Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Reformation Day!

For those who are scratching their heads, Halloween is not the only holiday celebrated on October 31st. Today is also Reformation Day, as a few calendars still note. On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famed 95-Theses on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg. This act was the catalyst for what became known as The Protestant Reformation.

I was rather disappointed when I recently mentioned this fact to a group of friends and I was met with blank stares. They were discussing plans for a Halloween Party, and I countered by
inviting them to my exclusive (think "me, myself, and I") Reformation Party instead. I got puzzled looks, like "Oh, here Susan goes again. Another one of her soapboxes. . ."

I have in the past trick-or-treated and attended "Fall Festivals" (a euphemism for Halloween Parties hosted by churches and schools, for those unfamiliar with the term). Tonight I won't be doing either, no surprise since I am a little old for such events. But then, I also don't plan on participating in these events with my own (hypothetical) children. Why may you ask would I deprive my own children of that rite of childhood? Don't I want them to have a good life? As R.C. Sproul Jr. would say, "yes, but not the world's definition of 'the good life'".

As I set forward in my previous post on Christian Culture, Christians are to establish a separate and distinct culture in the world, as they are conformed more to Christ's image and as they fulfill the dominion mandate. Participating in a pagan holiday like Halloween certainly does not jive with this mandate of cultivating a separate culture for Christ; instead it merges the world's culture with the church. We are to replace the world's culture, not merely "Christianize" it.

Evangelical Christianity has adopted the philosophy of taking aspects of the world's culture and "Christianizing" them. Take a look at evangelical music, fiction books, clothing, movies, and other forms of entertainment for a sampling. Often we spend so much time "Christianizing" perversion that we would be better served by discarding it instead. The movie editing industry is a good example of this.

I admire those who take great pains to edit perverted movies for profanity, sex, nudity, and violence, but in all honesty a lot of the movies that are edited are just not worth watching even with the editing. I could pick on many movies, but I'll choose Titanic. My applause for editers that removed graphic sex, nudity, and profanity from the film, but they were still left with a movie brimming with an ungodly message. They would have done better to ignore the movie altogether or make a new film on the Titanic that was historically accurate and morally upright.

Christians have likewise tried to clean up Halloween by removing mentions of witches, even moving a celebration of the holiday to the previous Saturday and calling it a "Fall Festival" instead, thus seeking to make the celebration "neutral." We leave the candy, the costumes, many of the same terms, but leave our witch costumes at homes. Is the holiday neutral, though?

Not for a high priestess of Wicca that our local paper interviewed. As she said, for her and other witches, Halloween is a sacred time. Fall Festivals? Fine with her:

Zoeller [the witch] doesn't mind that some schools hold "fall festivals] instead
of Halloween carnvials because of pagan associations. As long as people are
celebrating the harvest and the change of seasons, they're celebrating
important facets of Wicca, she says. "That's the important thing, no matter
what they call it.

I've never been to a Fall Festival that resembled the meeting of a coven, but as this witch notes, even a "neutral" festival for Halloween celebrates important facets of Wicca. I'm not talking about any gathering that takes place in fall. I'm specifically talking about events that are meant to be "alternatives" to Halloween by "cleaning up" the holiday.

If we've managed to remove all pagan aspects of Halloween from our "Fall Festival" celebration, then what reason do we have left to celebrate? The reason left to celebrate, sometimes unspoken but usually admitted, is to fit in with the secular American culture. After all, who wants to be labeled a wacko for not celebrating a holiday, even if it is a pagan one? We're not supposed to be different from the world. A city on a hill is a bit much, after all. . .

Now tell me whether the seed of the woman or the seed of the devil is ahead in this culture war.

The Second Corinthians passage on being unequally yoked with unbelievers is most often cited in reference to marriage, but the original intent was likely much broader and I think applicable to issues like the celebration of Halloween. The following passage underscores the importance of the antithesis, as it was established in the Garden of Eden and carried throughout the Old Testament and then through the New Testament:

14Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has
righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
15What accord has Christ with Belial?
Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16What agreement has
the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God

"I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I
will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17Therefore go out from their
midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord,and touch no unclean thing; then
I will welcome you, 18and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and
daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty."

