A Reasonable Middle-Ground For Being A Christian At Halloween

A Reasonable Middle-Ground For Being A Christian At Halloween October 26, 2015

Stampa

It’s almost Halloween, and kids everywhere are already bracing for the impending sugar rush that is about to commence. This is also the time where Christians sometimes begin discussing the holiday, often leaving the impression that there are two options for the Christian.

Of course, the fundamentalists go bonkers at Halloween; last year someone gave me a tract that said it was the high-holiday for satanism and that cats would disappear throughout the neighborhood as the satanist conducted their yearly sacrifice (maybe Satan is a dog person too?). So, safe to say that most fundamentalists will be hiding out with the front lights off as if Halloween were that first night of passover where no one wanted to be caught outside when the spirit of death came.

Progressives on the other hand are also prone to have strong opinions on Halloween, which can often be summarized by “lighten up, folks.” Since the fundamentalist response can be so over-the-top and based on make-believe facts, I can appreciate the “lighten up” argument, but also find it to be somewhat shallow. For me, I am a Christian who stands somewhere in an awkward middle, recognizing that both sides have a worthwhile point.

Halloween isn’t a satanic holiday– it’s one that has both pagan and Christian roots. The reason why it has both is because most holidays have both– including Christmas, Easter, etc. The early Christians did this strategically as a way to influence culture; instead of creating something new, they found ways to take existing pagan celebrations, and slowly turn them Christian (in this case, the Christian holiday is All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints Day).

However, the expressions we see in modern culture at Halloween are anything but Christian, and this creates the awkward middle where I find myself.

A few years ago I was hosting a colleague from India as we were both speaking at a conference in the week leading up to Halloween. As we drove through town, she was shocked at some of the Halloween displays– the depictions of violence, darkness and gore. She turned to me and asked, “how is it that your culture can’t see there’s something wrong with this?”

Honestly, I didn’t have an answer. The reality is that our cultural expressions at Halloween have grown so extreme, that it should (in my mind) be prompting a different set of questions for us. For example, just a few weeks ago a dead body was found chained to a fence– but people didn’t report it right away because they thought it was a Halloween decoration! That’s not the first time this has happened either. Previously a woman who committed suicide was left hanging in a tree because people thought it was a decoration, or then there was the case of a 75 year old who shot himself on his balcony but was left there for days, because everyone thought it was a Halloween decoration.

Here’s the deal: if Halloween has become a holiday where actual dead bodies are ignored as decorations, there needs to be force within that culture subversively pushing against those expressions. Of course, I think that’s the role of a Christian– to be people within a culture but not products of that culture; people who seek every opportunity to inject beauty into the world around us.

I would hope that if we’re actually confusing murder and suicide victims with decorations, Christians of ALL stripes and flavors would come together and say, “Yeah, something about this isn’t right. Maybe we should be an alternative expression to this kind of stuff.”

So, should Christians hunker down in fundamentalist bunkers until Halloween is over? No.

Should Christians be people who participate in Halloween in the same way as the violent and gory culture around us participates? I would submit the answer is also, no.

There is a middle ground on the issue of Halloween that I hope more Christians will find. Halloween is an opportunity to spend time with family, friends, your kids, and your neighbors– and I’d hope Christians wouldn’t pass up those opportunities; Jesus certainly didn’t. However, we can participate in ways that do not further contribute to the extreme expressions that are often seen at Halloween. We can even participate in ways that counteract it.

While Halloween isn’t some satanic holiday, there is something very dark in the way our culture adorns on it– and as Christians, we’re invited to be the light of the world.

So, find ways to go be light on Halloween!

Have fun with your kids. Spend time with your family. Use the opportunity to interact with your neighbors and the other children in your neighborhood. Load up on enough free candy that you’ll be set until Christmas.

But as Christians, may we find ways to do it differently than how others do it.

Let us, the people of Jesus, be out and about at Halloween. However, instead of expressions of death, violence, and darkness, let us use the opportunity to bear witness to life, beauty and goodness.

Part of our job in this world is to inject beauty whenever and wherever we find the opposite– and I see no expression that needs a beautiful alternative more than the darkness and gore expressed at Halloween.

unafraid 300Dr. Benjamin L Corey is the author of the new book, Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith. You can preorder your copy today. Details are right here.

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  • There was a church here in Winnipeg that would set up ‘stands’ at the street corners in their neighbourhood. There they would serve Hot Chocolate for parents and candy for the kids. They didn’t agree with Halloween but instead of going insular and having a strictly Christian alternative for their own congregation inside the sanctuary — they went out into the community to love and to serve.

    Personally, I felt this was a brilliant way of being a middle ground.

  • Shiphrah99

    The older I get and the more I learn, the more I appreciate the traditional celebration of Dia de los Muertos – emphasis on the traditional. Once we get past the macabre, the concept of remembering and honoring our loved ones is really appealing. Besides – marigolds and candy, costumes and papel picado!

  • meadowhawk

    While I do agree that the violence associated with Halloween is over the top, I wouldn’t go so far as to argue that all the violence and gore is necessarily a bad thing. Take haunted houses for instance, the point is to intentionally scare and creep people out using this kind of stuff, but because no one is harmed it becomes a fun thing and a way to get an adrenaline rush.

  • Guy Norred

    And to be fair, I think that if anything is Satanic, it just might be the image of God presented at many of the Christian alternatives–a cruel narcissist who will give you an eternity of unimaginable torture if you don’t choose the right time to beg him to not do so.

  • Tammy Spake

    My 14-year-old daughter last year at Halloween: “I just love Halloween; it’s the one day that we really feel like a community.”
    I think she gets it. :)

  • Herm

    To be honest I’m no less conflicted than any other follower of Christ regarding Halloween. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience All Hallows’ Eve from most every perspective allowed one born in the USA in the mid 40’s. Statistics show that trick or treating was safer in the 50’s for children (pre doctored candy, razor blades and child abductions) when it was literally an imaginative party time freely shared with the peers of my youth.

