Review: Redeeming Halloween by Kim Wier and Pam McCune
A few years ago, a friend of mine wanted me to read Redeeming Halloween: Celebrating Without Selling Out by Kim Wier and Pam McCune, then to tell her what I thought of it. I figured since it's close to Halloween, and I need some fodder to blog on, I'd post the email I sent my friend. Here ye go...
I just finished reading "Redeeming Halloween," and thought I'd share my thoughts with you while they're fresh on my mind. I'm not going to go into much detail, because to be honest with you, I'm not all that interested in this subject. Of course I love Halloween. I mean I'm not all that interested in the subject of Halloween as a controversy among evangelicals.
I think the authors hit the nail on the head in the beginning where they talked about how Christians either feel guilty about celebrating Halloween, or they dread the reaction of their Christian friends, or they just don't celebrate it. As for me, I've never felt any guilt about Halloween, but I have sometimes dreaded the reaction of other Christians. I remember Amy (my ex-girlfriend) and I went to a Baptist church one Halloween and were treated kind of rudely because of how we were dressed. I was dressed as the grim reaper, and at Sylvania Baptist Church, "We don't glorify the devil." That's one of the things I don't like about Baptists--they major in the minors. I mean they make a big deal about what seem to me to be trivial issues.
I thought the authors had a lot of really creative and neat ideas for activities on Halloween. As the book progressed, though, the ideas seemed to have less and less to do with anything particularly Halloweenish. You know what I mean? I mean they were the sort of activities people might do in a child's Sunday school class any time during the year.
In the beginning of the book, the authors talked about the origins of Halloween, and how it was originally a Christian celebration of the martyrs. I wondered if the rest of the book would be an attempt to restore that original celebration, but it wasn't. The authors didn't say anything at all about how Halloween was originally celebrated. Then, they took activities, such as dressing up, going trick or treating, and carving pumpkins, which had nothing to do with the original Halloween, and showed how we could sanitize them by pouring Christian significance into them, i.e. dressing up as people groups who needed salvation. It made me wonder what the point was in going through the history of Halloween. The rest of the book seem to make the origins of Halloween irrelevant.
This is the way I look at it. If the activities themselves can be sanitized by pouring Christian meanings into them, then there's nothing inherently wrong with the activities. I mean you can't sanitize something that is truly wrong. For example, you can't make adultery right just by pouring some Christian significance into it. So if it's possible to sanitize an activity, then there's nothing inherently wrong with the activity. And if there's nothing inherently wrong with the activity, then it doesn't need to be sanitized. Maybe at some point in the past people did pour sinister meanings into activities, such as trick or treating. But these days in our culture, Halloween is a meaningless holiday, and trick-or-treating and dressing up is done for pure fun with no meaning--good or sinister--behind it. So while I see nothing wrong with a person wanting to pour Christian significance into Halloween activities, I see no need for it either.
As for me, I'm not really big on celebrations at all. I'm not a big fan of birthday parties or Christmas celebrations. I mean I like Christmas. I like Christmas trees and getting together with family to eat and socialize, but I'm not really big on gift exchanging, birthday cakes, and things like that. I think gift-exchanging causes people more stress than it's worth. The pay off just isn't worth it. But I like Halloween because it's the one time in the year where it's socially eacceptable (except among some evangelicals) to pretend to be something you're not. It's just good meaningless fun, and that's all I want it to be. I'm afraid if I felt the need to engage in so much meaningful activity on Halloween as they suggest in this book, it would suck the fun right out of Halloween for me. But that's just me. I see this sort of thing as a matter of personal preference. It's a Romans 14 situation.
Here's a couple of other things to look at:
Fall Festivals by Sam I Am
Thank God for Halloween by John Mark Reynolds