Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Boo... humbug?

If I had to sum up the discussions I've had over the years about Halloween, whether online or in person, it would be impossible to make it a summary, because it would have to include most (if not all, and more) of this list:

Christians and culture.
Engaging the culture.
Divorced from culture.
Contextualing the message to impact the culture.
Cultural Christians.
Carnal Christians
Using Scripture to back any position.
"All things to all men"
"Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God"
"All things are allowable but not all things are profitable"
The weaker brother.
Liberty in Christ.
What about the children!?
Sheltering children.
Good clean fun.
Being balanced
Bad research

Usually, beginning around the first of October folks begin the googlistic ritual of "Christians and Halloween" and/or "should Christians celebrate Halloween?" It never fails, and it never takes long to find a forum, blog, web page or newspaper article that either confirms your position on it, or challenges it - either with hard hitting facts or a bunch of wacked out hype. Its the internet, there is no shortage of wacked out hype, on any subject.

this is Pyro, my kitty, and he doesn't celebrate Halloween eitherOur family doesn't participate in either Halloween, or any of the other kinds of "replacement" traditions that are held on October 31 (Although if there were a Reformation Day Festival, THAT would be cool and we'd sure like to attend something like that - as 10/31 is indeed Reformation Day, and the festivities would be a God glorifying thing to do with the kids). For us however, it's just another day, and this year happens to be on a Wednesday and we'll be doing what we always do on a Wednesday. We also live in the country so we do not have little Sponge Bobs, Doras, Vampires or Witches coming to our door. Admittedly, we simply don't have much "pressure" to participate and I'm grateful for that.

What I've always found interesting about this discussion, is how the "children" are always brought up. In exactly the same way "the children" are brought up whenever the topic of predestination is being discussed among a mixed group of Calvinists and Arminians. Its an emotional plea tossed into the conversation to make you feel like you're a heartless pig, if you don't side with the opposition, for the sake of "the children, WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN!"

Okay, I have seven of those. The thing is, not one of them has ever had to dress up in a costume and go knock door to door (or attend a party, or community event) to aquire boatloads of candy via the ancient art of begging, only to be harfing all the way to the bathroom at 1 am (which is always a favorite past-time of mothers who are half asleep and stepping in it as they attempt to clean it up) because they ate too much of it - to ever have a well balanced childhood, filled with social activity and warm fuzzy memories. I can assure you, stepping barefoot in recycled Milky Ways, Junior Mints and Resse's Peanut Butter Cups (snack sized my eye! they might be snack sized going in, but the clean up is nothing close to snack sized) is not required for a happy childhood.

We did participate in Halloween when the older girls were younger. Our last year of participating, our oldest was 12, followed by her sisters who were 9 and 5. They "did" Halloween every year and oddly enough, when they talk about happy childhood memories, Halloween events are almost never mentioned. Instead they talk about people we knew, places we went, places we lived and other fun things we did. Our daughter who was 5 at the time, doesn't even remember it. Our youngest four who are now 10, 8, 7 and 4, have never participated in it.
Yet, folks will still insist that your kids must be allowed to partake of this event to be socially well adjusted, have happy memories or just have a good time.

For the most part, I don't even read the "Christians and Halloween" articles anymore. I know there are some really good ones out there, well balanced, well researched and gracious toward the reader regardless of which side he or she takes on this issue. Here's one of those articles at Grace to You. Most of whats written though is not very well balanced, and will quite often leave the reader with more questions than answers.

I also avoid (for the most part) open forum discussion on it (whether at blogs or discussion forums) because it seems this topic just cannot be discussed in the way that GTY article is written, and without all the elevated emotions & accusatory tone, from both sides of the issue. It can get so ugly there's no need to buy a costume!

I would like to suggest that wherever you are with this, to make it a matter of serious prayer for you and your family. No matter what we're doing or not doing, there's always a way to improve on that for God's glory. Amen?

Oh, and you know where I'll be Thursday morning. Those same stores that hire the marketing geniuses that advise them to stick those Halloween displays of candy, costumes, fake blood and plastic pumpkin buckets right in the front entrance of the store, start popping their ready made "50%-75% off!" signs all over that same stuff. Oh yeah... big ole bags of chocolate at reduced prices? Yep, I'll be there.