    I must now always consider my gifted rules of thumb, commands of the Messiah, to determine how I should act in any given social atmosphere; Matthew 5:43-45, 7:12 and 22:37-40. We all, as mankind, have eaten of the fruit, now coursing through our collective veins. We now are responsibly privileged to discern from our knowledge of good and evil to choose to act accordingly as Muslim, Jewish and Christian held to a standard; the will of God.

    The same imagination we must use to discern spiritual divinity in our lives, as responsible loving adults, is the less developed imagination I see in our children necessary for them to eventually discern where they choose to stand within the spectrum of good and evil. Our children, as do we adults, must have an outlet to confront safely their beloved imaginary too super heroes as well as their all too frightening demons. If God had wanted us to remain in a perfectly controlled safe environment the story of Genesis would have never left the Garden even after the unlocked and loaded fruit had been fully digested.

    From within my imagination I had considered, because I love them so deeply, locking my children permanently in a sterile environment where I had control to keep them mentally, spiritually and physically safe and healthy to my standards (parental will?). God could have easily done the same with us. I am so very thankful God chose not to. If They had we, mankind, would have remained well loved healthy pets forever but, instead, 1,885 years ago we were introduced to the opportunity to become actual little children of God, sisters and brothers of Jesus, for the remainder of eternity.

    I could easily continue to develop through my over active yet developing 71 year old imagination, thanks be to God, this train of thought to help us all arrive closer to the truth of Halloween. I’ll spare us all the exercise (did I just hear an “AMEN”?). It is better that we each responsibly imagine our given environments to best help our children, throughout our respective communities, to face good and evil in this upcoming celebration of confronting the Devil (the most destructive enemy I’m told to love) and our most divine and constructive family of God who I do so most love to be a little part of today.

    There is middle ground between constructive good and destructive evil where we can choose to destroy the stigmas keeping us from becoming most constructive in our relationships and then replacing them with responsible love for our neighbors as we would have them love us. Without our imaginations to project with, inspired by the Spirit of truth, we simply could not make tempered choices without actually trying out good and evil simultaneously to see which one works … impossible for we die from evil with no more choices ever to make.

    My feelings are that Halloween is an opportunity to exercise our imaginations, even my still childish one, with the least damage when moderated by the commands of my Lord to do in love. For those among us who do not trust our Father to protect them from evil remember it is written, with the Dove to lead, Jesus met directly with Satan first, all alone in the wilderness relating in accordance with, and an example to, His later issued commands. So too can we survive the devilish in our midst with and in the Holy Spirit counseling us as Jesus’ little sibling students. Let’s make it an imaginative, happy and constructive Halloween for all who are receptive to share in kind! Love us all!

  • Matthew

    Thanks for this balanced suggestion Benjamin. Where I live in Europe, Halloween is still considered pretty much an American thing, but it is slowly creeping into this culture as well.

    I heard once that in years past some pagans believed the costumes worn on Halloween were designed to keep evil spirits away. I have no idea if this is true, but if it is then what a twist indeed! The fundies don´t need to be so uptight anymore.

  • Or worse yet damns some to eternal torture before they are even born. Yes, I talking to you Calvin.

  • RustbeltRick

    Doesn’t every culture discuss, display, and act out the things that they are collectively afraid of? Whether that’s monsters in fairy tales or spooky dances around a tribal fire or decorating your house in goblins once a year, I think we are all participating in an experience of attempting to manage our fears by confronting them. Perhaps an anthropologist can explain this idea better than I. But I certainly don’t think US culture is unique in talking about fearful things.

  • Guy Norred

    Agreed, though I was thinking of those attempts to scare people into conversion that has nothing to do with spreading good news.

  • otrame

    In anthropology class, Halloween was described as a “reverse” day. Many cultures have reverse days, though they are not like Halloween.

    Most days we don’t go door to door begging. We think violence is bad. We don’t want to be monsters, etc. But on one day a year, we reverse all that. There is a sense of the loosening of bonds… but only within certain limits and only on that day. When we pretend to be evil we gain a sense of control over evil. That’s true even if the “evil” is just not-following-social-norms.

  • Proudscalawag

    A Martin Luther quotation points to a good use to make of Hallowe’en: “If the devil will not yield to texts and Scripture, the best way to drive him out is to jeer and flout at him, for he cannot bear scorn.”

  • We have a local haunted house that I participate in. I used to shun all Halloween and then the Lord placed friends in my life that love the holiday–even in its goriness. He told me to just be with them, work the haunt, enjoy their friendship, love don’t judge. And it’s been really good for all of us. He needs his people in all places, I think.

  • liberalinlove

    Whatever we do in love, we do with the idea to not be a stumbling block to others. Whether that is fellow Christians we may be mentoring or the neighbors who are watching how we live. Otherwise, we are free, and are not to use our freedom to bring ourselves or others into bondage.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Halloween is short for “All Hallows Eve”: it’s original point, as I understand it was that it was the night before All Saints Day on 1 November (although I could be getting the exact feasts muddled) and all the witches, devils and such like have their last wild fling before the dawn when God and the saints triumphant drive them off to hell.
    If you want a Christian version of it, whilst still embracing all the fun of the ghosts and ghouls and goblins aspect, a key part would be taking off the costumes, putting away the decorations (and finishing off the candy) and using them to remember that, thanks to Jesus, for all their scary appearance the powers of darkness really have been rendered an impotent joke that can scare only children.

  • Theo

    I would make another suggestion, which is use it as a time to do interfaith work with pagans or witches, many of whom celebrate the holiday Samhain (sa-win), which acknowledges darkness and celebrates ancestors. It can feel a lot like a combination of memorial day and saying goodbye to the sun for the season. For some, it’s the most important holiday of the year and/or the beginning of the new religious year.