On October 31st, rather than yoking with unbelievers and participating in a pagan holiday - whether the unedited or edited version - Christians can instead celebrate a genuinely Christian holiday - Reformation Day. As I mentioned, October 31st is the day Martin Luther posted his 95-Theses and launched what became known as the Protestant Reformation. The general ignorance and apathy of reformation history is truly saddening to me. Every Christian should take the opportunity to learn about the great men who came before us, purging a very corrupt Christendom from heresy and paving the way for the religious freedom and clarity we enjoy today.

I am currently enjoying a biography on Martin Luther. It has taken me a great deal of time to read through it, as I have not been diligent in my reading of late and I am trying to savor it, rather than speed through it. There are so many weighty quotes to record for future ponderance. It was eye-opening to experience through Luther the newfound truths of the gospel, as he shed the shackles of Catholicism for a salvation by faith alone. It made me so thankful for men like him who established and nurtured the true gospel. His own hunger for truth was used of God to change the world.

What Karl Barth said of his own unexpected emergence as a reformer could be said
equally of Luther, that he was like a man climbing in the darkness a winding
staircase in the steeple of an ancient cathedral. In the blackness he reached
out to steady himself, and his hand laid hold of a rope. He was startled to hear
the clanging of a bell.

We owe to men like Luther the championing of the five great Solas of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura, Soli Deo Gloria, Solo Christo, Sola Gratia, and Sola Fide - the scripture alone is standard, to God alone be the glory, salvation is by Christ's work alone, salvation is by grace alone, justification is by faith alone. These are truths that most protestants take for granted, yet they were major issues in Luther's day. The reformers risked their lives that we may know these truths and be freely taught them today.

Who can hear the bold words of Luther at his hearing at the Diet of Worms without being moved?
Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the
authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my
conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant
anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help
me. Amen.

I encourage you to take the time sometime soon to study the men who risked their lives so that you might worship God today in spirit and in truth. Study Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and others and be thankful for the undeniable influence they have had on Christianity. We are reaping the rewards of their dedication several hundred years ago.

Tonight, while most of Americans are dressing up in costumes and participating in a holiday of pagan origins, this reformed girl will be finishing her biography on Martin Luther and thanking God for the events that He orchestrated from one seemingly insignificant act that happened on this day almost 500 years ago. . .

Soli Deo Gloria


Jessie said...

I posted a teeny bit about Reformation Day today too! Stop by and vist my new blog if you get a chance. I've enjoyed reading over yours!

Here's a math bit you might like: every perfect square ends in one of the following digits: 0,1,4,9,6, or 5. Write down your squares in order, and you'll see this pattern repeat from 1-4-9-6-5-6-9-4-1 with a 0 at every tenth square. A palindrome math pattern. Isn't that neat?? I figured that out one night a couple years ago when I couldn't go to sleep, and thought you might like that too : )

Happy Reformation Day!

Lydia said...

Amen and Amen! I couldn't agree with you more, Susan. I was thinking along these very lines as my dad and I went to Walmart to pick up a few items including candy for the "trick or treaters." I asked him if we were going to get candy for Refomration Day. My dad made the point of how disgusting it is in American culture how we commericialize everything. From a pagan, evil holiday such as Halloween to a holy, spiritual holiday as Christmas. It has come to a point that Halloween is almost as big as Christmas in sales for retailers. So sad. What to do?

Well, for me, I won't be home this evening. I'm going to my weekly BSF meeting which I'm very thankful for. I'm delighted to be learning more of God's word and having fellowship with his people over giving acknowledgment to a pagan, anti-God holiday. I, too, don't plan to celebrate Halloween with my children in the future should the Lord bless me with such. Thank you for the sobering and uplifting post. I plan to link to it from my blog.

Ben Garrison said...

Not that I don't agree that Christian culture has digressed from any real higher purpose, and that we should be different, I'm not sure that this is a very important way in which we can set ourselves apart. We're not just supposed to be different arbitrarily; we're supposed to be different by obeying Jesus' commands. It seems to me to be very similar to the issue of food being sacrified to idols. While it may feel to some like eating food that had taken part in a pagan ritual was taking part in the pagan ritual itself, Paul pointed out that that food is just food, and idols are not real gods. So if you're really not worshipping the idols, and you're just eating food, that's all there is to it. (however, he points out that not offending others' consciences is more important)

So, for example, if you had a friend who had been involved in the occult, and then became a Christian, I think then maybe you could look at it as an important issue.

