As October progresses toward the infamous Halloween celebration at month’s end, I’m tossing around a few questions.
Can Halloween be redeemed?
What is the olde Christian observance of All Hallows Eve about?
Are Christian horror novels an oxymoron?
First, what about Halloween celebrations? My daughter’s eighth grade class at school is anticipating Halloween. Most will wear costumes, thought some feel they’re too old and will trick or treat with their friends in jeans and a sweat shirt. This is an evening that drifts into early night when they go around in groups without parental supervision and they’re all up for it, bigtime. Teachers usually don’t give homework on Halloween so kids can get out early and get their sugar fix. My husband and I don’t have any safety fears on Halloween. Our neighborhood is quite benign.
I’ve always been torn over Halloween. We adopted our daughter at the age of six out of a situation of abuse and neglect. Before coming to live with us she’d not gotten to do many things other children get to do and she begged us to be allowed to trick or treat. We caved. From ages six through 11 we accompanied her as she trotted around the neighborhood as an angel, a Chinese lady, a cat and other non ghoulish things. Age 12 was a biggie. All her friends were going around without their parents. We relented and allowed her to go out after school with her friends but she had to be in by supper. For supper she stayed in her costume and we all walked down to the local pizza parlor where some sort of pink supergirl, a monster bride, and a few Star Wars characters were munching on their slices. After eating, my husband and I stood out in front of the pizza parlor longer than we’d have liked to, allowing our daughter to feel as if she were hanging out with her friends after dark. This is the positive social side and family fun side of Halloween. I look to Joseph in the Old Testament who worked within the idolatrous culture of Pharaoh’s Egypt.
Although I’m a post modern, urban Christian, I’m also quite orthodox theologically. I raise my hands in worship, go bazonkers over hard driving Christian rock music, and adhere to the Apostle’s Creed. I’ve long been fascinated by the observance of All Hallow’s Eve in the church. All Hallows Eve (October 31st) is the night before Hallowmas (November 1st, now called All Saints Day). Protestant churches understood “saints” as it’s used in the Bible to mean all God’s faithful. As early as the 7th century the Anglican Church and Church of Scotland observed All Hallows as a solemn day to commemorate all unknown saints who had gone on to heaven, especially those who had been martyred, as does the Roman Catholic Church. In the Byzantine rite it is observed the first Sunday after Pentecost.
So, what about Christian horror novels? Not to mention Christian horror movies. Apparently there is quite an audience ready to gobble these up. Explicitly Christian horror stories featuring fear, dread, the grotesque, ghost and vampire stories, Gothic tales, dark fantasy, weird occurrences, chillers that go bump in the night are not a rare occurrence any more. There are Christian publishing houses that feature such stories (Marcher Lord Press, Treasureline Books, and others) by Christian authors for Christian readers with a Christian world view.