Yesterday on CNN, a guest was on a morning news program describing the current state of our economy during the recession. To my surprise, there’s a day of the year that hasn’t struggled during our economic downfall: October 31st. That’s right, Halloween actually been showing good numbers for the past several years. The sort-of-holiday is described as the only recession-proof holiday. Halloween is economically hallowed… but why?
It seems to me that Halloween, among other things, is a day when people escape into another reality. We masquerade in attire that takes us out of our own story and places us into an alternative narrative. Certainly we don’t want to be quick to judge folks that dress up (I have several times), but the idea of escaping our problems for one night of fun makes sense.
Yet I wonder what sort of stories some folks are choosing to escape into? Some costumes reveal deeply disturbing themes. Violence, death, and devils – just to name a few. And it gets worse, these sorts of costumes are now marketed to children! We don’t allow kids to step into a rated R movie but we’re quick to allow them to dress up like an ax murderer? By the time we’re adult we’ve grown up playing characters inconsistent with the character that God wants to form in us. Something here doesn’t make sense. Not only do we escape our lives to pretend to be something totally “other than,” but many of the sort of characters we play represent anything but who we really want to become.
This begs an important question: Who is it that we wish we could be? Rich? Powerful? Happy? Perhaps this simply illustrates that many of us wish we could be something that we’re not. Some people look at their lives and want to wear a mask that’s different than their current situation because “anything would be better than my ‘real’ life.”
Following Jesus is something to be done with our ‘real life.’ The story that we find ourselves in is the narrative that God wants to transform. Even when our situation feels challenging, the way of Jesus is a challenge to rise above circumstances as we determine to become more fully human. We can mask our story in an effort to find satisfaction, or we can allow the love of God to purge us of any impulse to ‘dress up’ as someone other than the person God designed us to be.
Just so I’m clear, I’m moving into deeper issues beyond if someone chooses to celebrate Halloween or not. I’m not advocating for or against the day, just thinking out loud about why Halloween is economically hallowed.
What do you think?