayed in, with the back drop of paganism and the occult often proves too much for some Christians.

While I would never criticize anyone for abstaining from the holiday, I am always shamed as a Christian over the attacks on Halloween by other Christian believers. Especially those who claim it glorifies the devil and is purely a night belonging to the occult. I believe that it is in response to Christian objections that many actual pagans such as the modern Wiccans claim the day for their own, citing Celtic origins and such. To me it's all a little absurd when you go back and look at the actual history of Halloween. Neither side of this argument are really correct.

You see, my core objections to Anti-Halloween Groups is that they often do nothing but further propagate more and more superstition. Some have gone so far as to produce books and even an anti-Halloween video series or two. Many of these are pure conjecture associating the evil deeds of small counter cultural groups with the night itself. These are largely unfounded as these are merely isolated groups and not the whole of Halloween observance or our culture. Logically, it does not necessitate that Halloween is evil if a bunch of goofy or warped people decide they want to burn candles and do weird rituals. We must ask ourselves what actually does. So Christians, let's shed some the superstition shall we?

Halloween History Revisions

In reality harvest festivals have gone on all the way back to the beginning of agrarian societies, each lending their own credence and interpretation to the time of the year. Depictions of times of plenty and the stories of death and mystery that seems somewhat natural in the shortened days of fall. Further some have celebrated even dawning mask and such symbolizing various things both fun and sinister, an act that we see in multiple holidays in ancient culture and not just Halloween.

Halloween has only in recent times been doctrinalized by some occult groups and made to symbolize more than it really has ever been. This has been more a move on their part to run counter-culture to Christianity than based on any real validity. Therefore as well, Christians have further dramatized and gladly endorsed these claims. Moreover in some cases even exaggerating the verbiage of these groups to make the day more emphatically evil in the American culture than even earlier has been held. I mean lets face it, if the early English settlements truly thought the night was more evil, there would have been far more than a few witch trials folks. Although it seems to be the historic record that the New England Puritans rejected celebrations such as Halloween, there is ample evidence to conclude that other Protestant groups migrating to the colonies did not. When we look back to the colonial period we find both Christian and non-Christian alike practicing Halloween in fun, and enjoying myth and story which was no more evil than a mere campfire ghost story. Simple parties and simple games, that is all.

Considering the Macabre As Holy

Now, consider the season. The sky darkens earlier and the wind catches a chill, the world around takes on a tone of darkness as the earth is purged of its flourishing overgrowth. It seems that God has designed the world to display a tone of death each year. Imagine that? Why do you suppose?

Well it might surprise you that God himself seems to have a flare for the macabre.

"Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;

righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne." Psalm 97:2

Is it not that the fall season itself is designed by our creator to remind us of our mortality and the brevity of life?

"24 for "All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever."
And this word is the good news that was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:24

Would you hang this Christian art in your home?

Why is it that the macabre that is such a part of life ordained by our creator is often withheld from the Christian experience in our day. No symbols of death adorn our home (unlike the dark pictures of Reformation artist like Durer. See Picture.), no reminders of our mortality, and moreover no humor or making lite of death, because of the victory that God has accomplished for us. No, we cherish rosy things without a hint of black. So then we leave the witches and such to conjure all sorts of imaginations, their cause merely endorsed by Christian superstitions.

We must ask ourselves, are we guilty of cowering in fear? Could it be that we ourselves have given the devil too much imagined power over this holiday? Could it be that we have glorified the devil more than those who are walking their children around to collect candy? Finally, could it be that we hold more superstitions about the holiday than the people who are actually observing it do?

Halloween Rant: Well, let me rant for just one second!

It is always so troublesome to me to see Christians handing out tracts at haunted houses when there are so many other houses of ill repute. Why do they not stop by the strip club and hand out tracts about respecting women and the dangers of lust? Why not more tracts and production videos against the abuse of drunkenness and womanizing at bars? Why not tracts against liberalist churches who preach a warped view of the Bible and don't believe it? Better yet, why don't we drop the tracts and just talk to people and show them something real!

It's humorous to me that the more obvious culprits are ever before our eyes throughout the year while we like to attack Halloween because it's supposedly "blatantly evil". How shallow we are.

So What of Evil?

Right away some will so readily voice that I am ignoring evil and spiritual forces. For them let me give a brief reply. Personally I feel that Christian's have given too much credence to the power of the devil and that this is in fact MORE glorifying of evil than participating in Halloween. One of the reasons I do not fear such things real or imagined is that I believe Christ life and death mattered. It mattered so much that it bound (limited) Satan and his works in the world for the purpose of the spreading of the kingdom message. Some Christian's forget this. Christ coming and sacrifice removed the level of deception that Satan was capable of in the world before Christ. Here is what scripture says.

"Or how can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house." Matt. 12:29

You see Jesus bound the strongman. The fallen angels knew of their punishment:

"And behold, they cried out, 'What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?'" (Matthew 8: 29)

Moreover, they know that hell awaits them, a place "prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25: 41).

However finally, they are unable to stop the work of his true church.

"...I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matt 16:8b

Death has no power.

"O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" 1 Cor. 15:5


So now let us think clearly. What is really being celebrated? Candy? Dressing up in costumes? Scaring each other? Making lighthearted fun of scary things? In fact there is nothing here that is sinful. But in fact some of it might be good for us so that we are less superstitious and more mindful of the real evil that lurks within ourselves without the work of Christ in our lives.

This is merely my opinion. I invite your comments.


No comments:

Post a Comment