catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 4, Num 19 :: 2005.10.21 — 2005.11.03


A hallowed event

Editor?s Note: There?s been some discussion as of late on the *cino discussion board about Halloween, as well as in our local community in Three Rivers, Michigan. Here is another perspective from a local writer and mother to add to the discussion.

Halloween is going to church. This seems contradictory given its associations with the dark arts, death and all manners of perversity. Yet it?s going to church in ever greater numbers. Rebecca Troyer, of Three Rivers? Agape Family Church, said they expect five hundred trick-or-treaters this year. That?s ?up from three hundred? last year. When asked why her church created this alternative celebration, Rebecca said it was for kids ?to have candy and have fun.? She didn?t support her own children trick-or-treating, since it originated from the superstition, ?If you don?t put out food, the evil spirits will come, which evolved into ?tricks.?? We don?t want to participate in it, she said.

Altering the standard Halloween greeting, The Three Rivers Church of the Nazarene is having a ?trunk or treat,? referring to car trunks decorated for an October 26th gathering. Pastor Bob Anderson explained that rather than ignore the evil, negative effects of Halloween, they created a positive, safe environment, with ?hayrides? and ?ample lighting.?

The ancient celebration at harvest time, once called Sabbat, Samhain, and later, All Saint?s Day, is evolving into something else. Will our Halloween contain anything hallowed? Consider Easter, based on the ancient Ostar celebration. Beneath the pagan symbolism of eggs and newborn animals and beyond the Easter dress displays is the spiritual significance of Christian faith. Will Halloween again become a time of respect and reverence for all beliefs, or continue in suspicion and avoidance?

The moon and the planting, growing, harvesting and resting of agriculture are the roots of pagan holidays. Halloween comes from the third harvest celebration of the year (the first two are August 1 and September 21). It is a time to revere the dead, as we?re reminded of death when the fields turn brown and leaves fall. It?s increasingly darker each week, so the Sun seems to be failing. This happens each year and is particularly important to farming communities. With most of us gleaning our produce from the grocery and not from the ground, we?re disconnected from these rhythms. Usually by choice, not necessity, we store our last apples and potatoes and turn over our gardens and flowerbeds.

We don?t use late harvest time for revering the dead, although the ceremonies held on September 11th echo the proper tone. Pastor Bob Anderson said, due to the ?personal relationship with Jesus? the people of his congregation ?focus on our own mortality constantly? and don?t need to on this particular night (Halloween). ?We don?t agree with where secular culture is going,? he continued, as with ?horror movies.? I?m not fond of gore, either. Yet behind the mask is a literary or historical lesson. For example, Mary Shelley?s Frankenstein is a parable for social consciousness.

The churches do a disservice to their faith by reducing Halloween to a costume party in a church parking lot. A mere costume party skims the surface; dress up as something innocuous and eat sweets. There is no underlying reverence. It?s reduced to disguises and sugar, rather than ?dumb dinners? for our departed and contemplation of the end of growth, the beginning of rest. One pastor told me that, as evangelicals, they don?t celebrate what?s not in the Bible. Most habits of modern life are absent from the Bible. Around here, only the Amish abstain that far.

Our realization of season changes is often limited to clothing choices. We are disconnected from the Earth, as though separate from it. This leads to a disregard for consequences. Why bother with what you put in the Earth when you?re not responsible for planting it in the spring? The farmers know this predicament, but most of us don?t farm. This holiday is what links us to our hard-working, brutal, joyful, earth-bound past. Isn?t this what conservatives claim to want: a simpler time? If the churches embraced rather than repelled these traditions, it would add depth to the season, not be a submission to satanic practice. Consider it part of an education.

The Non-Christian and the Christian have an opportunity to collaborate at this time of year. The evil is the consumerism, the surface without the spiritual. Why don?t parents explain why we dress up, distribute goodies, and carve pumpkins? Some of the practices were born from other faiths and cultures, but how does a family or community benefit when the ritual is abandoned or reduced to silliness? Will we next dump Christmas for its Yule parentage? I suppose some do.

So celebrate to suit your soul, making sure there?s substance to this autumn?s zenith. This used to be considered the year?s end: colors flaring then falling, fields full then barren, evenings lingering then abruptly dark. Regardless of your faith, this cycle endures. Daniel Shaurette writes in an article called ?Dispelling Halloween Myth? that ?so many other cultures celebrate their dead around this time that I can?t list them all. It is a shame that the religions must fight over it and ruin such an important time. The reverence and remembrance of our ancestors is very important.? Ponder Earth/God’s Creation as a delicate, susceptible, ever-changing living thing; let us acknowledge each other the same way. Death begets life. This is not demonic. This is human.

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