Sunday, October 19, 2008

Halloween Musings

Dale and I are in the midst of a 2 1/2 week road trip, making speaking stops and conference stops and putting some serious miles on Dante, our inferno red PT cruiser.

Tonight we made our home away from home at the Gray Goose Inn. As soon as I got out of our car, tired and stiff, I was startled by a floating old woman's head with stringy gray hair. My movement triggered the pre-recorded shrieking to begin along with red eyes and convulsing shakes. I was startled and then grossed out. (I know most normal people would just laugh at it all, but I couldn't--see below) She was rising out of a grave, a bloody hand also surging out of the soil. I looked up at the Gray Goose Inn, the Victorian trimmings completely creepyfied by this ghostly, red-eyed woman.

I grabbed Dale's hand (this is one of the unhappy inheritances of sheltering in my childhood--even corny scare tactics work on me--even at age 29) commented on the eerieness, shook myself and marched to the front door with him.

I'm sure the twilight didn't help at all when a happy looking Jack'o Lantern began howling and then laughing at me. I jumped and peered with annoyance into the leering face, some electronic gadget was working well inside. I wanted to smash the pumpkin as we listened to it cycle through 2 series of shrieks and laughs until the door finally opened.

I felt so glad to be inside.

What puzzles me is that people buy these spooky things, they think it's fun, part of getting into the "halloween spirit", I suppose. And I'm the type of girl who LOVES having any excuse to dress up (just ask my family). But the spooky, scary stuff you can keep.

After walking passed two voluptuous female mummies, seeing several lovely family portraits shrouded in spider webs and stopping before dipping into some snacks (the bowl of candy corn sported a stump of a hand in the center) I felt certain I had stumbled into Disney's inspiration for their Haunted Mansion. I kept hoping our room would be un-Halloween-ified.

My hope was not in vain. I sit and write this safely sealed away from spiper-webs and curvy mummies and shrieking witches in this "Room #5" a room with green ivied coverlets and gray gooses on the wall.

Dale made the comment that Halloween really is a pagan holiday. When I see people poking fun at scaring people and intentionally paying money for bloodied, shrouded, twisted looking maniquins, I have to agree.

I wonder if anyone else feels as weirded out and out-of-place as me? I wonder if the way I feel tonight is the way early Christians felt all the time....vulnerable, surrounded by pagan ideas that dehumanized their friends and family. Did they see friends coming back from the temple with hair shaven off and cuts on their body, proof of their devotion to Artemis? Did they witness the degredation of a sister turned into a temple prostitue? Did they watch as neighbors purposefully invested in acts that twisted their humanity?

I feel like, tonight, I can taste the alien-like feeling early Christians must have felt. It makes me glad that Halloween comes only once a year.

32 comments:

Angela said...

This is an interesting subject for me. My husband and I have had a lively debate over Halloween for the past several years. We've never really been able to agree on what to do for our own kids. He hates it. He wants no recognition of it whatsoever. He even hates the church fall festivals provided in lieu of trick-or-treating. I, on the other hand, don't see anything wrong with trick-or-treating, dressing up as Spider Man or Cinderella, and getting some candy. I guess I see that particular tradition as a more American thing, and so far removed from the original intent and celebration of Samhain. I also see Christmas as an originally pagan holiday (birth of the Roman sun god), but we've made that into a "Christian" holiday so it's okay. Do we have to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater? I don't know. I still wrestle with these questions myself.

Thanks, as always, for the thought-provoking post! I can't wait to read what others post.

Amy said...

I remember going through a haunted house that the shopping mall I was working in helped out with. It made me want to puke. I don't mind Halloween, trick-or-treat, or dressing up (because dressing up is awesome!) But the scary, gross stuff--so not for me. It doesn't scare me; I just don't like it. Although crazy clowns and psycho doctor scenes do freak me out. I think candy and dressing up is good, and for many people, that's just what it is. Sadly, many people seem to enjoy gross things (Like the movie Saw? I mean, people seriously want to watch people make torturous life and death decisions? Seriously?)

I guess a crooked and depraved world clings to the dark.

Good post, Jonalyn.

Myowne said...

