Friday, October 28, 2011

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


Russ said...


I agree with you to a large extent, in the sense that the enemy has not created anything - literally. Meaning that anything that actually exist was/or is good. I might even say that it is arguable, based on God's pronouncement at the end of the Creation account, that all things are actually good and there really is nothing "neutral" (this is against what I would normally argue). So, with that said, if all things that were created were good, then, of course, so is a particular day of the week - in this instance a day that happens to fall on an arbitrary date at then end of October.

But this is where I may take a slightly different view (if anyone actually cares) of dressing up as something that portrays a 'darker-side' of Reality. Though that Baptist guy came across as a Jackass (and nobody enjoys a jackass), I believe his basic point was, for the most part, legitimate in that even Scripture alludes to the fact that we are not to have anything, really, to do with the enemy - especially to slander or 'mock' him or his cohorts (Jude 1.9 and 2 Pt 2.10,11). Or again, when the disciples are all jazzed up concerning their authority to drive out demons, Christ barely acknowledges it and tells them to be focused on the fact that their names are in the Book of Life, as opposed to any real concern about what the demonic does or doesn't do in response to them. Even Ephesians says that we shouldn't have anything to do with darkness, but rather expose it (of course, the context there concerns the immorality of the sin-nature, but the principle seems to possibly apply). I guess, to sum it up, is that I think I could imagine Christ running around and having a good time with the common folk on Halloween easy enough, but it is rather hard for me to imagine Him squirting fake-blood all over His face and dressing up as a horrific something or 'other... I really enjoy your blog, specifically the philosophical aspects, as that it my interest as well.

Blessings to you and yours, Peace.

P.S. My girls and I plan on having a great time running around town on Halloween dressed up as something goofy, no doubt.

Richard W 4Christ said...

Sam and Russ,you guys make interesting points,but I may beg to differ on a few points. Even though Halloween may seem harmless to some,over here in Canada in some parts,there's always very bad incidents that have taken place for the past few years in my neighbourhood on the day of this celebration-Somebody gets murdered,houses are messed up with eggs,excessive vandalism etc. Over where I live, the eve of Halloween is more dangerous than the actual day of Halloween itself. It's also around this time,as we all know,that horror movies from classic to the present are shown. It's hard to deny what kind of images or pictures that most of us get when we think of Halloween. The images are not godly,not edifying and they obviously don't glorify God. Some get images of Jason,Freddie and Michael Myers and other gruesome and scary images. Some may get images of witches,devils and demons,ghosts and a haunted or spooky atmosphere. Many children are known to have nightmares and their behaviours may escalate from bad to worst. Now,I don't know about other areas in which everybody lives,but over here,this happens a lot. But at least,they have made great efforts to keep the area patrolled,safe and appropiately curfewed over the last year. I could care less what day Halloween falls on, and people are entitled to do what they do. Sam choses to just have fun. Russ sounds like there's a struggle between having fun and looking at the darker side of Halloween. Sam,in all honesty,the Baptist person saw the grim reaper costume and he had a right to flip out in his own right. If you had been wearing an angelic white costume and he flipped out,then he's just too uptight,but you had on a grim reaper costume which obviously portrays a horror image versus one that glorifies God. It's like you said. It's a Romans 14 situation. You know,in that passage,Paul also spoke that we should be careful not to cause one to stumble or be offended by what we are doing. Like I said,everybody has a right to do what they do on Halloween or any day for that matter,but personally,I'm not a fan of this celebration because I do get grim and gruesome images from just thinking about that time of the year. Some may not,and may not see it as a big deal and that's very understandable. But as Christian,we're usually impelled to look at it from the point of view of Christ. You will notice that most of the time that we have to read between the lines regarding issues that are not specifically mentioned in the Scriptures. For example,what would Christ think of gay marriages? All we'd have to do is read the passage in which he was speaking concerning divorce and adultery that said,"From the beginning God made them male and female...A man shall his mother and father and cleave to his wife..". Christ may have not recognized a celebration of Halloween, but how would He react to witch costumes,grim reaper costumes, ghost costumes, and spooked atmosphere and the fact that they show horror movies all through? For those who see this as innocent fun(2 Corinthians 11:14-15,Ephesians 4:14,Ephes.5:11,1Corinthians 10:20,21,33, 2Corinthians 6:14-18,7:1,Rev.9:20, Rev.18:2, Romans 12:1-2,9,
2Thessalonians 5:21-22,
James 1:27,1Peter 2:11). For those wearing costumes of evil portrayal in further celebration of this time(Deut.18:9-14,Ezekiel 44:23,
Romans 13:12,1Tim.4:1, 3John 1:11). There's nothing against having fun altogether,but let's remember that,as a Christian,we should always seek to do things that honour and glorify God. As always,Sam,I do enjoy reading your blogs. They're very refreshing.