  • Matt Arnold

    This is such a refreshing article, having waded through so much stuff written by Christians that is factually incorrect (and bearing false witness as such!). I’m in the UK where in the past 20 years we’ve seen the Americanisation of Halloween come in (well, we gave it to you first, so you’ve done something with it and returned it back to us :)). My children celebrate Halloween, and went around our cul-de-sac with their friends to do gentle trick-or-treating (to only people we knew who we’d asked if it was ok to do). Kids love a little scaring at times, as long as it’s a safe scare (in the same way as adults ride roller coasters for thrills).

    We do, however need to teach them about the whole celebration of All Hallows and what is actually supposed to be a remembrance, thanksgiving and celebration of those saints who have passed on and have joined the “great cloud of witnesses”. We will be holding a small ritual after a family meal in order to remember our ancestors and give thanks to God for them. It’s sobering and important to remember the fragility of life and be thankful for it.

    I finally managed to write a post which attempts to do something similar to the one above, but goes into a bit more detail in order to counter the massive amount of false information that some Christian sites have put out. It’s available here: https://godofgreenhope.wordpress.com/2015/10/17/halloween-remembering-our-ancestors/

    Thank you for writing this article which I see as part of the tide turning against false fundamentalist information which is embarrassing to the Body as it’s so easily researchable and provably wrong.

  • Matt Arnold

    I have done a lot of interfaith work over the past three years with the Pagan communities and agree, there’s so much we can learn about how to give thanks for our ancestors and the changing of the seasons. I now have a greater appreciation of the seasons and actually welcome this time of rest and restoration before the promised Springtime again :).

    If you’re doing interfaith work then it would be good to chat if you’re up for it.

  • Don Lowery

    Then…you have fundamentalist churches run what they call “hell houses”. Used to have neighbors who used to do this every year. Believed they were scaring people out of a physical hell by showing those in community what happens when whatever “sinful” behavior was in vogue at that time would do to you and how you would end up in hell for doing it. Even “King of the Hill” had an episode about this with Kathy Bates as the “church lady” who got Halloween banned in Arlen. Was funny when Hank and the rest of the party did Trick-or-Treat anyway as she was calling the police to get everyone arrested.

  • Well you could make an argument that church is at least ‘serving’ an audience, you really can’t qualify that as love (even though I know they would). It just doesn’t meet the qualifications of 1 Cor 13 love which frankly is the same love.

    I mean more often than not when I see people doing things like that and calling it love, all I can think of is The Princess Bride.

    “You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means”

  • Brandon Roberts

    nice article honestly i never viewed halloween as “evil” at all it’s just a fun holiday and costumes are just costumes

  • Bones

    Wonder if people have tried that with ISIS?

  • Father Thyme

    I’m dressing as Jesus this year.

    Happy Halloween, Jesus!
    awkwardmomentsbible.com/happy-halloween-jesus/

  • Eve

    How proud of you as if God owes you eternal life.

  • Eve

    Hmm I don’t know, just because it “feels good” doesn’t mean it is good. The goriness and violence of Halloween is wicked, these are not of God, they are not peaceful I mean I don’t think passing out candy on Halloween is a “sin” but to partake in gory or violent displays even if they are “fake”, I do believe it is wrong. Remember the battle we fight is spiritual.

    I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.

    Psalm 101:3

  • Guy Norred

    On the contrary–everything I am, everything I have, everything I do, everything I owe to Him. God owes me nothing which makes His love all the more wonderful.

  • Julie

    I have to agree with the people who say that cultures have holidays, stories, and images that help them collectively look at the horror and death in the world and think long and hard about it. Turning it into a festival gives you a sense of control. I think it’s important. I suppose the sexualization of the violence and the those people who get a real rush out of just the gore and scare of it are bad…but…as Niebuhr said, “Religion is good for good people and bad for bad people.” I feel the same about Halloween.

  • Eve

    I misread your statement lol. I thought you were making an argument for God being a tyrant rather than one of which he is presented as such by those who hate him or misunderstand Christianity.

  • Bree

    I agree. I think taking a day to remember our loved ones is healthy.

  • Guy Norred

    No problem–I do the same thing all the time–misread that is–if you find me calling God a tyrant please do call me out on it. :-)

  • Proudscalawag

    It might be interesting…

  • Geoffrey Howe

    Dark humor and ‘celebrations of gore’ are oftentimes how people deal with tragedy. I’ve heard people who work at hospitals who will both crack jokes about their patients dying, and later, report that they need to binge on cartoons or alcohol after having watched a particularly terrible death. Their jokes about patients dying aren’t to disregard their suffering, in fact they’re too aware of such suffering that they have to find some kind of outlet to deal with it.

    The reason we can mistake actual dead people for decorations is because those decorations of the dead in some way help us cope with that tragedy in the real world.

    Or for a less dramatic perspective, we like to be scared, but not want to have to deal with the consequences of that fright. Being scared while knowing your perfectly safe can be fun for some people. The idea of people dying is terrifying, but in order to isolate the fun ‘scare’ from the terrible truth, we put up fake dead bodies.

    You’ll have a hard time finding a single halloween enthusiast who isn’t terrified by those suicide victims being mistaken for decorations. Because for all the darkness and gruesomeness, Halloween ultimately means bringing light to the darkness. We look Death square in the face and we laugh. And that can mean a lot to some people.

  • Geoffrey Howe

    Oooh, not many people go around in a Lich costume!

  • Geoffrey Howe

    While I… heartily… disagree with Martin Luther, I like his sentiment here. Sometimes, the best way to deal with the darkness, is to make light of it.

  • Geoffrey Howe

    There’s a difference between God ‘owing’ someone eternal life, and God being merciful enough to not torture me for Eternity.

    You’re the one who used the phrase “Eternal Life” here. If I’m not given the gift of eternal life, then why do I live on eternally in Hell, instead of just passing into nothingness? Why the torture?

