There's no doubt there's a constant debate among people of faith about Halloween.
Is it a day of evil worship, or can you just have fun times in the neighborhood?
The traditional roots of Halloween go all the way back to the Celtic Druid traditions. Actually Halloween was a harvest festival celebrating the crops coming in, and noting the beginning of the dark winter. Historically the Druids thought they could predict the future, connect with the spirits coming to usher in the dark cold winter months, and in more recent history the Romans used this time to worship the gods that influenced the harvest of fruits and grains. This may be the origin of our traditional boobing for apples and giving of fruit in the "trick or treat" tradition.
There's obviously a lot of historical reasons for the season, but the argument for or against Halloween in the world of faith often centers around the evil, vampires, demons, devils, and the worship of evil spirits.
So our answer to the evil question is to create a "Christianized" holiday that takes all the bad stuff out, and several communities engage in Harvest Festivals.
They set up activities for kids, allow them to dress up in various costumes, give out candy, and in essence have a big party to celebrate the harvest time.
I know several churches who use the party as an outreach, which is an awesome way to give back to the community, and present the gospel, but some just try to clean up the party, call it something different, and somehow feel like they're doing "God's Holiday." When all the while it's just Halloween with a different name.
Please don't read criticism in this post. I don't mean to offend anyone spending all the time and energy creating a 'harvest festival,' but rather; I'd like to just open up the conversation to a broader topic.
Can Halloween be a time where people of faith can engage with their community, who are already celebrating, be lights in the dark places, and rather than trying to create a subculture of cleanliness that really is doing the same thing, be people who drive culture rather than follow it?
I know there are good things involved with giving young kids a place without all the scary monsters, but this week I ran into good church people of faith who are trying to eliminate halloween with their harvest festivals, but their doing the exact same things going on in the neighborhoods right outside the church. It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.
It almost seems like we've taken something of the world and re-created a "Christian Halloween" to suit our communities.
If we're so offended by the holiday all together, why don't we try and make something totally different? OR…Maybe we engage with the world for a night, and try to show there is evil in the world, but there can be good to overcome it.
Just a few ideas…
What if we had people dress up like heroes coming to conquer evil.
Or..what if we had Halloween parties at our homes that explained the history, and gave a good message somewhere in the evening.
What if we had people of faith who turned it into a night of giving, without trying to re-brand Halloween, and in effect start creating a separate sub-harvest culture.
I'm just asking the question.
I'm sure there are some of you out there with strong ideas on the subject, and I'd love to hear what you think.
Is Halloween something we should ban, or can we find a way to be "in the world-but not of the world" without silly Christianese sub cultures?
What say you?