Also, the Wiccan religion is a fairly disunified thing. As a religion, it's similar to an eastern religion in that it says nothing very specific, except that you shouldn't harm others, and other than that, you can do what you want. They also essentially "worship" nature, although not in the sense of asking it to give them things, so much as just thinking that it is utmost deserving of our protection. Also, similar to Buddhism, most people in the religion don't actually believe any of it, they just think it's a good way to live.

So, that being said, while some in the Wiccan religion may be involved in actual demonic activities, the religion in and of itself is not demonic.

Not only that, but if it's an issue of hijacking a pagan holiday, we should throw out christmas and easter as well. =)

So, I really just think that it's unimportant as a thing *not* to do. As far as if Reformation day is an important holiday...I realize that it's arguable, but I'm not sure that observing holidays is really important at all. The Jews needed holidays to remind them of what was important, and what God had done for them. ("Why is tonight different from every other night?") But I think that just like Jesus' sacrifice was the completion of old testiment ceremonial laws, the holy spirit is in a sense the completion of all of the laws trying to make sure the Israelites kept their focus on God. "As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you" I think we have an innate sense of what is right and wrong; I think the problem now is that we simply ignore it.

I'm not saying that either holiday is wrong, but I'm saying that they're both equally unimportant on a spiritual level. (You can just as easily remember the reformation on november 1st, or every other day of the year as on october 31st) As far as the good things that would possibly come out of celebrating reformation day, I think we should try to pursue those directly instead.

Our culture should be drastically different. If we followed commands like turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile, treating others as better than ourselves, not judging, etc., etc..., I think that our "culture" would stand out as being built on important things rather than unimportant things. (I think everything that we consider to be cultural is really unimportant...)

Hrm. Well, I was going to type more, but I need to go now...I'm interested to see what you have to say.


Jessie said...

(I posted this comment after yours earlier this evening on my blog... In case you didn't get a chance to see it, here it is on yours : ) )

Nice to meet you, Susan! I found you by searching for other people who typed "psalms" in their favorite music category!! I think you sound like a kindred spirit too- hope we can get to know each other better.
Yes, I go to a Free Presbyterian church and we are reformed. It's too bad your church doesn't celebrate this day! I'll pray for you- maybe you can start your own Reformation Day get-together for the people of your church. We usually watch some kind of historic documentary about some aspect of the Reformation at our church, after our dinner.
Speaking of which, if I don't get that casserole out of the oven, I'll be late!!
Thanks for the suggestion about the word-verification. I'm new to all this and I appreciate the advice. Although it does look good to see "2 comments" down there on my post! : )
Have a blessed evening!
In Christ,
Psalm 78:70-72

Sunny Yoon said...

Everybody here posts really really long comments....I don't like writing, so I'll make mine short...

My brother was born that day. That fact is more important that "halloween" ;)

Susan said...


I completely agree that we should be different by our actions, living examples in a dark world. I also believe, though, that our culture is also to be different than pop culture. Not to say that just because a good wholesome movie is popular we should reject it, but that Christians should strive for the things that are "lovely, admirable, and pure." That gets into Christian reconstructionism and dominionism, though, which is a whole other topic; too large to address here.

Concerning food sacrificed to idols: I found references to this three places in the NT.

First time, Acts 15:29, a command to abstain from eating food sacrificed to idols.

Second time, Acts 8, to which you were presumably referring, Paul indicates that it is not an issue, but what was his reason? As you correctly stated, the idols are not real gods. Note he also warns about doing so in a public place (the idol's temple) that it may cause a brother to stumble.

Third time, I Corinthians 10:14-22, refers to sacrifice to idols and demons: "What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or than an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of the demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons."

My interpretation(and I have not read any outside sources on this, except from your viewpoint) is that Paul is making a distinction between idols (who do not exist) and demons (who are very real). We are clearly instructed here not to be participants with demons in their table, so if the analogy in I Cor. 8 worked in defense of Halloween, I would submit that I Cor. 10 clarifies and works in reverse. Halloween is about demons, not false idols. Also, as celebration of a holiday is public, I would say it is different than eating food in private anyway.

