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2006·10·23 · 5 Comments
October 31st

Like it or not, the majority of our neighbors—yours and mine—call October 31st “Halloween.” Unless you live in an Amish community, you cannot simply ignore it. Even if you choose to ignore it, you cannot do so passively; you must actively avoid it. So what should you do about Halloween? I don’t intend to answer that question; not directly, anyway. I will state a few facts, make a few observations, and tell you what we do and why.

Anyone who examines Halloween thoroughly and honestly must admit that it is, at its core, a celebration of evil. Evil spirits, ghosts (the souls of the dead walking among us), witches—all of these represent the evil (Satanic) side of the supernatural world. Those are the facts of Halloween. Another fact, and one that few think of, is that it is simply unacceptable to knock on a neighbor’s or stranger’s door and demand candy. How that ever got to be an accepted practice among civilized people is beyond me.

In spite of those facts, I grew up with Halloween. I went trick-or-treating. We had Halloween parties—not “harvest celebrations,” “All Saints Day” parties (I’m not recommending that, with all the Catholic baggage it brings), but Halloween parties—complete with scary costumes and paper skeletons. I went out as a vampire. I slicked my hair back and wore a black cape and fangs. On no occasion did I become demon possessed or engage in witchcraft. One year, however, I and my partner in crime did change costumes and hit every house in town twice. An early start, a good plan, and a very small town made that possible. All in all, Halloween was just good, clean fun, and no harm done. I see no reason to believe it is much different today. Yet we do not now participate in Halloween.

Our kids do not trick-or-treat, and we do not have Halloween parties, for the reasons stated in the second paragraph of this article. The axiom “no harm, no foul” does not apply in our home. It is a matter of principle. However, while we can choose not to actively participate, we do not have the option of ignoring Halloween. Let’s consider a few of our options:

  1. Leave home, go to the mall (not really an option here in God's country), go anywhere so we’re not home when those pesky kids come to the door. I suppose this is an acceptable option, but really, what are we accomplishing by allowing a mostly benign custom to drive us from our homes?
  2. Shut off the lights and sit in the basement watching movies (or something), pretending we’re not home. I agree with Tim Challies that this presents a poor witness. Not that I think answering the door and handing out candy is a particularly good witness; after all, every infidel in town is doing the same thing. There is no positive witness in handing out candy. However, there is definitely a negative witness in ignoring people who come to our doors.
  3. What we do: stay home, answer the door, be friendly, hand out candy, eat candy, have fun, and don’t waste any time thinking about how much more righteous we are than those horrible parents whose kids are ringing our doorbell—because we’re not. Don’t misunderstand me, I didn’t say our choice is not more right than theirs—why else would we do it?—but right does not equal righteous.

This October 31st, we will be remembering the Reformation by going around town nailing ninety-five theses to every door in town. Each child gets a hammer, a nail apron, and . . . No, seriously, we will be at home watching Martin Luther (1953), spilling popcorn on the floor, and generally having fun. I might get this one and make it a double feature. At some point, someone will express the hope that not too many more trick-or-treaters come so there will be lots of candy left over. That someone might even be me. It really doesn’t matter, though, because we will surely buy more as it goes on sale November 1st. Nope, that doesn’t make me a hypocrite. Not at all.

5 Comments:

1. 06·10·23··19:05
Carla Rolfe

I hope you don't take this the wrong way David, but I have to ask this.

You state: "Another fact, and one that few think of, is that it is simply unacceptable to knock on a neighbor’s or stranger’s door and demand candy. How that ever got to be an accepted practice among civilized people is beyond me."

I couldn't agree more - and have indeed thought about what a ridiculous custom this is. Especially considering there are a lot of families that can just barely afford to feed their own kids, let alone buy a sack of candy for the neighborhood kids.

At any rate, I agree with your observation on this one, which is why this seems to contradict your first statement:

"What we do: stay home, answer the door, be friendly, hand out candy, eat candy, have fun..."

Honestly I'm not trying to be a troublemaker, I'm just wondering how you go from the custom being unacceptable to knock on a stranger's door and demand candy - to handing out candy to those who are knocking on your door?

Not that I'm suggesting you open the door and preach a sermon on Sola Scriptura or anything (although that might be cool, I'd come trick or treating at your house if you'd do that) but it just seems inconsistant to me.

Maybe I'm just really thick headed? This is entirely possible.

2. 06·10·23··20:34
David

Carla, you don't ever have to be afraid of how I'll take anything. Fire away, I've got thick skin.

The reason it's not a contradiction is that I am living up to my own principles. I don't have to expect others to know what I know. I know it's unacceptable to go begging door to door, but they don't. These are kids who have been taught that, on this occasion, it's the thing to do. To them it's not begging or demanding because they think it's expected of them; and for the most part, they are right. This is not the time to give them a lessen in capitalism and work ethics. Refusing them does not supply that lesson, anyway. It only makes us the grumpy, stingy neighbor in their eyes; and no one is going to receive the Gospel from the grumpy, stingy neighbor.

It boils down to this: I don't expect from others what I expect from myself. I try to meet them where they are.

3. 06·10·23··20:55
Carla Rolfe

Thank you David, that makes sense the way you've explained it.

SDG - Carla

4. 06·10·25··09:02
Daniel

Option #4: The church has a night of games and giving out candy to those who show up.

In Winnipeg there are a number of congregations who do this as an alternative. Larger churches set up their auditoriums with game booths, giving candy as prizes. Families who show up bring bags of candy, and the congregation running the show divies up the candy behind the scenes according to the number of children who show up - so that everyone has a great time - parents fellowship with others, the kids have a ball, and they don't feel like they have been cheated out of a night of free candy when the deal is done.

5. 06·10·25··14:21
David

Daniel, I suppose that's OK. We've been involved in similar events, and could conceivably be again.

The only objection I have is to pandering to the notion that anyone is being cheated out of anything, as if they deserve free candy because everyone else is getting it. Just because everyone else doing ___ or getting ___, it does not follow that I deserve it or should do it too. Life is full of occasions when I can't or shouldn't do what others are doing.

Maybe this isn't the time to teach that lesson, but I have known parents who disapprove of Halloween whose only reason for allowing their children to trick-or-treat was "because it's not fair not to." Ridiculous.


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