Wednesday, October 24, 2007



Hallowe'en (or just "Halloween"). As if we Christians didn't have enough issues to split us into multiple camps as it is: homosexuality, women priests, women bishops, the hymn/song debate, the Filioque issue, robes or no robes, the appropriateness of pebbles in worship... But Hallowe'en is another one, and it's interesting because it seems to create different fracture lines to some of the other issues. Although you can guess where some people are likely to go on it (most conservative Evangelicals would be against celebrating it, for instance, in my experience), others who you might think would have strong views don't. And vice versa.

But it's one of those issues on which people feel that they _ought_ to have strong views, and it's an issue which has been raising its head more in the UK than it did, say, 10 years ago. This is because the retail sector (read "supermarkets", mainly) have realised that there's a big, big buck to be made from selling costumes and food and accoutrements to children and their parents. That and because it's a major cultural event in the US which we've picked up on from their media.

So, why do people think that they ought to have a view on it? Well, for Christians, the view that's been fed by the strongly anti-Hallowe'en brigade is that it's a celebration of darkness and evil which is linked to a pagan past and which is inherently un-Christian. I can kind of see this, although I'd come back with the contention that at least we're remembering a Christian festival here (albeit possibly levered into a pre-Christian consciousness of spirits and animus-worship). All Hallows' Eve is about remembering all those who've died in the faith, and that's a good thing. Looking at the dark side is less so, I agree, and there are dangers there, but for most people - and certainly most kids, and that's where lots of the concern arises, I suspect - the dark side (evil) really isn't what's being celebrated. The best type of "trick or treating" (which most of us in the UK seem to have missed) is about families having fun and bonding with other people in their community in a joint community pursuit - of which, God knows, we have too few.

That's not to say that I'm entirely happy about it, and in particular about the blatant commercialisation of (yet another) Christian festival, but I think that Hallowe'en exists as an education opportunity, rather than as a ranting opportunity, and that's where I'd like to start the debate from a Christian standpoint. I look forward to reading what my fellow synchrobloggers have to say on the subject: I do hope they're not all as woolly liberal as I am...


Today is a "synchroblog" on the subject of "Christianity and Paganism". If you've liked what you read here, or, more particularly, if you didn't, and you'd like to read some other opinions, please visit one of the other participating blogs:

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shame commersialism is what cathes on over here...we'd do well to adopt the family time in some way...having said that like you I am not sure halloween is the time to do that....
I have a few creative ideas of my own on that subject...

one last point- pebbles/stones in worship - controversial-- really???? I thought it was now a tradition!
i used to work at a "party supply store" and we used to say that halloween was our christmas i.e. we made almost all our money from halloween sales. i just say that in agreement with your idea that halloween is incredibly commercialized. that might be the most "evil" thing about it. nice post.
You thoroughly dangerous "woolly criminal liberal" you.
Hello Mike --

"Woolly Liberal?" I'd love to meet a truly "woolly liberal" out there whether in cyberspace or real time.

For a truly "woolly" discussion/ exploration of the Revised Common Lectionary from the point of view of the theology suggested by Spong, Crossan, Borg and others, see my website at I would appreciate serious discussion there.

I also have weighed in with this synchroblog -- fascinating.
"The best type of "trick or treating" (which most of us in the UK seem to have missed) is about families having fun and bonding with other people in their community in a joint community pursuit - of which, God knows, we have too few."

Well said.
Halloween is still my fave holiday though:-)

What pebbles?

What do you do with them?

What arcane ritual have I missed?

Trick or treat I've ehard of, though not seen in practice, but pebbles?

Please tell!
pebbles are a bit of an in joke steve- I use stones in alt worship- and mike and gary seem to teake great offense at this creativity- they have threatened to " stone" me... how mean!!!!
It's Gary who objects. I just "tut" and talk about "real liturgy". :-)
yes well tutting and threats- I'm surprised I talk to either of you...

maybe I'll start a stones and tea-lights group on facebook!!!
Having lived last spring in the UK, I was impressed with less commercialism than we have here in the US. I suppose it will grow - Mammon has a way of getting after us. Much more scary than participating in Halloween!
The only thing worse than arguing over 'stuff' is the commercialization of it. Good post. :-)
I'd like to thank everyone who's commented on this post: I seem to have touched a nerve!
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