  • Geoffrey Howe

    I’m not too familiar with the holiday, but what little I know of it makes it sound like quite the quality holiday. I’m not sure i’d like to exchange Halloween for Dia de los Muertos, but it would be neat to fit in both on the calender.

  • Robert Conner

    Middle grind this:

    http://www.joemygod.com/2015/10/27/christian-activist-former-barbwire-columnist-ted-shoebat-again-calls-for-executing-all-gays-video/

    When are Christians going to do something about terrorism in their ranks?

  • Nixon is Lord

    Halloween is boring. Christmas is a freak show and Thanksgiving and Easter completely pointless.

  • Warren

    last year someone gave me a tract that said it was the high-holiday for satanism and that cats would disappear throughout the neighborhood as the satanist conducted their yearly sacrifice (maybe Satan is a dog person too?).

    The cats aren’t the ones being sacrificed…

  • annie

    FLAGGED!

  • annie

    Well you’d be wrong about that homer. If you are speaking of YOUR VERSION of truth…What you perceive as truth is quite offensive. I noticed you EDITED your post? Haven’t seen you on Charisma lately. Good.

  • annie

    No the last sentence where you mentioned your neice and your homosexual desires. You know what you posted.

  • Eve

    Not really both assume that God owes something. Regardless the Bible does not claim that sinners will be tortured for eternity only that they will experience the second death, which will be eternal.

    What’s the opposite of eternal life?

  • Geoffrey Howe

    Actually, I agree with you there. It’s just shocking how many people think “Eternal Life” doesn’t count when you exist eternally in Hell.

    I still have other points of disagreement, but it seems that we agree on the main point I raised, so I’m all set for now.

  • I totally understand your point of view. Most of the stuff is just jump scares and surprises, but we do have some gory rooms. Ultimately, it’s just for the fun of the community.

    Also, remember, Jesus came fully into the most gory, horrifying, pain and fear-filled place and immersed himself in it–humanity on Earth. He is our example of simply bringing himself into a dark situation and being light and love. That’s how I see working the Haunt. It’s about the people, not about the Haunt. The Haunt itself is superfluous.

  • Robin

    Statistics show that razor blades in candy and poisoned are an urban myth, fueled by mass media paranoia, stranger child abductions have always been exceedingly rare and are at a 30 year low and accidental deaths for children at an all-time low due to safety standards in toys, helmet and seat-belt laws and better road infrastructure. As a contemporary parent it riles me to hear baby boomers laud the “safer times of their youth” when the only thing making our neighborhoods less safe is insular and unwarranted paranoia making us scared of our neighbors. Want to keep kids safe on Halloween? Make sure they carry a flashlight and wear reflectors and glow sticks, because cars are the biggest Halloween hazard.
    Educate yourself: http://www.snopes.com/horrors/mayhem/needles.asp
    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2014/1204/Why-20-year-drop-in-crime-is-more-impressive-than-it-seems

  • annie

    Omit the oxy. Yes, I know your a moron. You know you edited it and there is a screeshot as proof. You are foul. Wonder WHY you were removed from Charisma? Hmm. Can’t imagine.

  • axelbeingcivil

    Sort of an inevitable conclusion for any omniscient, omnipotent being, though, ‘innit? Unless you believe in universal salvation, of course.

  • axelbeingcivil

    Either way, you have to confront the notion of a God that’d condemn people to oblivion of one sort or another. Relatively better is still less than good.

  • axelbeingcivil

    All things are what you make of them, friend.

  • axelbeingcivil

    … Well, that’s quite a series of statements.

  • Herm

    Thank you Robin. I knew one of those children in 1982. I do agree the risks are relatively low but none the less I still fasten my grandchildren’s seat belts. I knew a child thrown through the windshield, also.

  • M.Boughan

    Yup… find a way to use this time to engage our neighbors.

    For 36 years our house has had a 7 foot tall Jack O L’Angel outside. A pumpkin headed shining angel. Children come up the walk to signs that read, “There are no ghosts….or devils here….we’re a house of Love….not one of fear.”

    Children receive loads of treats. Adults get coffee or tea or hot chocolate. And we have natural conversations with people about why our house is different. Last year, three 10 year old boys walked away talking about how nice the people were at our place and that it must be because we loved God.

    If your conscience and the Spirit tell you to not participate, or to spend time in prayerful spiritual warfare, then that’s what you should be doing. Others may feel the call to challenge the darkness in a very specific way. Let’s support them too.
    I’d love to see an army of Jack O L’Angels in front of Christian houses across North America to proclaim the light of Christ on this dark night.

    Maybe this isn’t a “middle ground.” Perhaps it is shifting the very ground. What I do know now is that thanks to me putting this on another site, at least 3 more Jack O L’Angel home outreaches will be happening this Saturday night. For anyone interested, I’m the President at Emmanuel Bible College in Kitchener, Ontario, and I’ll email photos of what it looks like to you if you want to give it a try.

  • Kevin

    This is a very good article. However, I would take issue in saying it isn’t a “satanic holiday”. For some (those aspiring to celebrate evil), it absolutely is. Much the same as July 4th is our [US of A] celebrated day of Independence, yet is not a holiday for any other countries.

  • dcidice

    I’m one of those Christians that likes Halloween. I always have and not once have I ever felt the need from God to change or that I am doing anything wrong. I decorate the house, watch scary movies , go to Halloween parties and YES, I do indeed enjoy putting a fake dead body in my yard. Blood and gore doesn’t bother me and I think that if there are Christians who want to celebrate Halloween, that’s great! The Christians who don’t and want to, that’s fine too. To me and many others, Halloween is a time of fun! Something I feel many “fundy” Christians don’t know how to have unless it involves a church service, followed with freaking worship song with a side of judgment. What I don’t think is right is when the Christians who don’t celebrate Halloween try to tell others that they are wrong for doing so and that it’s “not very Christian”. Those kind of people need to mind their own business and be quiet! As Christians we don’t all have TO BE THE SAME. So many of these “Boxed Christians” think we have to say the same thing, watch the same kind of tv shows, THINK THE SAME WAY, worship the same way and so on. Only God knows what’s in people’s hearts and it’s really between you and God. So to those Christians who want to hide inside from the supposed “satanist” or witches, I say GOOD! More fun and candy for the rest of us! The night will be so much better because we don’t have to hear you complain about it. Leaves those of us who want to have a good time and pretend, and YES, get bloody with our costumes or decorations alone. Happy Halloween everybody!

