Sunday, October 29, 2006

All Hallows

In the years before I had children, I explored several strategies for dealing with Halloween. These included attempts at abstention, replacement and even a mild form of protest. The point of exploration that I am now at, with my wife and kids as participants, is the full celebration of All Hallows Eve. Here’s why we now celebrate Halloween:

1. The historic roots of Halloween are very similar to both Christmas and Easter. There is a complex collision of ideas, cultures, calendars, theology and marketing involved in all three events. Like Christmas and Easter, that collision includes pre-Christian ritual, divine symbolism and cultural imperialism. Cultural imperialism is a big, strong and ugly version of cultural engagement. And cultural engagement is at the very heart of my Church’s vision (but it’s small, gentle and hopefully not too ugly).

2. Halloween is one of the best times of the year to relate to those you live amongst. How many other times do you go to the doors of dozens of people in your community and greet them? How many other days do they come to your house? Missing this relational opportunity because of some dark stuff doesn’t synergize with a savior who visited boozy, prostitute laden parties and entered into discussions in the middle of the marketplace.

3. Halloween is a tremendous tool of catechism: A stylized human face with light streaming out of it from a flame deep within. Garments representing good and evil spiritual entities, historical figures, heroes and villains. Giving something sweet to anyone who comes to your door without getting anything in return. Without even getting to the great-people-of faith aspects of All Saints Eve, there are a lot of tools to teach my Children about spiritual realities and Christian conduct.

4. Halloween is fun. I know that is a pretty weak argument on the surface, but bear with me. I remember being shocked and feeling great sympathy as a child when I discovered some of the children I went to school with had to skip out on holiday celebrations and their birthdays because they were Jehovah’s Witnesses. The witness I received from that experience was that Jehovah was a killjoy. Contrarily, I now know that he is the joy-bringer. I want to share that joy with those who don’t know it. I want to celebrate those aspects of their lives that are joyful already. And I want my children to learn to have a good time doing that.

Yes, there are evil dimensions to some Halloween celebrations. We need to be aware of this, pray and keep our kids safe. There are evil dimensions to the way other holidays are celebrated too. The increase in drunk driving, greed, depression and even suicides associated with Christmas does not make me throw away the celebration of the incarnation. Neither does the occult rituals that happen around the Spring equinox (Easter season). Devil worship and horror movies will not make me trash All Hallows Eve. My kids don’t dress as devils or devil worshippers. Interestingly, only one Child who came to the Halloween party my church sponsored at a secular Children’s indoor playground dressed as anything that could be construed as evil (a very kindly-looking witch). And most of their parent’s didn’t know the party was church-sponsored when they showed up!

I respect and understand the reasoning of many Christians who abstain from Halloween or make up an alternative. I’m not trying to force my perspective on you if you’re one of those people. I’m just sharing why my family celebrates Halloween and asking for your respect and understanding in return. I’m more than happy to talk about it, even if you strongly disagree with me.

All the best,


Dave King said...

Back in my IVCF days I organized Trickr Treating for the Food Bank where University and Highschool kids would go tricker treating for canned goods. I wore black, skulls with a battle ax. It was a ton of fun and did some good. It worked cause Halloween is the one night of the year that people expect you to come to the door and ask for food.

- Peace

don said...

thanks Rob ...