Very good post, and I totally understand your feelings concerning the creepier elements of Halloween. Growing up I didn't really like Halloween (probably because we couldn't afford real costumes to march around in and I always felt like the odd kid out in my mom's souped up, homemade costumes) though I did like scary movies. But now that I am older (and hopefully, a bit wiser) I do not appreciate Halloween in any aspect. There is the sense that I should understand that kids like the idea of getting candy - no matter the holiday. But I do not agree with celebrating it, and in some ways do not think that the church should try to come up with some alternative, though I do understand that kids do not like standing out from their classmates that do celebrate. I don't know; I don't have children yet so I am a bit torn as to how I will address this when I do have a family. But as far as I am concerned I distance myself as much as possible from the creepiness because I really do not like seeing the gross representations people put out in commemoration of a pagan holiday.

Angela said...

Amy, you make an interesting dissection, and one that I am able to make myself. I guess I can separate the fun aspects of Halloween from the more sinister aspects. But my husband says that Halloween is basically "Intro to The Cult 101." His argument is that even the more "kid friendly" aspects are a gateway to the scary, evil, gross-out aspects, making those seem okay for us when we are older.

I am torn. I guess my question is, Does it have to be all or nothing?

I guess I throw Halloween in the category with what Paul talked about in Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8 and 10, and Colossians 2--food being sacrificed to idols, certain days being "holier" or I guess in this case, more evil. Don't be condemned by your conscience. What's tough in my situation is that my husband and I have two different consciences on this one!!! What do we do then?

I once had a friend who was seriously considering not ever saying the days of the week again after she learned that they were named after Roman gods. She justified her reasoning with Exodus 23:13--"...Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips." Now that's taking it a bit too far!!!

Isn't this why Christ set us free, so we wouldn't have to worry about certain festivals, days of the week, etc?

I've heard the argument that Halloween is a high holy day for Satanists. But just because Satanists worship/sacrifice on this particular day doesn't make this day any more evil or any holier than any other day.

As you can see, I've spent a lot of time thinking about this subject!!! :)

Di V. said...

Is it good for our souls to celebrate all Hallow's Eve as a preparation for All Saints' Day (Nov. 1) by mocking the devil and showing the his powerlessness after the victory of Christ? For really thoughtful commentary on this, see here (http://www.biblicalhorizons.com/open-book/no-28-concerning-halloween/) for a snippet of the Reformed perspective of James B. Jordan:

"The concept, as dramatized in Christian custom, is quite simple: On October 31, the demonic realm tries one last time to achieve victory, but is banished by the joy of the Kingdom.

"What is the means by which the demonic realm is vanquished? In a word: mockery. Satan’s great sin (and our great sin) is pride. Thus, to drive Satan from us we ridicule him.

[...]

"Similarly, on All Hallows’ Eve (Hallow-Even – Hallow-E’en – Halloween), the custom arose of mocking the demonic realm by dressing children in costumes. Because the power of Satan has been broken once and for all, our children can mock him by dressing up like ghosts, goblins, and witches. The fact that we can dress our children this way shows our supreme confidence in the utter defeat of Satan by Jesus Christ – we have NO FEAR!"

Really interesting stuff!

Anonymous said...

Jonalyn,

Brad Coleman taught this Sunday out of John 15, in relation to the culture of the world hating the disciples of Jesus. Brad spoke directly of how we are now entering a time in history where Christianity is no longer the dominant world culture. Persecution is not something that American Christians/ or Christians in the western world have had to experience as readily as the early disciples did. He explained that this is because Christianity was declared the world religion in 313ad (i may have may dates wrong, i am going off memory), but explained that in recent years we see the culture around us shifting away from Christian fundementals. He went on to warn us that we should not be alarmed when we feel persecuted and alienated by the culture around us. Although we are called to be at peace with all men, we simulaneously are warned by Jesus that we will be persecuted for our commitment to Christ. Anyhow,I know this is a tangent from what you were righting about but I just wanted to let you know that this blog remindly distictly of Brads teaching. Although Halloween is not a direct persecution, your commentary left me thinking abuot ways that we are able to recognize where our faith can isolated us from the dominant American culture... Personally, I have the same reaction as your to the gruesome fright tactics of the halloween season, and am alarmed at how the spirtual realm is made light of during this time, but simulatneous LOVE getting dressed up. Thanks for sharing. Be encouraged to know that the Spirit is revealing things to you that he is also revealing to pastors in California on the same weekend. Love from Laguna!
~Jenette

Jonalyn Grace Fincher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jonalyn Grace Fincher said...