As for the Wiccan religion being fairly disunified, I agree. Regardless, it is still a false religion and therefore not something I, as a Christian, would want to be associated with in any shape or form.

As for Christmas and Easter, Christians have replaced these pagan holidays with Christian holidays, not merely neutralized them, a difference I alluded to in my original post. Few people today even know that they were originally pagan holidays, whereas the roots of Halloween are alive and well-known today. Just look at the ghastly decorations, which I hope are swiftly removed today. . .

I wasn't trying to make a case that one must observe Reformation Day, so sorry if that is what it sounded like. I was making a case, though, that we should take the time to study the great men who came before us in the faith. I think Reformation Day is a good opportunity, although as you said, it is important all year long. Which is why it bugs me that Easter and Christmas are relegated to specific parts of the year. . .

For me , Halloween comes down to this. I look at the pagan origins of Halloween and the remainders of those origins; the ghastly decorations, the sacredness ascribed to it by witches et al, even the sacrifices that some make on this day. I don't want any part in that, however little. I am happy to separate myself from this and distinguish myself from it. I want to be a city set on a hill, in actions, words, and deeds. And yes, I have soooo far to go, as you well know ;).

Anyway, I've typed long enough. I think our main difference deals with issues of Christian culture, which as I said, is a much bigger topic and too large to tackle here. I am preparing to delve into that study topic more in depth, but waiting for some inter-library loans to come in. . .

Thanks for your thoughts. Do we ever get to see you (and Stephanie) again?

Ben Garrison said...

Tallest Sister,

That's a good question. I'll talk to my calendar and ask her if we will any time soon. =)

As for the comments about easter and christmas, you're right, they aren't the same as halloween, although I think they are fairly similar. Just like the ghoulish symbols are rements of all hallows eve, all of our easter bunny decorations are rements of pagan fertility celebrations, and the giving of presents is rements of the sun-god celebrations in two different pagan cultures. But, just because we haven't completely replaced the holiday (do we still give presents?), and it's continuing to look a lot like the ancient pagan celebration (da da da da), doesn't mean that it's completely evil to celebrate. Although consumerist greedy aspect is. =) As bah-humbug as I get about it sometimes, at the core of it, Christmas is a nice time to spend with family and all of that.

I mean, in all fairness, usually christians do forego the ghoulish decorations et. al., and generally just go with a fall theme, and general candy-giving carnivalesque stuff. So it is kind of similar, the only big difference is really that we haven't replaced it with anything substantially meaningful.

I agree with your last post on christian culture. I think our "culture" should be shunning the unimportant, and embracing the eternal. But here, I think you're shunning the unimportant for the slightly less unimportant. =) If you said that instead of celebrating halloween and trick-or-treating, you were going to help out at a homeless shelter or a nursing home or something, I would be more inclined to think that that was important. I don't deny that celebrating reformation day has more value than going to a candy carnival, which is empty, but I think what you're saying is that it is actually evil, which I don't agree with.

Anyway, so I was referring to I Corinthians 8, not 10. But I think they both have the same message. He specifically says that it is intrinsically OK to eat food sacrificed to idols, but as a matter of offending others' consciences, we shouldn't. (which, I believe, is the reason that that was mentioned in the letter to the gentile churches - in addition to the blood thing, I guess it was a contentious issue)

I mean, I'm sure that you wouldn't feel like dressing up like pippi longstockings and bobbing for apples at the church is in any way shape or form worshipping demons, any more than exchanging presents on december 25th is worshipping the sun god. Of course...our family never has waited 'till december 25th, but...that's another story entirely. =)

I agree that we should look to set ourselves apart as a city on a hill, but we should be careful that we distinguish ourselves in important ways. The pharisees were very different, and very separated from the world...but in the wrong ways - in unimportant ways. To them, they were going extra lengths to avoid a command that God gave them (e.g. straining water before drinking it), but focusing on that made them miss the big picture of what God wanted for them. I'm not saying that you are, but I think it's at least an important thing to remember, because I think that especially fundamentalist christians have a habit of drifting off into secluded corners of society where they cease to be salt and light because of issues like this.

