Tag Archives: Steve Bell


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)

Interesting stuff.

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.

My Dinner with Steve (sort of)

I’m too tired to post anything of substance.  Dixie and I got home at 2:00a.m. after a Steve Bell (& co.) concert in Saskatoon.   Excellent show, as always.  It was mostly unfamiliar stuff from his new worship album, Devotion, but it was great nonetheless.  Steve music and lyrics have a depth to them that never fail to move, and his stories are always entertaining.  Kerri Woelke, John Buller, Roy Salmond and Mike Janzen, touring with Steve Bell, were all also excellent.  Mike Janzen’s jazz piano solos alone were worth the price of admission.

Kerri Woelke  [Kerji Stephens] is a friend of mine from Bible college.  She sent me a message to call her a couple of weeks ago, which I did.  Apparently she’d been telling the guys that I had taught her guitar.  This is true, when you get down to it: I taught her the basic chords, some strumming and rhythm, and told her to loosen up.  And we played a whole lot of Counting Crows, Cranberries and Frente together.  Chances are that there was more to it than that, but my memory does not serve, so I tend to downplay it.  That was a long time ago.

I’m quite flattered that she remembers.  I tend to assume that people move on with their lives and leave the past behind—I don’t, but for some reason I assume other people do—so it is always a pleasant surprise when someone calls or bumps into you and says things like, “Remember when…” or “I was just telling my friend about the time…”

So she was telling everyone that I had taught her guitar and that I’d likely be at the concert in Saskatoon, to which they replied, “Bring the ol’ boy ’round, what?”  (I wasn’t there, so that phrasing could be inaccurate.)  After the show she invited Dixie and I to join her and Steve and the rest of the guys for their 11 o’clock post-concert supper at Moxies.  So we hung out for an hour or two, eating, drinking, talking.  They’re a great bunch.

Back to immediately after the concert: Kerri called Steve over and introduced us.

“So you’re a musician?” he asks, a question presumably based on the revelation that I taught Kerri guitar.  This is why I’m reluctant to talk about it: it’s a point of pride on the one hand; on the other hand is the realization that some people might take that to mean much more than simply teaching her some chords and telling her to loosen up.  I have improved since Bible college, but not by leaps and bounds.

“No,” I replied stupidly.  “Well, I play guitar, so I guess I’m a musician.  But I’m not a Musician.”

“Do you write?”


Dang.  If there was ever a time I wished I had applied myself to music and guitar lo these last 15 years or so, it was then.  Talk about deflating—for a moment Steve Bell and I had a talking point beyond the usual fan-to-artist chit-chat and then I went and stuck a fork in it.  (Was I too humble?  What’s the definition of “musician”?  Do I meet the criteria?  I was thinking of it in terms of someone who does it professionally.)

Never mind.  It was a great evening.

You, dear reader, should go to their concert when they come your way.  I’ve never been disappointed by one of his concerts (and we figure we’ve been to 9 or 10 of them).   Go buy your tickets.  Do it.  NOW.

Idiot moment of the weekend: Dixie and I had supper at McNally Robinson.  I had ordered some coffee.

“Would you like cream or milk?” asked our waitress.

“Both,” said I.


“Wait—what?  No, I thought that—I meant…Cream is good.”

I won’t bother finding excuses for that one.