Tonight my son will don a costume and venture out onto the neighborhood streets to retrieve candy from friendly neighbors. That is to say, he will be doing what I would have forbidden not to many years ago. What’s changed?

I confess to a lot of ambivalence about Halloween. I actually hate the day. I hate the fact that ghosts and witches and devils are displayed everywhere. I resent the invasion of the movie snatchers in the local theaters (this year Saw IV). And, I confess, I’m not fond of shelling out over $20 for candy to pass out to the kids that come by. (Of course, this year I bought PLENTY so that we will have leftovers… and I get to control WHAT we have as leftovers.) I am saddened that our culture gets so excited by a day that fails to really see the evil that many of its images portray.

So what has changed? Just this: from a child’s point of view it is simply the one occasion each year when what he loves to do is allowed and encouraged. A child’s imagination is so ripe, so fresh. A child loves to pretend and to let his imagination take him to another world. And Halloween is the only day where he is not only allowed to do that, but is encouraged to do it in public. In short, I began to see the day as not so much a celebration of evil as a day when my child can have some fun dressing up. I have no fear of his getting into witchcraft because of it. Besides for two years in a row he wanted to dress as a paleontologist. Not much harm in that.

But there is another reason my mind changed. It used to be that on Halloween we would vacate our house to cloister at the church for a Halloween alternative. Our house would then be the dark one in the neighborhood. What did that say to our neighbors? Perhaps it said, “These people have convictions that won’t let them participate.” More likely it said, “These Christians think they are too good for us.” I have found Halloween to be one of those rare occasions where we can wander around the neighborhood, speak freely to all our neighbors, greet those whom we’ve not seen recently, and in general nurture a friendliness that may not be possible on other days. This is one pagan practice that can be clearly redeemed for good.

A good post on this subject is here. Far more reflective and thoughtful than my own, but clearly to the same point.

Tonight, Colin is no longer going to be a paleontologist. Tonight is is going to ‘be’ Boba Fett from the Star Wars movie. And he is thrilled. I’m glad that we can have this fun together.

2 thoughts on “Halloween

  1. Geoffsnook

    I think you have some good thoughts. My buddy told me that the guy who oversees RUF ministries once said that one time each year tons of our neighbors actually come to us. It’s Halloween. Does it make sense to close our doors to them? I’m looking forward to the few who actually come to my doors, in hopes I can meet their parents and offer a last minute invitation to my neighborhood cookout. I just printed out a few more for this occasion.

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