Can Christians Do "Bump In The Night?"

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.

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About NikeChillemi

Nike Chillemi has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction. She writes literature that reads like pulp fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad, and her good guys smarter and better. She is the founder and chair of the Grace Awards, a member of ACFW. She has judged numerous literary awards including the Grace Awards, Carol Awards, Inspy Awards, and the Eric Hoffer Awards. View all posts by NikeChillemi

15 responses to “Can Christians Do "Bump In The Night?"

  • Mel

    I just finished, Rabbit, Chasing Beth Rider. It's a Christian vampire series. Not my normal read but I've become friends with the author. Aside from a few stomach turning stuff, I thoroughly enjoyed it! But I love a good story, especially one that can encompass Christ and bring bad guys to the Lord, even in fiction. I too have struggled with Halloween. I don't let the kids dress up in scary costumes. I have never celebrated it, other than as a fun night to dress up and have fun, so for us, I feel okay with it. But we went to a very conservative church for years and it was very frowned upon to participate. I think it's a very individual choice, I don't know that God always convicts each of our hearts the same way. I think we can raise children with solid Christian faiths and also allow them to have a little fun :)Blessings,MelPlease feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

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  • Nike Chillemi

    I've read Beth Rider.It was a Grace Awards finalist last year. Ellen C Maze is a terrific gal. I agree that if we raise them up right, we do have to trust them a bit. Monitoring their every step won't teach them how to deal with the world and eventually they will have to navigate out there.

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  • JessKeller

    My parents, who are straight laced reformists, always let us trick-or-treat. Their taught us that imagination and pretend are good things so we were encouraged to be whatever we wanted that day, but they drew the line at anything "scary/ghoulish/demonic" because they taught us that we shouldn't aspire to be those things. I have so many great memories of trick-or-treating with siblings and friends and I'm so glad that my parents let us have that "in the world but not of it" experience.As for Christian horror and paranormal stuff, I look to Paul where he says he becomes all things to all people in order to expand the Kingdom of Christ. We do a disservice when we claim that Christ cannot work through a certain means. I believe that most forms of literature can be "christian" as long as the evil is not glorified and as long as Christ is shown victorious.

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  • Nike Chillemi

    Jess, I also have wonderful childhood Halloween memories. We lived in rural upstate NY. Dairy farms and apple orchards. We didn't buy costumes but rather put together our own costumes. I recall wearing my aunt's old prom dress one year w/a turtle neck and jeans under it as it was chilly. So you had a kid in jeans and sneakers running around with all the pink netting swirling around. Other kids dressed similarly: and uncle's hunting or fishing outfit, an old fedora with a trench coat. Our costumes were pulled out of trunks in the attic. It was a blast.I agree with your take on what Christian authors can and cannot write. 🙂

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  • Jenna V

    Nike, I don't agree with the hard line against Halloween dress-up. Growing up in the early 60's it was a social norm – whether we were Catholic, Protestant, Methodist, Jewish, etc. everyone trick-or-treated in costume. We had a blast and got lots of cool candy. I never made the connection from Halloween to "demon worship" etc. in my mind. To me, it was a party that came around once a year. I still think that way. I don't have children but if I did I would let them wear whatever costume they wished – including witch, vampire, ghoul, and zombie. It's not reality – just harmless fun. Others take may vary, but that's mine.

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  • Tammy Doherty

    We've always celebrated Halloween with costumes, trick or treat, parties, etc. Our kids dress up as favorite characters – getting scarier as they grow older. But we stress the "All Hallows Eve" part of it, too, and the importance of honoring the dead in the sense of memorializing not worshiping.If you are of the belief that Halloween is Satanic, then you shouldn't cave and let your kids participate. But that, it think, is an individual family choice, like Mel said. And I agree with Jess, also, that we do a disservice to the Lord in limiting Him according to what we think is right. He's the one who makes the rules!On an aside, one year our daughter dressed as an urban legend – the girl in white. You know the story? A guy spots a girl in a white dress on the side of the road (where he's going varies); he gives her a ride home but the next day he finds out that she's been dead for years. Sadly, no one understood my daughter's costume. She was heart broken. It hasn't stopped her from "geeky" costume ideas though! Once, for our office Halloween celebration (we could dress for the day) I went as a "cereal killer" – I dressed in a lab coat to go along with my office group theme, but left boxes of cereal around the building, stabbed to death w/the plastic knife still sticking out! And I wrote Police press releases and newspaper stories about the serial killings. No one guessed it was me until late in the day!!We can have fun and still be firm in our faith. Just my 2 cents 😀

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  • Stephanie Rae Pazicni

    Growing up I always thought Halloween was about two things 1) Candy and 2) A Princess Costume. As an adult I realize that it is really about free chocolate. 😉 I'm a Speculative Fiction writer, and reader. That is the type of material I reach for first. I've always worked in the high-tech field and it has greatly influenced my writing, filling my mind with "what if's". Material like Ted Dekker's Circle Series is something that I feel has the power to stretch the imagination and also to really reach out and beckon to those searching. I gave several hardbound trilogy copies for Christmas one year. I just read Tosca Lee's "Demon… A Memoir" and was blown away by the well researched, beautifully written piece. These stories are nothing like mindless hollywood horror. I'm grateful to have such great material for those of us who can relate best to more unusual, outside the box stories.

