Every Friday in Sacred Space, Brad Williams explores the place of popular culture in the local church.
If this post ruins my street cred as a crusty fundamentalist, then so be it. I want to admit something to everyone: I love Halloween. When I was a kid, I used to alternate between dressing up as a blood-sucking vampire and a hunch-backed brain-eating zombie. (I was more in line with the “Nosferatu” style of vampire than the teen heart throb-wussy vampires of the modern genre.) I did my own make-up with minimal help from mom, and I would practice my vampire cape flourish in the mirror so I could be authentic. My only complaint was that I had to suffer with those awful plastic vampire teeth; those things weren’t fooling anyone, and I knew it.
From there, we would often head over to our local church where we would bob for apples and do cake walks. I remember that I also won “best costume” several times at those gatherings, and afterwards we would hit the neighborhood to beg candy from our obliging neighbors. In fact, this occasion was one of the few times of the year that they didn’t run me off of their lawn. I was notorious for riding my bicycle through the neighbor’s yard, oblivious to their crocuses and tulips.
Some Christians get extremely uptight about their children dressing up as ghouls and goblins. They also point out that Halloween is celebrated by pagans as the time when the veil between this world and the next is the thinnest, and so they have pagan rituals during this time to communicate with the spirits. I have friends who are Wiccan who will celebrate Samhain this year, so I know about those things. But just because a pagan does something for one reason doesn’t mean that a Christian cannot do it for another. After all, pagans all eat and breathe on Halloween, and I’m not going to stop doing those things just because they do them too.
I like Halloween because it gets people out into the neighborhood. I enjoy seeing my neighbors and their children on that night. We have a good time together. Most years, we form a roving candy gang with our neighbors kids and head off into other neighborhoods to loot them of their Tootsie Rolls and Skittles and such. It’s a good time. Sometimes, Christians give us gospel tracts with our candy, when they do, we talk to them about Jesus. If they only give us a tract and no candy, then we go back later and roll their yard. (Okay, we may or may not do that.)
So, do me and mine glorify the devil by dressing our kids in costume and roaming the neighborhood for candy? No, we surely don’t! God forbid! Rather, we are simply having fun with our neighbors, and they understand this. Most of them, anyway.
This leads me to the subject that moved me to write: Jesus Ween! Before I continue, let me say that I think Harvest Festivals are great, that I think handing out gospel tracts is great, and that I don’t mind if some folks choose not to participate in Halloween. But this, I cannot abide: “The world and its system have a day set aside (October 31st) to celebrate ungodly images and evil characters while Christians all over the world participate, hide or just stay quiet on Halloween day.” We emphatically do not celebrate ungodly images and evil characters. It’s about the candy, dude! And we enjoy goofing off with our neighbors. God bless you celebrators of “Jesus Ween” in your efforts to evangelize your neighbors, but let’s not pretend that your brother is somehow celebrating ungodly images and evil characters by wearing a Green Lantern costume, okay?