While thinking through issues is a good thing, I wonder if the evangelical community has “overthought” Halloween. Where do you draw the line between cautiousness and neo-Puritanism? I think that the locked doors and dark rooms that happen in so many Christian homes on Halloween night are symbolic of a thought process that has taken over Christianity. When did thinking critically turn into thinking controlled by fear?
I’d make the argument that the mindset behind the holiday is dominated by fear. While there are negative associations with Halloween, and while it does have a sketchy history, it isn’t an inherently evil holiday (anymore). It also hasn’t been redeemed by the Church on any level (although there have been vain attempts to turn it into “Reformation Day”); instead, it’s a holiday for criticism, unnecessary Facebook posts about its unsavory nature, and paranoia about Satanic influences.
It’s easy to participate in Halloween activities and to be neighborly without involving yourself in demonic rituals. What does it make us look like when we shut our doors on Halloween but walk proudly to the car, Bibles in hand, on Sunday mornings? Our yard decorations don’t need to embrace the darker side of Halloween. In fact, we don’t *need* to have yard decorations at all. Most often, things are as good or bad as we make them. I know that I quote this ALL the time, but Madeleine L’Engle said:
If you look for the Devil, you’ll find him.
I think it’s sad that we can’t enjoy a holiday without these kinds of obsessive, fearful thoughts. It’s not hard to look for the good in things…and there is good in taking kids trick-or-treating and in showing generosity toward neighbors. It’s good to get fresh night air and to walk. It’s good to show hospitality by hosting a party.
Embracing a holiday doesn’t mean we embrace all of it, just like we wouldn’t embrace the materialism of Christmas. Over at Behold the Hurricane, I was reminded of Truth…we strive for the good IN things, not just things that ARE good. We are deceiving ourselves if we think there is anything perfect in this world.
Madeleine has another quote on “tidy Christianity”…the kind I never want to find myself participating in.
What I believe is so magnificent, so glorious, that it is beyond finite comprehension. To believe that the universe was created by a purposeful, benign Creator is one thing. To believe that this Creator took on human vesture, accepted death and mortality, was tempted, betrayed, broken, and all for love of us, defies reason. It is so wild that it terrifies some Christians who try to dogmatize their fear by lashing out at other Christians, because tidy Christianity with all answers given is easier than one which reaches out to the wild wonder of God’s love, a love we don’t even have to earn.
Just thoughts… each person has to leave it up to his or her conscience. But we don’t need to avoid a holiday or make up an alternative holiday because we’re afraid.