Fantastic conversation thus far, everyone! Thank you for chiming in.

I have to say there is freedom on this topic as to what we "ought" to do.

Di- my main concern with this perspective is that I believe it is not a good use of our humanity to mock anyone (including the devil) not because Satan does not deserve it, but because I see:

1- no precedent in Scripture for mocking the evil one
2- the right to make a spectacle of evil seems to be God's right
3- the only reason I am protected from the evil one is because of Jesus' work and help for me. I would never want to incite or mock an evil being (Satan or demon) as a way of proving my safety or victory over him. I would never want to advise a child (who is often more vulnerable and still not certain what Jesus' protection means and sometimes)
4- I feel death, evil, demons are still very much forces doing damage among humans and there is much havoc wreaked by these forces upon those who do not know Jesus and even those who do. I would not want to incite more battles than already exist between us and the Evil One. This is not because I'm afraid of what evil could do to me, but because there are so many, many unprotected souls out there that need Jesus' shielding them. Won't they be harmed in this "mockery process"?

Jenette- thank you for making the connection between Brad's sermon and my thoughts. That's really encouraging! :)

On a tangent about dressing up: how many of you get bugged that Halloween is the one day of the year nice, lovely, appropriate women are permitted/encouraged to dress like prostitutes under the guise that "it's my costume"?

Ariana said...

I've thought about this one a lot. I know many people who are completely anti- participation, and I personally HATE the Halloween season for all of its ugliness. I feel sad that kids are being exposed to and encouraged to participate in all of the stuff related to death, terror, mortal danger, evil, etc. etc. I also don't endorse all of the candy eating... On the other hand, this is the ONE day each year where people in my neighborhood come knocking on my door! There is no way that I will miss this opportunity to get to know the people around me. I don't think Christians should be isolating themselves in this way.

Euodia said...

Have never really had a problem with Halloween, but not for any reasons you may think. Son #3 was born on October 31, so that's BIRTHDAY party day. We invite the whole neighborhood over for traditional cake and ice cream.

If Sam was born a day later or earlier, we'd more than likely observe October 31 by watching Ralph Fiennes in "Luther." If you recall, October 31 was the door Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, touching off the Protestant Reformation...

Arielle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jonalyn Grace Fincher said...

Ariana,
I agree with you, Halloween is a great time to open our door, meet our neighbors, get to know who we live among. Great point!

molly said...

We were anti-Halloween.

My oldest is 10 this year and we are "doing Halloween" for the first time.

It's an American holiday with purely consumer traditions. We won't be adding the "evil" element, as in celebrating demons, etc. We're just dressing up, eating lots of candy, and enjoying the fun parts of the holiday.

(If we want to freak out at something, it should be the consumer culture that we Christians are fully invested in and which is FAR more dangerous to our souls, says the Bible that is always warning the rich, than someone dressing up like a werewolf and handing out candy).

I guess I'm just tired of the fearful "it's-taboo" stuff that I was inundated with as a fundamentalist hyper-conservative. None of us celebrated Halloween, sure, but none of us were good at loving the unlovely, either. Ouch.

I think if God has to pick, He'd pick the Halloween-costumed neighbor who showers affection (and candy) on the neighborhood kids, instead of the woman who was too uptight to even buy one stinkin' bag of candy for the poor trick-or-treaters who came by her house (that, er, would be me a while back).

All of this is NOT AT ALL to say that I think your post had any of that in it, Jonalyn. It's just me, expressing briefly why I'm just so tired of the "anti" movement. I'm planning on thoroughly enjoying walking around our neighborhood trick-or-treating with my kids this year. No guilt. Just a bit of sadness that it took me this long to do it with them.

Julia said...