  • GayPirate

    Call it what it is, you want to celebrate evil. That doesn’t make it a Satanic holiday. Derp.

  • GayPirate

    Considering that the original purpose of Jack ‘o Lanterns was to SCARE away evil spirits, your little change is very amusing, and contradictory to your own point. Oh Christians. Will you EVER bother to research what you take before you fiddle with it?

  • GayPirate

    Samhain, All Hallows Eve, came BEFORE All Saint’s Day, so it can’t have been their “answer” to it.
    Churches don’t help anything by holding Halloween parties. Pagans don’t celebrate Samhain with Christians, as you have a habit of caricaturing us and bringing in dumb elements of your own religion’s negativity into a holiday that is, first and foremost, intended to celebrate HUMAN spirits, of loved ones and ancestors, and to celebrate the beginning of the Pagan calendar.
    On Samhain, we do cleansing spells, we visit graveyards, or set up altars out of respect for the dead, we make plans for the future (similarly to “resolutions” at secular new year). We eat cake, drink cider, spend time with family and friends as we celebrate life, and honor the dead. There is nothing that we do that is evil. Jack O’ Lanterns were made to scare away negative spirits. Costumes were made to hide ourselves from them. These things came out of the belief that the veil between this world and the next is thinnest on this night.

    YOUR Satan has nothing to do with Samhain, or indeed ANY part of Pagan religion whatsoever. He never has. He never will. The only connection is the imagery of horned Gods STOLEN by early Christians, who perverted them for personal use in slander-conversion (“Look! Your God is actually not a God, but is in fact a being that used to serve my God. We call him “Satan”, and he’s evil. So if you worship your God, you’re actually worshiping Satan!! Come worship my God, who is not evil, and will give you nice things when you die. Also, look, what a coincidence, we have the same holy days, how about that!”
    This is a horrific practice, and analogous to me photoshopping a picture of Jesus, then saying “Look! Your ‘Jesus’-guy is actually an evil being that caused people to slaughter the innocent. In my religion, we call him “Mfwalthar”, and he’s evil. So if you worship Jesus, you’re actually worshiping Mfwalthar!! You should come worship my Gods, who aren’t evil, and will let you come back to life after you die.”).
    Isn’t it about time you finally stop trying to shove your devil guy into everyone else’s face, as if you can just make things happen by repeating them enough times, or insisting hard enough?
    Horned Gods =/= Satan.
    Satan is YOUR boogeyman, NOT ours.
    Most of us don’t even BELIEVE in him and you cannot worship that which you don’t believe exists.

    Whoever wrote this book you referenced is a moron who either heard about history through the telephone game, or didn’t bother looking into it at all and just made up whatever s/he wanted based on rumors.

  • M.Boughan

    Hey Pirate- Not sure about the contradiction. But yes, you’re right that the very use of the pumpkin in such a “topsy-turvy” manner DOES make an intentional point.

    The core values of Christ are extremely counter-cultural. Early Christians were accused of “turning the world upside-down.” And hey, it’s humorous in its own way as well as the key to much humor is the incongruous becoming apparent.

    Do all Christians act in a Biblical counter-cultural way? The way of love? The way that brings grace into this world? The way that reflects the character of Jesus who – I hope you will at least allow – was a pretty fine person even if you don’t accept any further claims.

    No. That is disappointing. We see lots on harshness at times. Lots of living out of personality and desires and emotion without temperance. On the other hand, as I certainly lack perfection in myself, I am willing to go along with it in others who are trying. I would hope that you too would desire a world in which grace and love and – perhaps – truth were honored.

    It’s interesting that you set up a straw-man figure of some sort of ignorant Christian that you, perhaps, truly believe to be the case. I’d love to discuss a wide range of research with you. What topic? :-)

    Please remember that in the sciences (hard and social) that research is still subject to theory and supposition brought to bear to make sense of the data. It sounds like your and my response to the data of life and existence have us moving on diverging tracks. But maybe we really aren’t so different from each other as we try to make sense of this world and our place in it. Hey, I won’t belittle you or your efforts if you’ll extend some similar courtesy to me. All the best, my friend.

  • Lynn

    I wish our society would be more accepting and celebrate both halloween and all hallowed saints day the day after. This is the time when we remember those who have died who we loved and those who made a difference for good in our lives and our world. Even Christians seem to forget the value of this day. Some Churches no longer offer the service any more.
    A month later we have thanksgiving which should also be a time to thank God and others who have helped us to have a better life not the on your mark, get set, Go for shopping.
    The Holiday I refuse to celebrate is called Black Friday.

  • I have relatives who volunteer at their church’s “Judgment House”. They used to invite me but I thought my laughter at the horrible acting and script would make them mad so I declined. (I’ve read their script. It makes the movies of Ed Wood seem like Shakespeare!)

    Halloween is fun. People dress up and have fun. I’m not a fan of the macabre and usually dress up as a fireman or a superhero or something like that. Why do fundamentalists take everything so literally and ruin everything fun for everyone else?

  • Don Lowery

    Much of it has to do with fundamentalists who aren’t making others miserable (look at their image of their god)…then no one around them can be happy or enjoying life. Fear/misery breeds more fear/misery.

  • JohnE_o

    They certainly are a series of words separated by spaces and punctuation marks, aren’t they!