Oh dear, I've typed too much. I'm gonna go eat. ttfn. =)

~Your loving big brother

Susan said...

Only Brother,

You are right concerning Easter decorations, but please don't say our easter bunny decorations, as I don't have any, nor, presumably, do you ;). I don't associate with the easter bunny for many other reasons as well. . . Look for a post on Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy coming Christmas Season 2005 :).

As for the present-giving at Christmas, I actually didn't know that, so good point. As you know, I'm not into excessive gift giving at Christmas, and neither are you. I hate swapping $20 bills 'round the Christmas tree, but I love giving small, meaningful gifts. . Look for a post on Commercialism coming Christmas Season 2005. Hehe.

Once again, though, the fact that almost no one now knows that Christmas and Easter are pagan in origin, especially specific practices like gift giving, makes it a different issue than Halloween. Besides, if the pagan origins of Easter and Christmas are with false idols (presumably), and Halloween is with real demons, once again we have differentiation (Acts 10). Thirdly, we have replaced, not neutralized, the giving of gifts in a sun-god celebration to the giving of gifts as symbolism of the gift of Christmas, the Lord Jesus.

I am fully aware, as you indicated, that attending a Fall Festival or even trick-or-treating is not the same thing as attending an animal sacrifice to demons :). I personally just want to remove myself from association to the holiday completely. I definitely think there are varying levels of participating in a pagan holiday.

While I am a self-described fundamentalist, I am not the typical variety ;). I do know what you are talking about regarding seclusion, though. Definitely a downfall to avoid. Also, one good point to remember regarding the salt and light passage is the latter part of the verse: "But if the salt loses its saltiness it cannot be made salty again. What is it good for but to be trampled on the ground?" I personally believe that was the original emphasis on the verse, but I am no Greek scholar :).

Does Stephanie know you called her your calendar? Isn't that like 3rd party in Andy Griffith or something ;).

Anyway, 'nuff said.

Soli Deo Gloria

helen said...

As I glanced at your post I said, now what was the last of October anyway? Oh, it was Halloween?...really? Shows how much attention we pay it around here. :-P

Ben Garrison said...

I'm enjoying this discussion much more than others that we've had. =P

Re-reading what paul says in I corinthians 10, I'm now undecided on what exactly paul is saying in this chapter. It seems like in chapter 8, he was talking about eating food sacrificed to idols as being OK, but in chapter 10, it seems like he's saying it's worshipping demons. I -think- the distinction that he's making is eating the food vs. actually participating in the sacrifice, but I'm not sure. What do you think?

Your point about salt was good ...what I said wasn't entirely correct. I re-read the verses in matthew, and I guess salt and light are two distinct ideas. Salt represents our holiness, and light represents people seeing our good deeds and praising God. I think we agree more than you might think. I agree that concerning ourselves with important things vs. unimportant things is a matter of staying "salty". But I disagree that having a fall festival is any worse than having a lock-in or something. I think the important thing is to focus on the good that we can be doing rather than focusing on finding every little bad thing in the mundane things of life. I would be with you if your rant was out of frustration that christians don't give more sacrificially, or that we come off as extremely judgemental when that's exactly what Jesus told us not to be.

I think the roots of halloween aren't terribly important, since the practice as it is now is in no way worshipping demons. If you dig deep enough, I'm sure you can find demonic roots to many of the things that we do, but just like just because santa claus has christian roots doesn't make putting out 3 glowing santas in your yard something that is in any way pleasing to God, having a fall festival is even further removed from worshipping demons. You can easily make the case that giving presents isn't bad; there are good things about it. Giving is a very christian thing to do. In the same way, giving kids a fun thing to do is a good thing. And if you see trick-or-treating as evil (which I would still disagree with =P), it's a good thing for kids to have fun in a church rather than trick-or-treat.