Interesting dicussion. My husband loves Halloween. He loves chocolate mainly, which is probably why he loves this holiday so much. We usually buy candy to hand out to the kids and watch a scary movie. (Read scary, not demonic.) I have a low tolerance to things that are really scary, so our movies are pretty tame. This year though, we will be celebrating with some friends who have kids. They'll walk around the neighborhood, get some candy and we'll have some time to hang out with friends that we don't get to see alot. For me, it's just another excuse to hang out with friends and enjoy their company. I don't have to be involved in the negative sinful aspects when it comes to "celebrating." Also, growing up my mom made us the best costumes and we always went trick-or-treating, so I have great Halloween memories. The only thing my dad worried about was checking our candy to make sure it hadn't been messed with. A little paranoid maybe, but I appreciate that now. However, I am always relieved when November comes around because that just means all the scary stuff goes away and more joyful holidays are just around the corner.

Ernesto Tinajero said...

One thing sad about this time of the year is that in Christian circles that topic of Halloween comes up and we forget the fall festivals, which could celebrate. The other night my wife and I were invited by a Messianic congregation to a Sukkot service
e. It deepen my understanding of Jesus. Sukkot is about remembering God's presence in the midst of the Harvest. I think that we have a longing to mark our days with festivals, and to often we let the culture around us form a secular Liturgical Calendar marking the season and turning our backs on our rich traditions. I wish we could go back to old Jewish festivals not as Law but Grace.

Jonalyn Fincher said...

Ernesto,
I could not agree more. My husband and I have celebrated a 3 course Passover celebration for Good Friday for the last 4 years. We love incorporating the Jewishness of Scripture into our faith. Aren't the feasts eye-opening, refreshing ways of adding centuries of Biblical ideas/rhythm to our seasons and more Messianic meaning into our understanding of Jesus?!

Deborah said...

Hi. I also grew up very sheltered (long skirts and pigtails, no t.v. save very select PBS, no sports really for girls so that I had not even seen a soccer ball before moving to the suburbs, no music with drums, no cabbage patch dolls or barbies, etc.) The restrictions were extremely hard on me, as I had no social life and was pretty much tortured at school (and felt about the same at home even if parental intents were better), but I am thankful for some of the extra senstivity that I've sometimes had as a result.

Sometimes I don't just think it's "Oh, I'm naive and easily spooked," but "Hmm... what did the Bible say about demons again?" And I don't just mean some aspects of Halloween but also SOME mainstream music, etc. The perspective we sheltered children have can be useful in some ways. When we're "in" the culture, it can inure us to the spiritual realities and subtly develop its strongholds in us (as I've since experienced). The trick is separating fear (whether it be of something genuinely scary or something that is different to you b/c your family considered it "evil") from discernment. More generally, the outsider vantage on pop culture is something that I don't think someone who grew up immersed can replicate. (I remember what a momentous occasion it felt like to finally view E.T. in my twenties, and of course, I saw Christ all the way through... ok, maybe not the douche-bag part).

As for Halloween, the first time I appreciated it was when my niece was a bunny and my nephew spiderman, and they had a blast. It seemed like a good, healthy memory day for them. After they circuited the neighborhood, they had a light saber and carrot-sword fight until dusk.

One of my friends recently commented to me that she used to be really into Halloween but that every year she has destroyed more of her "holiday" items. Now she is no longer taking her kids trick-or-treating. She just feels like the holiday has gone deeper and deeper into the occult, even in what she senses when she looks at the decor for sale at the local store. She feels she can no longer entertain a connection with it even though she is genuinely saddened by the loss. And this is coming from the buckle of the Bible belt where you might expect all that to be tamer.

Oh, and here is another cheer for the Jewish holidays!! Last year I visited a messianic family in New England for a Sukkot celebration. It was a special time, the absence of which I felt this year.

Jonalyn, I've been meaning to write you a note about your book. Chapter five was a good sounding board for me after writing a section of one of the books I am working on and wondering how committed I was to its conclusions. Thanks :) I also appreciated the fresh take on spirit, mind, will, etc. paradigms. I've heard doctrine on that stuff which made my insides frown with a little knowledge of the Heb./Gk. breakdowns, but I haven't had a marvelous alternative and haven't seen Christians take it on. Unfortunately (???), prior to reading your book I tacked it on to a book order (to get free shipping) for a soon-to-be bride. Since I'm already viewed with much suspicion in these parts (for such matters as having education and being 30+ single... not cool for a woman), I don't know that some blatant egalitarianism (and a more intellectual take than anticipated) in my book offerings has helped my standings ;-). God may very well have been in that though.

