too much hell for halloween

29 10 2014

What’s Halloween got to do with the church, I was asked last week. Makes you think, doesn’t it. 

We live in a society of escapism. Much of our society does all it can not to think about things that don’t make us feel good. Like death. Especially death. Instead of facing it with confidence, maturity and hope, we suppress our fears, then binge on it at Halloween. We make it ridiculous, outrageous, therefore disempowering it from having a hold over us. Hahaha, we say, look at ghosts and ghouls and axe-murderers and blood and fear and how we are not frightened of you. You’re not scary! You’re only in films! Evil is all made up! Touch wood.   

We show how so not frightened of evil we are by facing it in costume. Like soldiers dressing for battle or Batman donning his mask, we feel emboldened by hiding ourselves and becoming other. We dress as the deformed or the mentally ill or the demonic or simply those that strike fear into the hearts of everyone else – not us, of course – and we laugh in the face of evil. Or we would, if we believed it had a face. 

I believe it has a face. That is why I cannot join in.

It has a face, and especially this year. Not in the way the tabloids find an individual and call them the ‘face of evil’, as they periodically do.

Evil has a face when millions in Iraq and Syria and Central African Republic and Sudan are forced to be refugees, when hundreds of thousands are killed in war, are murdered by ISIS; when there are so many dead we cannot count them.
Evil has a face when children in your and my neighbourhood are abused.
Evil has a face when domestic abuse happens round the corner.
Evil has a face when corporations evade tax yet pay pittance.
Evil has a face when the disabled are discriminated against.
Evil has a face when people look at child abuse images for pleasure.
Evil has a face when a teenager is stabbed on a bus in broad daylight.
Evil has a face when someone is raped.
Evil has a face when I look in the mirror.

I cannot celebrate that. I cannot bring myself to gorge on the Dark Side, to wallow in that which brings hell and death, because though it might seem like innocent fun like wallowing in a mud bath suddenly we realise it is a bath of crap and we’re covered in it. 

We Christians tell a different story. A better story. In our story we take our masks off and look evil in the eye – even when it is within ourselves – and know that Jesus has the victory over it. It will not win. We do not need to make a mockery of evil and death in order to deal with it, because we face it confidently and maturely every day, by not burying our head in the sand but getting involved in the world in which we live and being a part of bringing the kingdom in. 

What has Halloween got to do with the church? All Hallows Eve reminds us of the presence of evil and hell and death, but more than that it reminds us of it’s imminent destruction because of Jesus. We celebrate salvation and we celebrate the goodness and grace of God, for he is the light of the world that casts out evil and darkness and death. Focus on the light.

There’s too much hell in real life to make a joke of it. 

….

See also Harmless Halloween by me and Halloween: Harmless or Harmful? by J John.

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6 responses

29 10 2014
MsXpat

Well said but I’ve often wondered where the church stands on Halloween. Its it acceptable or right to celebrate or not. We don’t celebrate it really. Because to my mind there is nothing good or right about it but then if son has a dress up at nursery I do let him get involved or if I see a cute t-shirt I’ll but it. I’m kind of half in half out in this case not knowing what to stand for…

30 10 2014
Kevin

I’m not against a bit of dressing up, to be honest, because it can be ‘harmless fun’, except when it isn’t! Sometimes children need to engage with being scared, that’s why we watch films and even as grown-ups we scare ourselves, and that’s fine. But it’s a case of finding the balance.

30 10 2014
Hope

Amen!

30 10 2014
fireflyby

I so agree with this. I too can’t bring myself to join in any of the ‘harmless’ Halloween celebrations. It just feels too wrong when I know that real evil… REAL evil has a face (as you describe) and I feel that face smiles so widely at our ‘harmless fun’.
I hate the idea that I am in any way an ‘over serious – too prescriptive – fundamentalist’ Christian, and so often this leads me to stay quiet on the subject of evil. Which reminds me as I type, of the old adage that ‘the only thing that evil needs to flourish, is for good men to stay silent’.
I think what I most object to about Halloween, is the fact that in our preoccupation with the paranormal, and our laughter at the concept of all things ghoulish, we make a mockery of an evil that is so deeply evil, and so fearfully real, that were it to be unveiled before us, we would quake and cower and beg for mercy.

Phew! I finally made sense of all the thoughts that were tangling in my head!

Might even dare to copy it into a blog post. !

30 10 2014
Kevin

I’m totally with you on that one – I am so worried about being another Christian who looks like they are saying ‘no’ to something, being a dullard or whatever… but there is something serious going on behind the scenes, and it matters.

That’s why we engage with politics, with those who suffer from poverty or mental illness or grief. That is the reality of evil every day, and Halloween is no different. We don’t rest from the serious stuff. That said, I know not everyone agrees. But you have to know why you are doing something, and why you are not. So I am going to out Light Party dressed as Batman. Because he’s so cheerful.

30 10 2015
MrsH

My children are now young adults and it has been difficult to say the least to keep them uninvolved with this event. School parties, friends parties the invites to trick or treat.. Invites to watch films or go to local farms that have some zombiefest. The list is endless but I decided as a servant of God I would not take part and there was nothing innocent or harmless about it. Children dressing up as monsters from films they should never see, suddenly they are asking questions about who Chucky is or what ever. It is another theft of innocence . I didn’t want my children to think witches were all just funny old ladies ..trying to communicate with the dead a party game and that somehow magic was just evil when used for evil. I wanted my children to respect God as a father and a friend and in short we don’t take part in activities that mock or offend a friend. It has been hard but it has been worth it.

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