  • I saw the story about the woman ignored on the fence, too, and cringed. There was a time when people would call the police because there was “hanging body” in a yard, only to realize it was a decoration. Putting the words “hanging body” and “decoration” side-by-side should be jolting to us.

    So, I agree with you that we should neither hide nor take part in the gore. Here’s my own take: http://www.faithbraised.com/…/lets-have-some-wholly…. For those enjoyin the fun of Halloween, “The focus is to have fun not promote fright. Keep things light and point to the ‘hallowed’ aspect by dressing and decorating appropriately. A simple rule of thumb here is to aim for whimsy and not horror. If anything depicts cruelty, it’s over the line and not appropriate. This eliminates blood, gore, and worse, including ‘Christian’ haunted houses that depict horrible accidents and the like.”

    Godd post!

  • When it comes down to it, an angel would probably be best at scaring evil spirits away.

  • Eve

    How is God not good because he chooses to condemn people to eternal death. does God owe anyone eternal life? Why, what did they do to earn any life at all let alone eternal life? I think you are under the impression that somehow you have a “right to existence” I am here to inform you that you do not.

  • Eve

    I mean ultimately it’s up to you since the Bible clearly does not comment on Halloween celebration all Christians must use their own discernment of the Scriptures to determine if they celebrate and to what degree they do so. It is of my opinion that the blood and gore of Halloween celebrates death and violence whereas as Jesus’ “gory” death conquered and defeated it when he rose again. But like I said I wouldn’t call it sin (even though I think it is wrong) to celebrate with gore and such because I think that is legalistic rather I would just say pray about it, read Scripture and let each Christians determine the matter for themselves.

  • Maria

    Good argument. I think that people use Halloween as an escape valve for what they don’t do the rest of the year. And there are all sorts of people. However, in general, I feel that if Christians (and other believers) were to join the party, we would see a much healthier Halloween. But because so many stay out, one sees a higher percentage of the ‘outliers’ who are people who want to dress up to shock as a means to call attention, which they don’t get the rest of the year. If believers joined the fun with full force creativity, we would see better costumes (women wouldn’t seem like prostitutes and men wouldn’t seem like psychopaths).

  • Maria

    I’m Catholic. I see these few days differently. Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican cultural feast with a sort of connection to our deceased ancestors in a light, positive way. Dia de Todos los Santos (All Saints Day) is on Nov. 1 to remember all saints that went before us, and Dia de los Fieles Difuntos (All Souls Day, but literally ‘All Deceased Faithful Day’) is Nov. 2 to commemorate the faithful who already passed to the eternal life before us.

    I can see why after the Reformation, anything Catholic would be deemed as satanic by the countries & cultures that opposed it, in part for theological reasons, but mostly for corruption or political reasons (on both sides).

    It’s not a coincidence that anti-Catholic sentiment shows up on Halloween. On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther (a former Catholic priest) posted his 95 theses on the door the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany,

    We seem to have outgrown that antithesis sentiment (at least we are not killing one another anymore), but during Catholic feasts, I notice a backlash. They are always ‘satanic’. And the more these feasts are attacked, the more secular people see them as ‘evil’. Maybe the costumes available for sale are worse because of this, in part, but mostly because of profits. Maybe we can change this.

    I hope some day, others will join in the feast (or at least not have campaigns against them). Also, that some believers with enough funds will invest in amazingly creative costumes that are not ‘dark’ – or offensive to women – to be made available for sale. Halloween in the U.S. would be different then.

    My mom was from the northwest of Spain, and I’ve seen photos (not hers) of Halloween celebrations with jack-o-lanterns, etc. circa 1917. In their area, these were old Celtic (pagan) celebrations of nature. I don’t see them as ‘evil’, just as ‘pre-Christian’, as much a pre-Columbian Native American celebrations. There is a huge difference!

  • axelbeingcivil

    If you create an intelligent, thinking being, and then condemn it to a lifetime of fear, uncertainty, and suffering, and then destroy its existence, how can you be called in any way good? That is torture and maliciousness on the grandest of scales.

    Also, if you don’t believe that people have a right to exist, you must have a very curious view of laws and humanitarian aid. Unless, of course, your worldview is entirely self-interested and based on divine fiat, in which case… Hey, at least you’re consistent.

  • Matt Arnold

    Wow – such wonderful fantasy storytelling. I’m incredulous that Christians are using material written by Christians who have done sloppy research and are quoting that as gospel truth. “Witches Day”??? Never in all my journeys with the pagan community have I ever heard of anything called “Witches Day”, and that’s straight from the source’s mouth. I do worry when people quote books called “Spiritual Warfare” as being academically researched pieces of literature… They’re mainly written to make money for the author and the publishing house at the end of the day. The more juicy the information and story, the more people buy it.

    I don’t think Christians help witches by celebrating Halloween. But… Let’s take a look at that sentence and see if we can redeem its meaning? Can Christians help witches? I believe so. Can witches help Christians? In my case, I have found that I’ve been sent back to my own faith and sought further about the One I worship and learned a great deal I didn’t previously know. So yes. I believe contact between the two can be mutually beneficial. It certainly looks like the writer of this entry has very little experience with actual living witches, and if he has, he certainly hasn’t bothered to listen to what they might have to say, otherwise he wouldn’t make such factually incorrect statements.

    Werewolves actually exist? Maybe in the Buffyverse but not in any reality that humanity exists within. Given that they don’t exist, I wonder what an actual “very realistic werewolf mask” would look like? What media source would be its inspiration (like the almond eyed greys originated in mainstream society’s concept of what an alien looked like after Close Encounters of the Third Kind).

  • Matt Arnold

    And the rest of the world stands back and all it sees is people who wear the Jesus label calling others “morons” and trying to pin them down as paedophiles and into incest.

    And Jesus does a facepalm at you and shakes his head.

    Why are you so unlike the One you profess to follow? And you wonder why no-one wants to be a Christian, when they see your example here?