Back to halloween. Sometimes, despite my parents' wishes, I HAD to dress up for school. This was bad news for me. First I was strawberry shortcake, but nobody thought I'd dressed up. It was just a pinker/redder version of my usual garb. Likewise, my entrance as a bum was fairly indistinguishable from the norm (sadly). And, no, I did not get to choose those characters. It was my parents' way of resisting both expenditure and involvement.

Tito Tinajero said...

Thank you Jonalyn for your kind words. My wife and I always get insights in to our Lord through these Jewish festivals. It is sad we don't celebrate them. I saw the joy in the faces of the congregation as they dance and celebrated what Yeshua (Jesus) brought them. Sometimes we forget that Jesus also brought us the joy of living.

Heidi said...

This is a very interesting discussion...Right this moment our daughter Abby is at a neighbor's house for a Halloween party. They were going to watch "The Haunted Mansion", so I was all set to pick her up one hour after the party started because we weren't going to let her see it, which I explained to the mom. However, none of the girls wanted to see it, and they're watching a soccer movie instead. So she's still there. Over the last couple of years I've gotten more comfortable with not celebrating Halloween, but giving up the tradition of trick-or-treating was hard. It became less hard, though, as I became more sensitive to the grossness of the decorations and costumes. I just don't want to participate in a celebration of death and evil. We try to do something else fun instead.

Our church is very connected to the Jewish feasts, which has been really fun for us. I think that there is a lot of meaning and even timing involved in the feasts, and celebrating them helps get us into a new cycle each year with the Lord. I definitely have a sense of being in the world, but not of the world when my orientation is set to a different calendar.

catherine Illian said...

This had been a really lively discussion! Here is my take. I too grew up not celebrating Halloween, giving out tracts to trick or treaters, going to a "harvest festival" the next day etc. I've got to say I tend to agree with Molly on this one. Halloween as it is mostly celebrated (at least around us) is a cultural holiday like Christmas, Easter, or the Fourth of July. I don't plan to glorify any of the elements of gore or death. We do carve a pumpkin, dress our son in a costume (last year he was a hot pepper, this year he will be an angel complete with "real" (read feather) wings)
I feel like you could use the same arguments against Halloween (ie its a pagan holidy) to extend to Christmas, easter, new years, etc.

I do however really appreciate and respect the comments about adding Jewish holidays such as sukkot to our Christian calendar. After reading Lauren Winner's book about her conversion from Judaism to Christianity, I gained a new appreciation and respect for Jewish holidays and celebrations and the depth they bring to individual and corporate life.

Jodi said...

Joni, I had a similar experience at the mall. In the very front of the store, right next to the walkway, the Halloween store had the most horrendous half eaten, bloodied body with rats crawling all over it and the mannequin had a revolting tortured look on his face. I seriously thought I was going to be sick. I cannot imagine the utter terror (and probably serious mental scaring) my children would have had if they had been with me and had seen that image. I am calling the mall management tomorrow about it.

I always treat-or-treated as a kid and actually scoffed at other kids in my mind who went to "stupid church harvest festivals," but now that's all the involvement I will allow. I feel it used to be a fairly benign holiday meant for silly fun, and now it's become a serious business. I will not expose my kids (or myself) to walking evil.

Rosa said...

Hi Jonalyn! I just stumbled across your blog, and I like what I see! =)

I have to agree with you on your dislike of the spooky/gory aspects of Halloween. In many aspects, what was supposed to be such a beautiful celebration, the Feast of Hallowed Souls, has been distorted into something anything but beautiful.

Jonalyn Fincher said...

Deborah- another cheer for Sukkot. Good to hear about how meaningful this feast/celebration was in our life. I agree with you that sheltered folks can give helpful insights. That's partially why I wrote, because I feel that my perspective is similar to many children's. But, I've also found that for most of my childhood I confused naivety with godliness... Does it every bother you that so many "hills to die on" were made over nonessential things (like Barbie dolls and ET)? Glad you found Ruby Slippers helpful in the soul stuff! That strawberry shortcake costume sounds like it was picture worthy :)

Jonalyn Fincher said...

