Saturday, October 30, 2010

In Defense of Trick or Treating

Trick or treating, the great evangelical taboo. I was raised in the 80’s. Celebrating Halloween was sure to put one on the emergency prayer chain. My parents bought large picture books explaining why Halloween’s ancestral roots were not to be celebrated. We were all fascinated by the message from supposed ex-Satanist Mike Warnke. Remember him? He was the Christian comedian who wowed audiences with stories of satanic rituals and life as high priest in the Church of Satan. We discovered later, he is a fraud with a very active imagination.  Instead of renouncing Anton LaVay he’s a wal-Mart greeter I believe.

Youth pastors were obsessed with the musical messages revealed in backward masking. I spent many a youth group trying to listen for the hidden words like Sex and Drugs when the record was played backwards. No one really asked the obvious question, “Why are we listening to music backwards?”

Halloween was a no-no. We had harvest parties at church instead. Apples and candy and potlucks made up for our inability to go all costume crazy and beg for candy. Reformation Day and dressing like Martin Luther replaced Frankenstein and the Goonies.

I remember one time in church, my mother publicly chastised the women’s group for even entertaining the thought of carving pumpkins. She had read somewhere that people used to carve faces into pumpkins in an attempt to ward off evil spirits. Of course, that begs the question, “What kind of spirit is going to be afraid of a face carved into a gourd?”

Halloween was always a nightmare for us. Either we got to hand out candy to the lucky kids who got to trick or treat, or we turned off our porch light and hid downstairs, hoping the door bell would quit ringing. Tons of fun, either way.

Here’s the funny thing-I take my kids trick or treating and my mom goes with us. Ever since Jackson was a baby, I dressed that kid up and peddled the street for my lost share of candy. Now that I have five kids, I can bring in quite a haul. I feel vindicated.

Every now and then, I’ll run into the family who has renounced Halloween and chastise those who don’t. I’m usually wearing a mask so they don’t recognize me.

Here’s why I like Halloween: community. Our neighborhood goes crazy for Halloween. There’s music, fog machines, yard ornaments, inflatable pumpkins and Frankenstein. One neighbor gave candy to kids and Jell-O shots to the adults. There’s warm cider and donuts, conversations and slow walks. There’s laughter and greetings and introductions. It’s the one time of the year when my neighbors sit on their porch and wait for us to visit.  Neighbors I’ve never met will introduce themselves; neighbors who are too busy to visit will slow down and enjoy the  night. There is no bigger invitation any time of the year.

Instead of rushing into our houses, it’s nice to sit out in the open and see who lives behind the closed doors.

I could shut off my porch light or hand out some tracts, condemning the holiday and all that it could mean. Or, I could lay the foundation for what could be a meaningful relationship. If my community is sending me an open invitation to stop and visit; to make acquaintances and memories, that’s exactly what I will be celebrating.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Amen. Praise God for that mindset.