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I’m not afraid of the dark.

I love halloween.  And I’m a Christian.

Just 20 years ago, I remember attending our small conservative church’s annual halloween haunted house.  It was awesome!  And, yes, there were chainsaw chases, opening coffins, and wiggling hands coming out of the floor vents.  My, my how culture changes. 

Now I’m not proposing churches start trying to out-do all the haunted houses in town.  I’m not even proposing they celebrate halloween.  Honestly, what bugs me is “trunk-or-treat.”

Trunk-or-Treat.

Does anyone else picture an ominous man slamming a kid in a trunk?  If “trunk-or-treat” is supposed to parallel “trick-or-treat,” then the trunk sounds like a scary thing–a trick.  I don’t think the phrase was well thought-out…but maybe that is the english degree talking. 

Really, though, churches are saying, “We’re not celebrating halloween.  Nope.  Kids are simply dressed up in costumes and walking around getting candy”  Ah, alrighty.  And the kids are probably thinking, “even though we’re doing the same thing our halloween-celebrating friends are doing, we’re ok because we’re doing it at church and calling it something (slightly) different.   

I do understand the point of these spin-off celebrations.  I really do.  Halloween makes churches uneasy.  Kids want to do something on halloween.  Parents want to offer an alternative.  But, wow…make it a true alternative.  Distinguish it.  Be creative.  “Harvest festival” or “Reformation Party” would even sound slightly better and be less confusing. 

Some things are simply not clear cut.  Some subjects deeply divide Christians.  Delightfully, I have freedom in Christ.  I can carve pumpkins, trick-or-treat, dress up, and watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown without being afraid of the dark.  It is a genetic fallacy to assume I’m celebrating pre-Christian rites by participating in these activities.  These things have lost their pagan meanings much like mistle-toe, Easter eggs, and church steeples.  If your family does not celebrate halloween, I figure you have good reasons for it and respect that wholeheartedly!  Still, if I see you at a “trunk-or-treat,” I might tickle you until you’re forced to admit you’re really trick-or-treating…      

Salt dough ornaments Norah and I made this weekend. 

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12 responses »

  1. Pingback: The Buzz » Blog Archive » I’M Not Afraid of the Dark.

  2. Pingback: Halloween Ideas Blog » Blog Archive » I’m not afraid of the dark.

  3. Our church always did a reformation party when I was little. We dressed up as Bible characters or historical Christians. The start of the evening would be for each person dressed up to give a clue about their identity while the rest of the church guessed. The one who took the longest to be “guessed” won a prize. The evening was rounded out by 5 – 10 game stations that were either based on a Biblical story (David & Goliath) or about the Christian walk. The favorite was the “Walk of Faith” where you did an obstacle course blindfolded with only the leaders voice to guide you through the challenges. I always had lots of fun. We did dress up a few years for Halloween but always as something fun, never scary.

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  4. Suzi is going to be an adorable little witch for Halloween, and I’m already nervous that my blog will be eerily devoid of comments after those pictures are posted. My mom dressed me as a witch for my second Halloween (upon my request, so she said) and everyone thought it was fine.

    By the way, have you been in the Halloween Depot at the Anderson Mall lately? Most of their stuff is scary and wrong (WHO wants to dress their 5-year-old kid up as Michael Myers from the Halloween movie???), or slutty. And the inappropriate lingerie-ish costumes are for very young age groups! I hope the moms who are buying their daughters those awful things don’t let them go trick-or-treating alone.

    Maybe it’s just me, but the point of Halloween is to carve pumpkins and see how much fun we can have dressing Suzi up before she starts *telling* us what she wants to be 🙂

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  5. I totally agree…Halloween is supposed to be FUN…many holiday traditions that are now considered “Christian” in nature were not always such…but anyway, I agree with you, Gini, that store bought Halloween costumes are (for the most part) YUCK. Unfortunately, we succumbed because our kids are of a picky age. But nothing gross or slutty for these kids…nope 🙂

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  6. Norah can’t decide what she wants to be. Right now it is a “dragon and superman.” Hmmm…gotta figure that one out. Maybe I tell her that her costume is invisible ala The Emperor’s New Clothes?

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  7. “It is a genetic fallacy to assume I’m celebrating pre-Christian rites by participating in these activities. These things have lost their pagan meanings much like mistle-toe, Easter eggs, and church steeples.” i’m curious as to the exact source of your confidence in that statement.

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  8. I love this post…Eric and I were just talking about this very same thing!!! Our church has a Harvest Festival each year, but it isn’t on Halloween and it is in no way to “replace” Halloween. It is a well known fact that on Halloween, we will all be dressing our children up and trick(not trunk)-or-treating. I just can’t grasp why so many people see that as evil, bad or even “un”Christian. I tend to fall on the super conservative side of most issues, but this one, people just need to get over it!

    I did see one church advertising a Noah’s Ark Party and I thought that was a neat idea…all the kids dress up like animals that were on the ark, which would be well, any animal. 🙂

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  9. Carey–I almost clarified that I understand and respect the views of Christian denominations that do not celebrate any holidays. These Christians have grounded views on the pagan roots of all holidays and so do not celebrate them. Period.

    For the rest, though, we’d have to have our heads deep in the sand to not see that there are pagan roots in many Christian holidays we celebrate. I do not see this origin as a contradiction. I see it as a part of the rich history of global evangelism. It bothers me when we pick on one holiday for reasons that contradict our celebration of the rest. That is a fallacy of a ‘nother sort.

    Pagan roots surround us. Wedding customs are full of these origins (tying the knot, honeymoon, wedding rings). And I do not call the days of the week or months of the year something different because most are named after gods and goddesses. I think we even had a similar discussion about acupuncture and maybe blessingways.

    Humbly hoping we’ve survived another religious discussion.

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  10. Yeah, I’ve always been a little uneasy with the “go to a parking lot and get candy out of the trunk of someone you may or may not know” concept.

    We always had a great time on Halloween! It was almost like an excuse to drop in on friends and family who we didn’t get to see often.

    I think the church had a harvest festival once, and that was fun, too. Granted, the one thing that I remember about it is it’s the only that time I *successfully* bobbed for an apple! 🙂

    (And you should bring Norah to my grandma’s this year if you’re in the neighborhood! She never gets any trick-or-treaters and I know they would love to see her!!)

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  11. in the words of kelly rippa: “if loving halloween is wrong, i don’t wanna be right!”

    and please don’t ask me why i know that she said that . . .

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  12. Great post – so true..)),

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