01 November, 2006

Sugar Rush

Last night was our trick or treat. Most of the families on the road don't celebrate Halloween at all, so we went into town for our candy. The boys did not go, due to massive attitude problems most of the day. They are currently begging Mary for some of her candy.

"What?" you ask, "A Christian home-schooler that does Halloween? Impossible." Yep. We are, as I often say, freaks. Even among the freaks, we are freaks. Let me share my All Hallows' journey:

When I was little my parents were average secular Joes, and we, of course, did Halloween. I became a Christian well before my mother, and never had a problem with it, although I had a few friends who did not partake. Then, when I was a teenager, my mom got saved. She had been into everything from crystals (largely harmless) to divination (potentially harmful), so she hit Halloween hard. No decorations, and she did give out candy, but it was complete with Jack Chick tract.

It was a fundamentalist church, and they used to have an All Saint's party, where you could dress up as your favorite Bible character, but too many parents were sending their kids as Satan (likely because it's a commercially available costume, but still in extremely poor taste) and they stopped doing it. So, my brother had to beg to be let to go out. Generally, he was, since Mom knew he didn't share her convictions, but it was still after a long lecture about it and days of asking.

Mom was leaving her pagan past in the dust. For her it was a good choice, because it was a temptation to go back to her old ways. So, I have no problem with those who turn off their porch lights and go out to dinner, or whatever. For some it is the choice between sin and sanctity.

However, that said, for the vast majority of Christians, Halloween is not a sin/sanctity choice. It is an opportunity to engage the culture. I remember one Halloween as a teen when I went to a friend's costume party and they had a Ouija board. I convinced them not to play with it, but if I hadn't been there, they might have contacted who knows whom.

Every Christian holiday incorporates pagan aspects, or is held on a pagan date. Christmas is the date of the Saturnalia. The Christmas tree is a Germanic Pagan symbol of eternal life. The word Easter is an Anglicization of a Germanization of a Middle Eastern godess, Asteroth. She's the one Gideon was told to tear down the poles of, which verse is often used to decry the use of Christmas tree, oddly enough.

We take the bits of truth from the pagans and use them in service to the Truth, Way, and Life. Halloween is no different. Halloween is a contraction of the term "All Hallow's (Saint's) Eve." The day before All Saint's Day. The Pagan name for the day is Samhain (pronounced Sa-wain), and it is the Pagan New Year's. They believe the veil between the living and the dead to be thinnest on this day. So, the early Christians took the day and redeemed it for a Godly purpose. Instead of trying to contact lost loved ones via divination or necromancy, we celebrate their lives and speak with them through God. The truth the Pagans know is that there is an afterlife, and that we should celebrate it. The fullness of that truth is that Jesus prepares a place for us in His mansions, if we accept it.

Paul exhorts us to not do anything we believe to be sin, and not to cause a brother to stumble, so fighting about Halloween is very unseemly. However, he also says we can eat food offered to idols, because we know the idols have no power over us. Halloween has no power over us, so eating a little candy offered to idols is not sin.

This year, many of the candy giver-outers were amazed at the size of my 9 year old's candy bucket. It was, in their opinion, too small. When I further told them that we go home when it's full, they couldn't believe it. And here is the true danger of Halloween for the average Christian, the sin of gluttony. When we teach our littles to go out and get as much as possible, rushing around to get to every house, we are not teaching them moderation. When we let them eat all their candy over the next day or so we are not teaching them self-control.

Done properly, Halloween is an excellent time to teach our children thankfulness, moderation, self-control, and generosity. It is a chance to meet our neighbors, to forge relationships that might eventually lead to their salvation and/or our edification. I would advocate Christian parents going with their children as they trick or treat, whatever their age, just so we can teach those lessons. Walking around with your glow stick, a literal light in the darkness, is there anything *more* Christian than that?

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