Steve Bell has written a thoughtful post about Halloween, concluding with this:
Personally, it makes me sad that the Church (in part) seems to have retreated into the very fear-based isolation St. Patrick’s lively faith contradicted. So sadly ironic. And we have done this in so many areas of common life. It seems to me that we could be out participating in the wider culture; joyfully, cheerfully, confidently handing out ’sweets’ in the various cultural arenas: politics, arts, education, science, festivals etc. We need not do this in the defensive, combative spirit we’ve become famous for, but with a caring neighborliness befitting the character of the Christ whom we worship. And we need not be concerned that we will be tainted in our efforts. For we do not draw from a shallow well, but the inexhaustible Christ who gave himself entirely so that all would know that the organizing and redeeming principle of the cosmos is not self-securing fear, but self-donating love. (Link)
iMonk has an annual rant about Halloween (or, more specifically, the Christian response to Halloween), in which he describes his upbringing in a fundamentalist baptist church–the “KJV-only, women can’t wear pants, twenty verses of “Just As I Am,” Jerry Falwell, Jack Chick, twice a year revival” kind, who were “serious about the Bible, Sunday School, suits and ties, and walking the aisle to get saved” and “big time into Halloween,” they were “all over Halloween like ants on jam…The kids loved it. The parents loved it. The pastors approved. The church paid for it!”
And then, things changed.
Mike Warnke convinced evangelicals that participating in Halloween was worshiping the devil. Later, when we learned that Warnke may have been one of the most skillful of evangelical con-artists, lying about his entire Satanic high priest schtick, the faithful still believed his stories.
Evangelical media began to latch onto Halloween as some form of Satanism or witchcraft, and good Christians were warned that nothing made the other team happier than all those kids going door to door collecting M&Ms.
[…]Does it bother me? You bet it does. It bothers me that we fall for such lame, ridiculous manipulators as the crowd that made all of those Halloweens past into satanic events.
It bothers me that any lie, exaggeration or fiction will find thousands of eager believers to pass it along.
It bothers me that the Biblical message about Satan would be co-opted by the fear-mongering and manipulation of the hucksters. (Read The Screwtape Letters for some real Satanism.) (Link)
It’s difficult to sort out the origins of Halloween, but whatever its origins I have difficulty understanding how letting our kids dress up as cowboys or skeletons or ghosts or even witches and then getting a bunch of candy is somehow colluding with the powers of evil. “Perfect love casts out fear” the Bible says somewhere, and yet many Christians tend to spend much of their time fear-mongering: fear of culture, fear of the occult, fear of heretical translations of the Bible, fear of hell, fear of education, fear of “the other” (whatever it may be).
I don’t “believe” in Halloween, either, because I think it’s just a fun (and cute) thing for the kids to do, nothing more, nothing less. The truth is, I’m much more likely to cancel Halloween in our household for the sake of dental hygiene.