Now, if your argument was that it is not *best*, then I would be on board with you, although I have to admit that reformation day is not a very compelling replacement, just like 25 manger scenes scattered around the house is not a very compelling replacement for santa claus. =) As much as we laughed at Janet's donation gifts as kids, I don't think that's a bad idea. If you want our family to just donate money to charities instead of giving each other stuff that we don't need, then that's a more compelling replacement. =P (I can hear Hannah saying "yeah!" in the background. =P)

Anyway...I think my point is kind of related to your last post on christian culture...saying that there's a difference between asking "is this permissible", and "is this God's best". I think this is really the same issue. "Is fall festival permissible" vs. concentrating on what the best thing is that we could be doing. Celebrating reformation day doesn't seem to be a categorically better option. For most churches. If you had Reformation Day festival at the church, it would probably be either boring for kids, or pretty much the exact same thing with a new name. Or, if you don't have any activity associated with reformation day, then you've really just replaced spending time with people with doing nothing...which isn't very much better.

I could be wrong, but I'm starting to come to the conclusion that issues like this come up because we don't spend enough of our time and energy serving God. If me and my imaginary kids went and visited people in nursing homes every day in the evenings, then maybe taking time off of that to dress up and get candy would seem like less important of a thing. But as it is, if your alternative is sitting at home and reading, or telling everyone "I'm celebrating reformation day today", then I don't think that it's a very easy argument to make that doing halloweeny things is worse.

Another thing I was thinking about the high priestess' comment is that her saying that a fall festival is fine with her is very much an attempt to sound agreeable and rid perception of her religion of the stigma of demon worship and evilness. Just because *she* says that she's cool with it doesn't mean anything. She would also be cool with the golden rule, since the primary precept of her religion is "An it hurt none, do what ye will". That doesn't mean that the golden rule is bad or demonic.

Even if a fall festival were about celebrating the changing of the seasons, from a christian perspective, it would be OK. Seasons are a gift from God, and they demonstrate his love of beauty. It's who we're thanking that matters. As it is, though, we don't treat it like a holiday so much as "something else to do that's fun". Just like with the presents, just because exchanging presents was a pagan tradition, it doesn't mean we have to throw it away entirely just for the sake of being different.

I would definitely say that you have more of a point with respect to dressing up like a witch or a devil and going around trick-or-treating, but...anyway...

I ramble. =)


Mrs.B. said...

" because I think that especially fundamentalist christians have a habit of drifting off into secluded corners of society where they cease to be salt and light because of issues like this."

I think you're using the word 'fundamentalist' too loosely...and in a judgemental, unfair way. I am a fundamentalist and go to a fundamentalist Church and we're nothing like your quote describes.

Jessie said...

Hey! You added me to your blogs of interest list! Thanks!!
I think I'll just e-mail you rather than keep on posting these comments all the time, what do you think? : )

Susan said...

E-mailing you was on my "to-do" list. How funny. I guess great minds think alike :). I'm not sure if I'll get that done tonight, and tomorrow I teach, but it is in my near-future plans :). Yes, that would be great if you'd e-mail me.

Susan said...

I think, but I am not sure, that in I Corinthians 10 Paul was differentiating between eating food sacrificed to false idols and food sacrificed to real demons. He says in chapter 8 that eating sacrificial food is okay, but in chapter 10 it is not okay, not to mention that passage in Acts that I mentioned before that charged Christians to abstain from food sacrificed to idols. Seems kind of a bizarre charge to give someone right before sending them off, so I'm thinking some more historical context is needed. It must have been an issue of some prominence at the time since it is mentioned a few times, and without studying the historical context I guess I'm not sure of the original intent since the three passages do not seem in total accord, unless Acts and I Cor 10 are talking about sacrifice to demons, and I Cor 8 is referring to sacrifice to false idols. Interesting thought you had about eating the food v. participation. That is a possible interpretation of Chapter 10, although I think verse 21 seems to indicate that he is still talking about eating.

But I disagree that having a fall festival is any worse than having a lock-in or something.

I was clarifying to mom and dad that while I am opposed to Halloween gatherings, I admitted that it is possible that in 10 or 20 years I may show up to a Fall Festival of-sorts with my dozen kids in tow, although I highly doubt it. Trick-or-treating, now that I cannot see. It would depend on the type of Fall Festival and of course ultimately it would be up to my (hypothetical) husband.

