September 28th, 2007



The air is crisp and autumnal this morning. It feels great. The moon last night was like a big, orange pumpkin rising in the east. Fall is here.

I'm feeling better this morning, despite having seven metric buttloads of stuff to get done. I think it's because I have nothing scheduled today. Items on the calendar warp time. You can't start that, because you'll have to drop it to go do X. Instead of getting Y done, you have to grind out a report or lesson plan or make a phone call to get ready for Z.

Pastoral work is entrepreneurial. The more lines you have inked in on your daily planner, the more confined you are, and the more some stuff'll have to slide. AND, the more tired and frazzled you're going to get.

Anyway, this is my day off, which means I'm finally getting around to non-work errands and housework. (Oh, joy.)

Thoughts on Hallowe'en

The local biker church is advertising their annual "Hell House," a piece of Jack-Chick-like performance art intended as evangelistic outreach. This is not considered unusual in this community. Meanwhile, our UM church is preparing -- at my suggestion -- to hold a Hallowe'en costume party. People are excited. I expect at some point, though, I'm going to have to sort out for the confused and/or antagonistic hereabouts why the Reverend Doctor doesn't object to Hallowe'en parties. So, here's my argument.

I do not pooh-pooh witchcraft and paganism and all the rest of it. I know people who have made those choices. I reject those paths. We serve Christ alone, who delivers us from the darkness of all that.

That said, when we do Hallowe'en (or Trick or Treat), we're not engaging in some sort of devil worship or social rebellion or anything of the sort. We're having FUN.

Someone once said that a Puritan is someone who is haunted by the idea that someone, somewhere, is having fun. And as Sir Toby Belch said to the Puritan Malvolio, "Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?"* Not that Sir Toby is much of a model for Christians, but still, there's nothing wrong with a little cakes and ale now and then. We ought to have room for fun.

Now, neither debauchery nor fellowship with devils is proper fun for Christians. But making fun of the devil IS. C.S. Lewis headed The Screwtape Letters with a couple of relevant quotes:
"The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." -- Luther

"The devil . . the prowde spirite . . cannot endure to be mocked." -- Thomas More

We need to point out that dressing up like goblins or monsters or witches is not about emulating such things, but making fun of them. For they have NO power over the Christian. Christ protects us. We don't need to live in fear.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

For that matter, I don't think trying to scare people out of hell/into heaven is much of an evangelistic technique. And I think some of those earnest Puritans trying to make the most terrifying presentation they can for their Hell House -- in order to assist the Holy Spirit's work in convicting kids of sin and moving them toward relying on Christ, you understand -- are secretly just enjoying all the gore. They get to wallow in all the forbidden stuff and feel virtuous at the same time. Which for some people sure beats cakes and ale.

*Modern paraphrase: "Just 'cause you got religion, you think that's the end of beer and doughnuts?"

canine condundrum

Sassafras's appetite was better this morning. She was doing fine all day, but when I took her for her walk, she seemed to tire very soon. She's been mostly zonked since, and her breathing is a bit labored still, hours later.

But when I called the doctor, he said her blood work came back very good. He can't find anything internal wrong with her. So maybe the drugs she's on will clear up her problems. I hope so.