Heidi-
Loved your comment about how the feasts give you a new cycle each year with God. Appreciated hearing a live update on how Halloween celebrations have to change, depending on the activities involved. Good point!

Jonalyn Fincher said...

Rosa,

Glad you found me. Good to hear you chiming in. Hope you do so often!

Perhaps next year, due to everyone's encouragement, I will be celebrating Sukkot and dressing my corgis. Halloween never scares them as much as the 4th of July's fireworks.

Deborah said...

Jonalyn,

Did/do the many hills to die on bother me? Certainly. I just try to find things to appreciate too. As I'm sure you know, the cultivation of gratitude goes a long way toward being at peace with the world and your place in it. And although I perhaps underemphasized it in my post, I totally agree that when sheltered like that we can confuse naivete with godliness. Hence the need to separate fear from discernment. I think some of the comments in this election about Obama actually are an example of confusing naivete with godliness and being compelled to shout it from the housetops. Of course, this just gives the media something to focus upon that detracts from true criticisms of the candidate. But I digress.

As for your book, I wondered after posting if I should have mentioned the incident with my newly married friend. The fact is that my area is largely unready for these ideas, but I hope she will in time appreciate the book. Your delight in so many traditionally "feminine" activities as indicated by your personal stories and your (past/present?) desire to have many kids makes you a great bridge person. And I loved far more in the book than the soul paradigm (I really felt like I was talking to a friend and colleague in writing as I read the chapter on what femininity might involve--I think that was chpt five?--since that is something I had explored some in the first of two books I'm simultaneously working on and in more detail in an appendix to my second book). Last night I also watched your speech at Biola (you're a fun lady)and am interested in the topic of your next book--one I broach a good deal in the first of the two books.

Anyhow, thanks for sharing your journey. I think it is wonderful that God has given your husband and you a platform to speak to youth especially and to encourage them to embrace healthy identities. My heart really breaks.... I'll try to check back here for new posts in your blog.

P.S.--I already was a Sumner fan, and I REALLY appreciated Van Leeuwen's book on masculinity (which, incidentally, included some statistics on marriages in the buckle of the Bible belt which confirmed my observations here). Thanks for pointing me to the latter.

Molly Aley said...

http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/the-internet-monk-annual-halloween-rant

GREAT post by Michael Spencer (the internet monk, one of my favorite reads) on this very subject. :)

Deborah said...

The internet monk DOES have an interesting perspective given his background. But I personally still feel like the balance is somewhere inbetween. I think the Peretti stuff is part of reality. "Satanic ritual abuse mythology" just seemed like an odd statement to me b/c SRA is very real (I know some who have been victim to it). And Halloween is an active time for these other groups. Surprisingly, my redneck corner is wicca-rich (w/ a large wicca homeschooling movement in which spells are part of the daily lesson), and there is no doubt the ante is turned up at this time. So while I delight to see my bunny niece and spiderman nephew, my personal take on the holiday is at best ambivalent.

One of my other sisters does have her kids dress up but not to trick or treat. Instead they wear extremely "wholesome" outfits and hand OUT lollipops to the neighbors and say something nice, often with a God message. They won't take any candy. That's an interesting take; still, if you're going around I think most people really WANT to give their candy away (they could at least exchange candy perhaps). She's also pretty extreme about Christmas--one present from mom and dad, and everyone else is only allowed to give the kids Samaritan's Purse donations of their choosing. I get the point, however, that the kids already get too much to really care for at their b-day parties.

It's interesting to hear the variety of takes here. I know I felt a bit cheated growing up on all of the holidays (none were fully embraced by my family except Thanksgiving), and so it is interesting to explore the holidays with others.

SophieMae said...

Skimming the many comments here, I reckon I'm in the minority. Our son, who is about to turn 28, has never 'celebrated' this holiday. And we don't participate in any church's 'alternative'. IMHO, that's just compromising with the world. I think it sends a horribly wrong message to the kids. Well, kids, we're not supposed to do that, but we can fudge a little and do something similar. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody's doing it. I'm a firm believer in the just a little dog poo in the brownies philosophy. 8-]

And, of course, there's the issue of desensitization. The Church already is becoming more and more 'liberal' all the time. If HE is the same yesteray, today and tomorrow, why does the Church 'need to change' to fit the current culture?

