October 26th, 2015


Hooray for Hallowe'en

I like Hallowe'en. When I was a kid, I loved trick-or-treating. Running around town at night in costume was fun; the candy was a bonus. I remember making little construction paper ghosts and skeletons and witches in school. It was fun. And as a pastor, I've never had a problem with congregations that had Hallowe'en parties -- and called them that.

Out in Churchworld, of course, some people get spooked (oops, see what I did there?) about Hallowe'en. Even if we dress in costume, we can't call it a Hallowe'en party. We have to call it a "Fall" party, or something. Church folk get nervous about all the devil-witch-ghost imagery, I guess. I figured it was just an Evangelical hangup, but mainliners are suprisingly reticent to get their spook on, too. It's sad. Of course, over at the local biker church, they sponsor a "Hell House," full of devils and gore and whatnot, in order to scare people into heaven. Which is just theological porn.

No one seems to get anymore that dressing up like creatures of evil is making fun of them. Holding them up to contempt. It's not celebrating their power, but showing they have no power over us. I mean, we're not bocors or Satanists. This isn't "real" for us, even if we believe that demons actually exist. Rather, it is as St. Thomas More pointed out about the devil, "the proud spirit cannot endure to be mocked."

Unfortunately, there are more "proud spirits" than just the devil. And there will always be stuffy Christians who will admonish you, flutter anxiously over you, compromise on your behalf, bowdlerize anything that looks like fun -- and then come up with a patent substitute, all "safe" and holy. Or at least respectable. They are like the Puritan Malvolio, to whom Sir Toby Belch addressed himself: Dost thou think that because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?

Me, I'm with G.K. Chesterton. I want a faith that is whole-hearted but which can handle a little rough treatment. My faith is not a hothouse lily or African violet that has to be kept under a glass bell, lest the rude climate of the unregulated outdoors kill it off. There is a reason that gargoyles adorn a cathedral. We don't put them over the altar, but they have their function. And we should remember that while Jesus was always holy, he was constantly reproved for not being respectable enough by all the fussbudgets of his time.