    Maybe you should listen to the words of Christian singer Grovery Levy:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7CllkFgPKM

    If you want to lead me to Jesus you’d better find another way, ’cause your life is speaking so loud I can’t even hear a word you say.

  • Matt Arnold

    Ah yes, the old Jack Chick tracts. I’m afraid to say that the only thing Jack Chick tracts are useful for is for recycling. Better still, don’t print any at all and save the paper for something more in the language of the people of a 21st Century culture.

    He is a purveyor of lies I’m afraid to have to say, and that’s breaking one of the ten commandments. His “facts” are not, when genuinely researched in a spirit of study (studying to show oneself approved of God), facts, but fables.

    Even some of my more ultra-conservative evangelical friends had to stop using them when they actually read through them, researched, and considered how they would feel if their children were given such awful material.

  • Matt Arnold

    Yep – every group of people attracts its share of total fools. There’s nothing Christian about what this chap is saying and one day he will give an account for the murderous threats against people made in the image of God.

    As followers of Jesus, I’d say that we have to educate these people before their cancerous teachings and lies spread throughout the body.

  • Thanks! I am writing from our perspective here in Tanzania. And for sure, witchcraft is nothing to “play” or joke about. It is real and serious and deadly. Never has it been more important to shine the light into the darkness. Don’t imitate the darkness. http://themongers.blogspot.com/2015/10/whats-harm-in-witchcraft.html

  • simplymagic

    Death is a part of life. Violence and gore is frightening, and I believe Halloween is a chance to explore those fears (and others, like our terror of transgressive sexuality) in a relatively safe way. It’s a chance to laugh and dance with those things that terrify us in the long nights, when our animal brain remembers a time when things really did go bump in the night, and our modern brain is saturated with the latest news of human-shaped monsters. The need for catharsis is quite natural and universally human, and there’s nothing horribly wrong with that. Those deaths are tragic in and of themselves, the holiday didn’t make it so. And the whole darkness=evil and lightness=good trope has some rather unfortunate racist overtones that demand examination.

    How unChristian is all this celebration of death and bloodshed? Personally, as a child I found crucifixes far more disturbing and jarring than any Halloween decoration. It’s not unsusal to find Christian art that takes a ghastly turn – many artists felt compelled to depict, in gruesome detail, the deaths of martyrs and saints as a way of drawing closer to those who came before. Then there is the strange and often beautiful Momento Mori, the medieval practice of reflecting on death. Take a look at some of those images and tell me death doesn’t play a huge role in the Christian imagination!

    A more modern example than those above would be the Mexican folk saint, La Santa Muerte. Though condemned by Church officials, this saint is held dear by Catholics of many walks of life and on both sides of the border. She is especially beloved by those that society consistently fails to protect from death and violence, and is known to answer the prayers of those typically rejected by the Church, but who nonetheless identify as Christians. She is Death, and she is not the enemy but rather a loving mother whom devotees believe can bring them a most prized blessing… a peaceful death.

    Every Sunday, I celebrate and worship by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the God who died amoung us, and rose again after three days in a tomb. Death is woven through the very fabric of the Christian religion. It must be… it is the one truly universal fact of life. All religions, all cultures, wrestle with it. I believe it is only problematic when it isn’t done mindfully. I don’t believe it is wise or effective to deny the intimate role death and violence plays in our lives when we have such rich traditions to draw upon. It strikes me as rather petulant to be so resistant to something so perfectly universal. Denying death is not the same as embracing life. Life is as bloody and disturbing as it is beautiful and inspiring. To love life is to hold these uncomfortable parts with the same tenderness as one would hold one’s child.

  • Wynter

    What a beautiful response. And I wholeheartedly agree with your final sentence. But here’s my problem; usually the ones who go so over the top on Halloween celebrating – even reveling in – the blood and gore aren’t (I suspect) interested in exploring the uncomfortableness of death and holding it like a child. They love and get off on this stuff. As to Christianity’s particular focus on death (i.e. our worshipping a dead Jesus pierced and bloody on a cross, not to mention centuries of its iconic representation), I cite Jurgen Moltmann who wrote “the cross is not and cannot be loved”. In a sense we as Christians are called to explore this and all death contemplatively, but to expand beyond that to the light and life that follows. Halloween has seemingly gotten to a point where we are given the excuse to massage the deep, disturbing fascinations of our souls. Yes, it is not a black and white, either/or issue. Yes, we must sit with discomfort and hold tension as gently as possible. But no…we must not delve so deeply into the ugliest extremes of death and violence as a means of proving our own spiritual “enlightenment”. Not sure that’s what you meant exactly, but thank you for such an eloquent and thought-provoking comment. Great stuff!

  • simplymagic

    I will only quibble by saying this: something that seems disturbing and dehumanizing for one may be beautiful and healing for another, and I personally lack the ability to read others hearts so well as to know for sure which it is.

  • annie

    Awww.

  • Nixon is Lord

    Wow-even rape or being mugged?

  • axelbeingcivil

    I suppose so. I’m not really comfortable applying a cheery generalization about enjoyment of aesthetic, though, to what are commonly highly traumatic and sometimes even life-altering experiences.

  • Anchovy Garbanzo

    As an atheist, a group often cited as lacking “moral compass”, I wonder what moral compass compels anyone of any religion towards violence.

  • SkippingDog

    The coarsening of culture has certainly included many of those who claim to have “Christian” values.

  • RustbeltRick

    When you take anything out of its full context, you can make it appear odd or meaningless. As an American, I don’t fully understand the Mexican Day of the Dead, but why should my inability to grasp it nullify the meaning that Mexico obtains from that holiday?

    You met folks from India who found Halloween dark and disturbing. I believe their culture also has some legends and customs that, to us, seem very weird and macabre when we apply only surface understandings. But we all should strive for something beyond those surface impressions; the fundamentalists have shown us why that approach is problematic.