I also believe that Christians are far too eager to listen to and follow those who say what they want to hear. It's uncomfortable to be convicted that we're doing something wrong. Well, So-and-so over at Such-and-such Church says that's hogwash from puritanical, closed-minded stiffs and it's really OK to do *****. I reckon we'll find out who was right after the rapture, when we see what churches need to find a new pastor. ;} Anyhow, if I'm going to err, I'd rather err on the side of caution.

Perhaps, instead of thinking... Christmas was originally pagan and that's OK, so H'ween must be OK, as well... we should be questioning our Christmas traditions. Just a thought. )*;*(

Have a JESUS-filled day! ^i^

Dale Fincher said...

We participated in Halloween growing up (Southern Baptist). We went door to door, gathering candy. My friends and I competed to see who could collect the most candy. Their parents were also more competitive with each other to ensure their kids had the 'better' experience (a competition I have only understood as an adult).

I won a costume contest in elemetary school at my Southern Baptist Church... second place as a pirate... the guy who won had a professionally made ewok costume. Darn him!

Haunted mazes and such were part of church too. I was never fond of them, as far I can remember. Then again, I wasn't fond of most things at my church.

I could relate to the internet monk post (thanks for posting that, Molly!). That was my childhood! Only he had 'fun' with Halloween haunted things.

Knotts Berry Farm has a haunted stint they do every year... it's like my childhood haunted house only for grown-ups. I went a few years back. Lots of girls dressed like the town mattresses. Lots of guys getting in your face with skeleton and grotesque faces. I didn't think Satan was after me. I just thought it was... well, dumb..., even when I got startled a few times with goblins jumping from the shadows.

I got arrested on Halloween at age 16, dressed in Army fatigues, terrorizing the neighborhood. Lots of teens did this. That night was the only night of the whole year we could be so outwardly rambunctious and walk the neighborhood without suspicion from others.

These days we carve pumpkins with friends. But I'm about as excited for Halloween as I am for Valentine's Day. Just weird holidays, to me, lame-o excuses for people to have community or be romantic.

In our little mountain town, nobody goes house to house on the blocks. Instead, downtown is closed off to cars and everyone spills into the streets. They go from from business to business collecting treats, drinking cider, enjoying everyone's company. It's the only time I've been involved in Halloween where community is a larger presence than fake spider webs and vampires.

I know some people actually find pleasure in being scared. I've never been wired that way. I don't understand that kind of pleasure, nor why people like acupuncture or noodling (handfishing).

I don't like the churchy 'reaction' we often give to cultural phenomenon. I think we should weigh Halloween on its own merit, observing what it really is as an American consumer holiday (second in profit only to Christmas) and act accordingly.

Enjoy what you can enjoy. Go without with what isn't helpful. Hide your black cat (which we had to do every year as advised by our vet...). Give each other freedom to engage their local places as they see fit.

But by all means (to go with the post), don't dress up your bed and breakfast with creepy things for your guests, especially when its in the woods by a dark lake! And don't put a dirty, stumpy hand in a jar of unwrapped candy! Ewww.

Last year our three corgis were dressed as the three little pigs, complete with curly pipe-cleaners. Jonalyn wanted me to be the big bad wolf. She had fun dressing up the dogs. I didn't want to be a wolf.

So I walked our town as an average white, male, 30-something in search of some cider, smiling at funny costumes, while towed by the three little pigs pulling tricks for treats.

Jonalyn Fincher said...

Deborah,
YES it was chapter 5 in Ruby Slippers, so glad that you could resonate with me. I'd love to meet you down the road... It's a boost to my spirit to hear that my stereotypical feminine traits help make the ideas in RS more palatable to others. Thanks for letting me know!
And really glad to turn you on to Van Leeuwen. She such a scholar and a great example of excellence in research.
It's a joy to work alongside Dale and watch him advocate for women and men partnerships. A total blast!
My email for future reference: jonalyn@soulation.org

Jonalyn Fincher said...

Deborah,
p.s. what are the books you're working on?