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  • Nike Chillemi

    Jenna,I also never made the connection between Halloween shenanigans and devil worsship as a kid. I still don't.My daughter is adopted and came from an alcoholic, aubsive background. We did insist on happy costumes. She had night mares for several years after we adopted her, so since Halloween is a day for a heightened imagination, we insisted on "happy" costumes.

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  • Nike Chillemi

    Tammy,I think we can have fun with the day and still honor the Lord. I loved what you did w/the cereal killer. LOLWhen I child wants to dress up as a monster or a ghoul, that means the child's not afraid of that image…and that's good. Part of the ancient All Hallows Eve tradition of dressing like a goblin and such, was to make fun of them and to show them that people were not afraid of the demonic. That's a very good thing. We should laugh at the devil and his minions. Halloween's a good time to do that. We should have fun and let the enemy know he's powerless.

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  • Nike Chillemi

    Stephanie Rae,I'm a crime fiction writer and reader, but I did read Ellen Maze's Rabbit Run, Chasing Beth Rider. The Biblical premise intrigued me…what if ancient biblical race of Nephilim still existed as a force for evil?

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  • Carol McClain

    I think there's a place for Christian horror. I CANNOT fathom tales of demons because it's the truest form of horror–separating me from Jesus! (Let's not go there LOL). You can add Thomas Nelson to the publishing list–they published Eric Wilson's vampire series.

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  • Teric Darken

    We always have a "costume party" at our house for the kids, though we discourage demons, witches, and the like… not to say that we "have a talk" with anyone who may dress as such. I consider the intent: Are we doing this to worship some pagan god or sacrifice something to ol' Beelzebub himself? Certainly not. We're hosting a party – and yes, we use creepy decor like spiders and such, but again, no demons and the like – by doing so we give the kids a safe haven to simply have fun. The least thing on anyone's mind is honoring the spiritually dead.As for Christian horror and paranormal, I've always simply pointed to the Bible: John the Baptist beheaded… Elijah having the prophets of Ba'al killed… Moses having many Hebrews slain after worshiping the golden calf after coming down from the mountain… The Apostle Paul beaten and whipped… Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by The Adversary… and especially… The crucifixion of Jesus the Christ: All of it horror… many supernatural/paranormal stories too.As an author of supernatural/paranormal/thriller stories, I believe the key is to keep everything in proper context: I write about the darkness and horrors and supernatural for what it is: gross, evil, indeed, horrible (though the supernatural pertaining to God is the epitome of goodness)… But I also portray the Light for what and who He is: illuminating, saving, gracious, Omnipotent.God is light, and in Him there is no darkness whatsoever; we wrestle against principalities of the air; and as children of the Light, we slay the wicked.1 John 1:5, Eph. 6:12, Isaiah 11:4As iron sharpens iron…Teric Darken<><+><>

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  • Nike Chillemi

    Teric, Thx for you insightful comments. It sounds like a lot of fun at your house on Halloween. I think I'm coming over this year. I'll be the adult dressed in a curly red wig as Lucille Ball. LOLMostly, I don't ever want the enemy to think I'm afraid of him on this day. No, never.

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  • Bethany Macmanus

    Nike, why will you be needing a red haired wig to be Lucy? Wouldn't that be redundant? heheI agree with what everyone is saying here about Halloween celebration.I, too, came from a very conservative family growing up. We only went to church fall festivals if we did anything at all on Oct 31st. Now that I have a family of my own and both kids are old enough to enjoy trick or treating in a healthy way, we're going to do it for the first time ever! My oldest is going to be a spider, and my youngest a banana. lolAs far as Christian horror goes, I can only hope and dream about writing it as well as Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti in their horror novel House. Eric Wilson's vampire series was already mentioned, and I can't wait to dive into that since I've loved his The Best of Evil and Expiration Date, and of course the hit Fireproof. So yes, I believe Christian horror can make one of the greatest impacts for Christ in the fiction world if we let it. To God be the glory!

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  • Nike Chillemi

    Bethany,The only reason I need a red wig to go trick or treating as Lucy is that I need a 50s/60s hair style.I think Christian horror has a wonderful chance of reaching young people who have no reference point about Christ. Many young people doen't even know the basics about Christianity. They get no information about Jesus. All they hear is Christians are rigid bigots.

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