  • Claire Frances

    Darkness is a part of life. And without the darkness you cannot even see the light. So perhaps instead of whinging about how ‘dark’ Halloween is you should take your head out of the sand, stop deluding yourself (depression is a thing, all life ends, darkness is everywhere etc etc on dark themes) and embrace the darkness because it comes for us all eventually. Halloween is a time to make light of that and face up to the theme of death, because it’s part of life. It’s healthy to see blood and gore because blood and bones sustain us. Halloween is a time to reconnect with all our ugly truths, we are just bones and flesh, we will decay and we will die.

  • Richard Lambert

    *atomic
    eye roll* Im
    tired of holier than thou Christians swooping in like some ominous
    raven because they felt convicted that it was their “christian duty” to
    inform me that i am tutoring my little niece in worshiping the devil
    because she wants to dress up as a ninja and go candy raiding…..THIS
    IS WHY NOBODY LIKE US! Crap like that!!! ….im not exactly sure what about halloween is specifically
    worshipful of the devil…black friday (though not actually considered a
    federal or traditional holiday) has more satanic and evil connotations
    associated with it than halloween ever
    did…but heres the thing, on black friday, you dont have to be one of
    those low low price crazed duchebags running people down and into and on
    top of the displays….so on halloween, spend the day however you feel
    is most edifying for you, your family. Spend time with your kids trick
    or treating, there are other costumes that arnt witches or demons, or if
    your just dead set on thinking that halloween really is the devils
    holiday then do something else and dont worry about, the devil is not
    hiding behind a jackolantern waiting for you to let your guard down so
    he can convert you to halloweenism!! And for the love of God…dont
    pester people who do go out trick or treating…even if you think they
    shouldent. No matter what you believe is right or wrong, you cant
    control what other people think and do any more than they can you. And
    if you think the day is so dark, bring a little light into it….God
    knows the world can use some on ANY given day, not just Halloween!
    Bottom line, the devil dosent hold a monopoly on any particular day, or
    on what the day signifies, or what YOU do on it. In order for the devil
    to have power, you have to give it to him…….so i guess…like…
    maybe as far as has to do with you, dont give him so much credit….further
    more, i think its worth reminding everyone that Christmas was invented
    based on a pagan holiday, but we took it and made it a day thats
    (…suposed to be) characterized by generosity, good will to our
    neighbor, and to honer the day the Christ came into the world….so do
    that with halloween =) …or dont do anything, and leave everyone else in peace. Which ever….

  • Albert Magnus

    Most cultures have some sort of ‘day of the dead’, especially as winter is approaching. Samhain (pronounce like sowl-win) means End of Summer and is when the ancient Celts believed that Veil between the worlds was thin and they could commune with the spirits of dead loved ones. It was also their ‘New Years Eve’ and fires and lanterns (jack-o-lanterns?) were lit to scare away evil spirits. They and modern Wiccans (Witches) don’t even believe in satan and this Sabbat (from the French word for frolic – NOT like the Judeo-Christian SABBATH) night has nothing to do with ‘devil worship’ or evil. Much of this dark overlay was put on it by the church when Christianity took over and put All Saints’ Day Eve (Halloween) there to ‘replace’ it. Most of our modern day Halloween customs were brought here by Irish immigrants. Only fundamentalist “Christians” ignorantly turned into devil worship – it is not! And let’s face it we all love scary ‘stuff’ sometimes, books, movies, tv shows and a good ol’ Halloween party! As Wiccans say, Blessed Be!

  • I agree that there’s a problem with the violent imagery, but not just at Hallowe’en. It’s pervasive throughout the year; just think of how skulls are now just another design element. There’s a bigger picture here that we’re missing and need to deal with. There’s nothing wrong with a fun family time, as you suggest, Benjamin. And if we focus on the treats and set aside the tricks, we can indeed find a way to honour Christ on “All Hallow’s Eve”. Why, we might even go as far as to celebrate “All Saint’s Day” by remembering the “Saints” that stood up for their faith throughout history and the good, holy people in our lives that make every day special. Folks like you, perhaps, Benjamin.
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

  • Jacqueline Bohr

    Didn’t pick you as the creativity police Corey, have you been in a catholic church? The place looks like it has been art directed by quinten tarentino. Not to mention the blood and gore stories in the bible which challenges your idea of godly narratives.

    So what do we get next week? A lecture on how corey will allow people to celebrate Easter and Christmas that is acceptable in Corey,s sight?

  • Lachlan Galavin

    Exactly. Halloween is a nice counterbalance to Christmas. THAT is the holiday dedicated to beauty and light. Halloween is a day of the dead, and really lets you play around with your darker side, all in fun, of course. It is, personally, my favourite holiday. Don’t make Halloween the opposite of what it’s supposed to be, thanks.

    If you want to express Christian divinity, wait until December. It’s only a few months after.

  • Brandon Roberts

    tbh my view on halloween is let people have their fun, this is one day a year you get to put on a costume and let go of most restraints and get candy and this goes for both sides

  • John Thomas

    Halloween is SUPPOSED to be dark. Every culture has its own way of addressing people’s worst fears, like violence, death, and gore. Halloween, and the macabre manner in which we celebrate it, serves a very specific cultural function. Not everything is about your damned religion. Stop trying to turn every holiday into some alternative version of Christmas.If you don’t like it, don’t participate, but DON’T try to remake it in your own image the way Christians, as you pointed out yourself, always have.

  • Ivan T. Errible

    Why is church so boring?

  • Halloween celebration is always at the peak on October. People never realized about these. They love the candies and Halloween food to celebrate hallows eve. By the way, this is a fantastic article to remind those people about the health and love to see those Halloween pictures which provide some goosebumps.

  • Linnea912

    My former church actually had a Samhain observance every year. It was hosted by a woman who had studied the ritual in depth and who took the time to get it right. It was a wonderful experience the few times I was able to get there.