My last post contemplated some long held muses regarding Halloween. A couple more thoughts are rolling around.
Reason #3: Halloween doesn’t bring out the good in us.
What teenager wants to give up the huge candy haul? I sure didn’t, so convinced my parents for several years that my friends and I should be allowed to have fun on Halloween just like everyone else. Unfortunately, we became more infatuated with tricking than treating. We threw rotten tomatoes at houses, egged cars, tee-peed homes, soaped windows, stole candy left out for others. We really, truly thought we were being funny and that the night warranted such behavior. My neighbor who caught us soaping her windows certainly didn’t agree. The deeply hurt expression of someone who had always treated us like her own grandchildren has forever been etched in my memory. “But, it was just a joke,” didn’t erase the hurt. (It also should be noted that once my parents found out, there were deep consequences. Thankfully, they held the “You do the crime, you do the time” mentality.)
I’m middle-aged now, so maybe times have changed and people are no longer behaving badly. I’ve hoped for such, but then read headlines of teens throwing pumpkins at cars (Google this – you’ll be stunned how many instances and horrible consequences come up) and of sheer, horrific crimes. I’m aware of tragedies on other holidays as well, but what it is about Halloween that draws out the most horrific in people?
There is a video circulating that shows people being frightened at a haunted house. “This is SOOOO funny!” everyone has said. Sure, I chuckled at a few of the responses, but was then drawn to the scenes of the haunted house. Dark, dirty, blood smears everywhere. Hideous, blood-drenched people with gaping wounds jumped through doorways. In one scene, maimed, tortured persons cried for help, desperately reaching through prison bars.
I flashed to recent headlines: Women freed from a basement prison where they had been raped and tortured for years. A teacher’s throat slit open with a box cutter by a student – a senseless, tragic crime. Images of Kurt Gosnell’s abortion clinic and Saddam Hussein’s torture chambers also bothered me. Real people. Real terror. I can’t imagine anything more frightening than the likes of these types of things happening to my loved ones or to myself. I’m not laughing at the video any more. And I’m not sure why anyone does.
Reason #4: Does God approve?
Just this week, one of my students approached a controversial topic in an interesting way. Gently, he said to a fellow student: “You’re a Christian, right?”
“Yes.” The other student (and the whole class) was a little nervous about where this was going to go.
“Then, do you want to follow God’s wisdom or do you want what the rest of the world calls wisdom?”
“I really do want God’s wisdom,” came the answer.
“Then we can trust God – right? – that His ways will work best even if we’re not taking the popular side.”
Those words went deep with me (and with much of the class).
I’ve been studying the book of Nehemiah recently. Interestingly, the weeks in which Ezra reminded the people of God’s word took place throughout October. In fact, the New Living Translations records the events of chapter 9, where the people spent hours confessing their sins, as happening on October 31st!
Whether the NLT got that last date completely right or not, it stands out to me that our culture spends October celebrating things associated with the devil. Nehemiah and Ezra urged people to spend the month turning back to their pure devotion for God and away from the fascination with ungodly practices that got them into trouble in the first place.
We were wonderfully and fearfully made. Halloween celebrates not the beauty of life, but its grotesqueness. It mocks death, and for that matter, life. I guess we like to feel like we can make fun of death, because most people tell me that’s why they celebrate. “It’s fun.” “I don’t like taking things too seriously.” “All this witch and ghost stuff isn’t real anyway.”
Death, apart from God is truly horrific. I can only think of one being who has a staked interest in numbing that reality – of tricking humans into thinking that terror is funny and death a laughing matter. At the very start of our existence, Satan lied to mankind about the nature and purposes of God. He also lied about his own nature and intent. Why would we think he’s going to stop now?
I’m not the mean old woman who turns little kids away from my doorstep on Halloween (if they even come, since we’re sans Halloween decor ). I seek to greet them with love and the hope that I and others stand out as different, as safe, as hopeful … as a light that no Jack-O-Lantern can come close to matching.