[Note: Today you’re likely to encounter creatures that are strange, shocking, and slightly scary (goblins, vampires, Lutherans, etc.). October 31 is both Halloween and Reformation Day, and since both sit uncomfortably side-by-side on the calendar, it seemed fitting to put them together—uncomfortably side-by-side—on this special edition of 33 Things.]
Halloween is the day when America market-tests parental paranoia. If a new fear flies on Halloween, it’s probably going to catch on the rest of the year, too.
Take “stranger danger,” the classic Halloween horror. Even when I was a kid, back in the “Bewitched” and “Brady Bunch” costume era, parents were already worried about neighbors poisoning candy. Sure, the folks down the street might smile and wave the rest of the year, but apparently they were just biding their time before stuffing us silly with strychnine-laced Smarties.
That was a wacky idea, but we bought it. We still buy it, even though Joel Best, a sociologist at the University of Delaware, has researched the topic and spends every October telling the press that there has never been a single case of any child being killed by a stranger’s Halloween candy. (Oh, yes, he concedes, there was once a Texas boy poisoned by a Pixie Stix. But his dad did it for the insurance money. He was executed.)
It was not Luther’s intention to divide the Church, much less to start a brand new church. To the end of his life, he considered himself to be a faithful and obedient servant of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. Though Luther renounced his monastic vows and married a former nun, Katarina von Bora, he never forgot that he had received a doctorate in Holy Scripture. His vocation was to teach the written Word of God and to point men and women to the Lord of Scripture, Jesus Christ.
For most conservative American evangelicals, “Reformation Day” is not a big deal. Many, if asked, might think it to be a special emphasis day for prison ministry.
Most of us know the day as Halloween instead (or something closely approximating it), even if we feel a little guilty about that. I’ll be away traveling tonight, unable to indulge the trick-or-treaters, so maybe I’ll just nail 95 Reese’s to the door.
But as one who grew up in a half-Catholic, half-Baptist extended family, October 31st is an interesting time for me. What would Martin Luther have done on that thundrous road if he’d had a background like mine? Invited Saint Anne into his heart as his personal lightning rod? Pledged to start a “True Nuns Wait” campaign?
When did sexy costumes become the norm?
In the 1970s. Costuming has been a part of Halloween since at least the 19th century, when Scottish and Irish children went “guising” house-to-house on in exchange for coins. The Victorians enjoyed a good costume ball on Halloween, and some daring get-ups, like Gypsy outfits, were popular. But risqué costumes were not pervasive until right around Gerald Ford’s presidency, when homosexual communities in the United States adopted Halloween as an occasion for revealing, over-the-top attire.
7. Quote of the Week: “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.” – Martin Luther before the Imperial Diet
An evangelical is a fundamentalist whose kids dress up for Halloween.
A conservative evangelical is a fundamentalist whose kids dress up for the church’s “Fall Festival.”
A confessional evangelical is a fundamentalist whose kids dress up for “Reformation Day.”
An emerging evangelical is a fundamentalist who has no kids, but who dresses up for Halloween anyway.
A revivalist evangelical is a fundamentalist whose kids dress up as demons for the church’s “Judgment House” community evangelism outreach.
A fundamentalist is a fundamentalist whose kids hand out gospel tracts to all those mentioned above.
12. Image of the Week: Knitted Skeleton
13. What about All Saints Day?
A friend familiar with a recent Orthodox-Anglican dialogue passed along some details of the proceedings, including that the Orthodox gave the Anglicans six steps or concerns that had to be addressed before talk of communion could be entered into seriously. For those with a truly ecumenical spirit, the fact that four of the six could be agreed upon immediately is source for some joy.
But one of the other concerns was the so-called “Calvinism” of the Anglican and broader Protestant churches. While the concern might simply be with a broader kind of Augustinianism, it would do us well I think to reflect a bit on the term Calvinism and it’s theological and historical usefulness (or lack thereof).
16. Infographic of the Week: How Dangerous Is a Zombie?
17. Martin Luther Rap
18. What happens when you drop a 1200-lb pumpkin onto a car
I am all for remembering our fathers in the faith. I am all for reading more Luther and Calvin. (Please remember some Wesley in the mix!) However, “Reformation Day” seems like Arbor Day (the seminal Academic Sanctioned Shindig) as far as a holiday goes unless the Lutherans add some beer, the Wesleyans write some Reformation Day Carols, or the Calvinists set up Servetus Trees or something.
21. HistoricalLOL of the Week
If I make contact with a skeleton or any other bones, as a Christian it is more likely to heal me than kill me.
If I meet a demoniac, it is more likely to be a chance to see God’s glory than the end of my life.
If I meet a vampire, it will more likely be a Dracula than an Edward, and I will be glad for the cross I wear.
26. How-To of the Week: 7 Websites To Help Inspire and Make The Best Halloween Costumes
When our boys were little tikes, we would take them to our church on All Hallows Eve for a fun-filled night of games and candy. We did this for years. I repent. We missed some major opportunities.
Halloween has become one of those holidays that evangelicals have shied away from. Another way for us to withdraw from the world. We are increasingly looking like our fundamentalist forefathers, whose cries of separation from the world marked them more than love.
How often do you get children to willingly come to your house—children you have never met before, children who are eager and willing to accept the gifts you have for them? What an opportunity for the gospel! Yet increasingly evangelical churches are having their own ‘Fall Fun Festival’ in place of Halloween. It’s certainly safer, but so is living in a cave.
Had Luther ever done this before—nail a set of theses to the Wittenberg door? If so, did previous attempts have any impact?
I am not sure if he had ever nailed up theses before, but he had certainly proposed sets of such for academic debate, which was all he was really doing on October 31, 1517. In fact, in September of that same year, he had led a debate on scholastic theology where he said far more radical things than were in the Ninety-Five Theses. Ironically, this earlier debate, now often considered the first major public adumbration of his later theology, caused no real stir in the church at all.
33.What Really Happened on Reformation Day