Chapter 142 [day 224]: Wednesday 28 October
Good morning everyone
In three days’ time, millions of people across the world will ‘celebrate’ Halloween, although I personally would question if it is truly a ‘celebration’. The name Halloween is of course short for All Hallows Eve, the day before All Hallows or All Souls day inaugurated in the 8th century by Pope Gregory. Celts believed that on the night before their new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night midway between the autumn equinox and solstice they celebrated Samhain when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. The Celtic people occupied parts of what is now Wales, Ireland, northern France and the traditions of Halloween travelled to USA with Irish immigrants escaping the great potato famine between 1845-49.
Today, an increasing number of experts, both Christian and non-Christian, including psychologists and behavioural scientists are becoming more concerned about the harmful effects of modern Halloween celebrations, particularly on our children. The following article was written a few years back by well-known Anglican clergyman, Canon J John.
Halloween has become one of the big events in the British calendar. There have always been traditions associated with 31st October, but the present extravaganza, with its epidemic of ‘trick-or-treating’, is a recent phenomenon. At the beginning of the 21st century, UK spending on Halloween was around £12m. Forecast for 2020 boosted by Hollywood and retail marketing but excluding the effect of the current lockdowns have projected around £600m. Financially, Halloween is now, after Christmas and Easter, our third highest grossing celebration in the UK. Yet Halloween has seized this position without any serious consideration of what it stands for and whether or not we even want it.
When people talk about what happens on 31st October a phrase commonly heard is that Halloween is ‘harmless nonsense’. But is it indeed harmless? Is it merely nonsense?
Let’s consider six reasons why Halloween is not harmless:
1. HALLOWEEN CELEBRATES EVIL
Although people celebrate Halloween in different ways it remains, at its core, an event that glorifies the dark, creepy and scary side of life. Children and adults dress up as figures that are ‘evil’: witches, vampires, ghosts and demons. If you want to be different you can hire costumes to make you look like a chainsaw killer, a psychopathic butcher or even a shooting victim (‘with authentic-looking bullet holes’).This is hardly harmless.
Whatever view we have about life we all take it for granted that our society should spend time and energy encouraging children to care for others and to know the difference between right and wrong. Yet on this one day, we throw all those values away and glorify everything that is evil and unpleasant. Talk about sending out mixed messages!
2. HALLOWEEN IS UNHELPFUL
We live in a world where every parent and teacher is careful to warn children that strangers may pose a threat and that they need to take precautions. Yet at Halloween we discard that rule and encourage young children to go and knock on doors and accept sweets from strangers. Another mixed message!
3. HALLOWEEN TRIVIALISES BAD THINGS
No one is in doubt that evil is serious and that muggings, stabbings and serious accidents are horrendous. Yet, again, Halloween breaks the rules. On this day we pretend that death, deformity and injury are no more than kids’ play!
4. HALLOWEEN IS OFFENSIVE
You could simply say that scaring kids is unhelpful, but there is a more subtle and troubling issue. Halloween costumes frequently centre on deformities, gory wounds and disfigurement. There are a number of websites that tell you how to create an effective disfigurement; for example, how to create realistic-looking burns and how to make yourself hideously ugly.
Now consider how you would feel about that if you yourself were a burns victim, were severely disabled or had suffered horrendous scarring. Do we really want to spread the message that ugliness equates to evil?
5. HALLOWEEN IS GETTING WORSE
Concerns about Halloween do not simply come from those of us with a ‘religious agenda’. Increasingly, psychologists and behavioural scientists are expressing concern, particularly about the way that Halloween seems to be getting darker and nastier every year. Carved pumpkins were pretty harmless but blood-stained axe murderers are not. If we don’t like the direction that Halloween is going in, then maybe it’s time to stop celebrating it.
6. HALLOWEEN ALLOWS EVIL A VICTORY
In some older Halloween traditions people dressed up in clothes that made them look evil and then, at the end of the evening, the outfits were burnt. The message was clear if naive: in the end, good triumphs over evil. Yet there is no hint of that in the modern Halloween. Now, evil is unchallenged and just slips away into the darkness, to return at some other time. That’s not the message our world needs today.
Psalm 115:17-18 - It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to the place of silence; it is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore.
Isaiah 8:19 - When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?
The pressure, particularly on young families, to conform to the Halloween traditions is so powerful and today’s parents need spiritual strength and understanding to guide their children in a safe direction.
Here’s a hymn that asks for God’s wisdom and guidance >>> LEAD US HEAVENLY FATHER LEAD US
· I did announce in last Sunday morning’s service, but then omitted it from our email on Sunday afternoon, the death of Mike Smith’s sister, Joan Bassett after years of battling cancer. Her husband John Bassett is suffering Alzheimer’s and lives in a care home. John and Joan had many contacts with Falcon Lodge Chapel back in the 1950’s and helped with a number of our outreach meetings in those days. John last came to the Chapel in 2004 and gave an interesting talk about the history of Falcon Lodge estate as part of our Chapel 50th Anniversary celebrations.
· Reminder - if you intend to join us at the Chapel on Sunday morning and have not already reserved your place, please let us know by Friday so we can add you to the seating plan.
MAKE YOU SMILE:
Enjoy the brief spell of dry weather today.