Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Halloween Story

It’s obvious that autumn has arrived – the leaves are any color but green and a good many of them have already fallen to the ground waiting to be crunched underfoot. And Halloween decorations of every sort are adorning the yards and houses and local businesses in preparation for the parade of children who will be trick-or-treating through the neighborhoods soon. This week especially, I've been thinking and praying about the whole Halloween thing. I won’t be telling you in this blog whether you should or shouldn’t join in on the Halloween festivities. What I will be telling you about is my experience with Halloween and what I feel God is leading me to do.

Halloween was always a great part of my childhood. After all, what child doesn’t like to dress-up in costume and eat lots of candy? One year, my brothers and I put together a haunted house in our basement all by ourselves and then opened it up to the kids in the neighborhood. I was the bloody dead girl in the coffin who sat up and screamed at them when they walked past. And as a parent, I initiated my own child into this annual frenzy of make-believe with ghost stories and visits to the local haunted house and let’s not forget the pillowcase full of candy that was gone in a week.

My second husband really had the Halloween spirit and each year the graveyard on our front lawn grew bigger and spookier and there were new surprises for the kids every year. I remember one year, a little boy refused to step on our property. His dad told him it would be fine and just to prove it, he came to the door for his son’s candy while the boy waited at the mailbox. That year, my husband had rigged a giant mutant bat creature to fly over the heads of the trick-or-treaters as they came up the walk and just as this dad was trying to prove his point to the boy, the creature glided over the dad’s head and the man screamed. And then of course he laughed.

Some might ask, “Where was your Christianity in all of this?” and I must admit that for the last few Halloweens before my husband left me, I was a Christian. But this was all in fun. There’s no harm in just pretending, is there? Sure, Halloween may have been based on pagan rituals and occult celebrations in the past, but that was long ago. In today’s society, isn’t it just a commercial holiday that has no spiritual or religious significance? At least that’s what I told my Christian friend who was opposed to participating in Halloween festivities or allowing her children to trick-or-treat.

After my husband left me, Halloween wasn’t as fun anymore and since I didn’t have trick-or-treaters coming to my apartment, I stopped engaging in Halloween but saw no reason not to at least check out the local Halloween shops to see the new decorations and displays. It was on one such trip to a Halloween shop that I began to question my original assumptions. While I was enjoying a creative graveyard display with a no-faced, black-robed creature with bony hands raised, hovering in front of the cardboard cemetery, I was suddenly overcome with a distinct sense of pure evil. Not even Steven King with all his experience could describe the touch of pure evil I encountered that day, so I won’t even try. Unnerved and terrified, I ran from the store. As I sat in my car, I couldn’t get rid of the feeling of being coated in a slimy darkness, as if I had run through a pool of tar or molasses and it had now hardened and adhered to my skin. That was my last visit to a Halloween shop.

These last few weeks, that moment in the Halloween shop has been resurfacing in my memory at the sight of the neighborhood decorations and I am feeling uneasy at seeing them. When I asked God what I needed to know when it came to the subject of Halloween, he led me to the following scriptures:

Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, NIV)

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. (3 John 1:11, NIV)

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephesians 5:8-11, NIV)

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2, NIV)

In good conscience, I cannot be a part of something that encourages the practice of or the illusion of that which is evil. I’m not saying that our little ones shouldn’t enjoy dressing up in costume and playing make-believe. Every childhood should be filled with that. What I’m saying is that while little Suzy is running around in her favorite princess outfit, she is witnessing the adults she trusts approve of serial slashers, witches, ghouls and zombies as they hand out treats to all with equal enthusiasm. She is walking through dry ice fogged cemetery replicas populated with skeletons, ghosts, and demonic figures, to the sound of spooky music all meant to enhance her Halloween fun. And though she may not be sensitive to it, she is walking through and being covered in the same evil I experienced in the Halloween shop. So this year, if I had a porch light, it would be off and I will most definitely be praying for all the children and their parents who are out and about on Halloween that they will remain physically and spiritually safe from harm and evil.

About the pictures:
Deer Lake Park (October 2010)

4 comments:

Green Grandma said...

Thank you for sharing this story, Maureen. I'm with you every step of the way on this one.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with you! Like you I had an experience quite similar to yours and I've not participated or acknowledged Halloween since that night in 1993.

Audrey said...

I respect your opinion on this, but also respectfully disagree. I remember talking about Halloween with one of my favorite minister friends. I asked him if he had any second thoughts or objections to the children in our program celebrating Halloween. He shook his head no, and very emphatically stated that there is nothing...and certainly not Halloween...that is more powerful in evil than God is in goodness. There was a strength and passion to his words...and those words touched me. In some ways Halloween tests some of our fears and phobias in a safe way, but every day and every way God tests our goodness and compassion Him for each other. His goodness always wins. There is no power of Halloween over our God and His goodness and grace. I enjoy and laugh at some of the crazy decorations, and smile watching the neighborhood children transform into their "alter egos" for one night at the end of October...and for a moment...just a moment, I remember my sons in that furry tiger costume that they each had a turn wearing so many years ago. Just my feelings on the subject.
Audrey

Maureen Profeta said...

Audrey,

Thank you for your comment. I also agree with your minister friend that nothing can overcome or defeat God. And I also respect your opinion as well. If you note, I did say that I was not going to tell anyone how to approach Halloween and that’s because I whole-heartedly believe that it is a matter much like the food and drink that Paul talks about in Romans 14. Verse 14 says, “As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean.” For me, Halloween is unclean. You might find it interesting to know that as one who works in the church, I am fortunate enough to count many ministers among my friends and amazingly enough the four that I come in contact with the most (and whom I hold in very high regard) are split down the middle – two for and two against celebrating Halloween. (At no time did any of them try to influence my decision but they were very helpful in providing information.) I also have very fond memories of my son “becoming” Batman, Wolverine, a ghostbuster and a teenage mutant turtle among others. Sometimes, I think that our children are being forced to grow up too fast these days. A good childhood is filled with such make-believe and joy. It’s in becoming these character and heroes that our children begin to discover a little bit about themselves. It should not be limited to one day. However, I feel that we should also be responsible enough to not let our children “become that which is evil” even for one day.

Be Blessed!
Maureen