Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treat

Tonight is Halloween. I think of all the holidays on our calendar, this one could probably be most easily removed. However, I know how much joy it brought to me as a child -- and continues to bring to kids today.

Sometimes I wonder what the proper response to issues like Halloween should be. I know of churches and preachers who every year remind us of the evil roots from which Halloween began. Yet it seems to me that such a reaction only builds walls between us and our communities.

When I was studying Greek in college, my professors often referred to "root fallacy." This is the mistake of going back to the root meaning of a word in order to determine its usage in a passage. As my professors would say, "MEANING IS DETERMINED BY CONTEXT!"

Isn't that somewhat true of Halloween? To trace it back to its roots may make us look smart. But I don't know anyone (especially the kids dressed up like "High School Musical" characters or Batman) who attach any meaning to calling up spirits or having seances or worshipping Satan.

I know I sound somewhat inconsistent, since I am on such a crusade about us being countercultural people. But I think we need to be wise about picking our battles. And bashing a night when kids dress up and go around to ask for candy is not a hill I want to shed blood on. I think it makes us look like radical extremists -- with no connection made to Christlikeness.

I am not saying that to discourage Trick or Treating is wrong, either. This is very much a Romans 14 kind of issue.


Jeff said...

You can make this a theological issue but I'm confident you only raise the argument because you ARE dressed up like a character from High School Musical today. Am I right or what?


I agree with you. I grew up with Halloween just being a time you dressed up like a favorite character, had your parents scour through the candy looking for the poison ones and carving pumpkins and then cleaning up all the goop.

jross said...

I am a lonely dissenting voice. I don't like Halloween nor do we participate. I don't make an issue about it from the pulpit, but if asked I share my conviction. I also don't look down on others for participating. But it is frustrating when, because of long standing participation, people don't even try to process my objections.

Anonymous said...

Churches can act counterculturally in days like this. For instance, our church is surrounded by low-income apartment complexes with kids running around everywhere, all the time. These kids are going to be out tonight anyway. So, we open up our parking lot for hamburgers, hotdogs, popcorn, candy, etc. Not only will we take pictures of every kid that comes, but we will get their address. Then, we will hand deliver the picture to that address within the next week.
I am not setting up Southwest Central as the "model" for I know that many churches will engage in such activities tonight.
We want to be known as a place that is hospitable, compassionate, and caring to our neighbors. This is one way that we seek to show it.

-Josh Ross

Kyle R. said...

I agree with Josh. Use the occasion for good, whatever its sinister roots.

My family doesn't (or hasn't ever) thought of Halloween as anything other than a time that kids get to dress up and "trick or treat."

By the way, I am dressed up as Steve Martin's character in "Little Shop of Horror's" today.:) Just kidding.

Anonymous said...

If we choose to look at the root or origin of any activity, and we condemn Halloween, then how do we justify Christmas, which essentially began as a pagan celebration. I agree with Rick: pick your battles carefully, but be sure you present correct context, not what some civilization or society did 100's of years ago. Kevin

Beverly Ross said...

I loved driving home from Keller today and seeing - not haunted houses - but churches offering safe environments for our children to trick-or-treat. I LOVE fall carnivals!!! or even trunk-or-treating ideas! Josh, great idea you guys are doing at Southwest Central! May the children be blessed through the kindness extended!