About lock-ins. . . I actually consider co-ed lock-ins to be a bad idea, more so than Fall Festivals for sure. I cannot see letting my teenager participate in a co-ed lock-in, while I can see moderating my view on certain types of Fall Festivals. Funny you should use that as an analogy. But I digress. . . Off-topic again :).

Very good point about focusing on the good. I remember Mrs. Z mentioning churches they've been in where there was so much emphasis on what not to do that Christian joy was missing. I think it is a fine balance to keep.

As for a Reformation Day celebration being boring for kids, that would depend largely on the nature of the gathering and on how the children were raised :). You are right that it could turn into a mundane, meaningless gathering. I don't think pin-the-95-theses-on-the-church-door is any more holy or worthwhile than pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey :).

I think you're right about the high-priestess' comment, actually. It is rather meaningless, given her own form of Wicca, and her answer was vague.

Oh, and when we laughed at Janet's donations (for me at least) it was mainly because it was for planting a rainforest. I am all for donations, and we know Hannah is :).

Soli Deo Gloria

Ben Garrison said...

Well, it appears that I am offending some of your readers, so I guess that means that we can discuss this at some later point. =)

With respect to the fundamentalist comment, I forgot that other people would be reading my comments. I'm pretty sure that Susan knew that I didn't mean "all fundamentalists", since in most...erm...fundamental philosophical ways I would describe myself as a fundamentalist. =)

Ashley said...

I think it would be quite a challenge for you to trick-or-treat with a dozen kids in tow. ;-)

Susan said...

Yet another reason, Ashley, not to trick-or-treat :). Haha, makes for a funny picture anyway.

Jessie said...

Why didn't I think of that? I like the pin-the-95 theses-on-the-church-door idea!! : ) Maybe for next year's Reformation Day celebration... ; )
A few other ladies and I kept up with the children at our church Monday night. We just ended up doing a fall craft (glue the tissue paper leaves any where you want to on your paper tree... or the table... or the chair... or your sister's face... actually it wasn't that bad : ) ) And let them watch a short Mr. Fix-it video, read some cute stories, and let them play games. Basically we let them have a good time and play more than they can on the Lord's Day.
Let me clarify these are all children 6 and under.
Everyone else, and a few in the 6 and under age-range, stayed in the santuary and watched a video on the Scottish Covenanters. I wish I could tell you more about it, but I might have seen a total of 5 minutes! Never under estimate the power of little ones in large numbers.
Hopefully I'll get a chance to e-mail you tomorrow morning.
Till then!

Laura Ashley said...

Wow so many ideas!

My question is do you celebrate Thanksgiving Day or do you think it is neutral since all religions in America and Canada celebrate it?

Susan said...

Yes, Ash, I celebrate Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays (not accepting Easter and Christmas) that is not either a pagan holiday or a replacement for a pagan holiday. Thanksgiving is distinctly Christian, and was established by the Pilgrims - God-fearing men and women - as a special time to thank God for his blessings and provision.

Laura Ashley said...

Yes Thanksgiving as we know it today very much has Christian roots in the Americas, but pagan roots from Greece and Rome (a day to honor the goddess of grain and corn). Also many Native Americans celebrated their original version Thanksgiving before Europeans got here. The pilgrims weren't even the first recorded Europeans to celebrate Thanksgiving with the Natives. (The Spanish were in the 1540s in what is now Texas) I was wondering how far back you consider when deciding if something is a pagan "hoilday" or replacement for a pagan "holiday". It is true that the Pilgrims Thanksgiving is vastly different than the pagan one, but isn't our Halloween vastly different than the pagan one? Didn't we just take something that the native culture already had and mix it with some ideas from anicent Greece and Rome and call it Christian Thanksgiving?

Susan said...

Yes, there have been harvest festivals celebrated by various pagan groups throughout history, althought the Pilgrims did not use these as a reason for establishing Thanksgiving.

The Pilgrims had a rough start in the New World. They lost half of their colonists to starvation and sickness the first winter. After their first bountiful harvest they felt a great thanks to God for seeing them through the hard times, and they recognized his sovereignty and provision through it all. They set aside Thanksgiving Day as a time to honor their creator and provider, God. No pagan origins here.

Laura Ashley said...

" Pilgrims did not use these as a reason for establishing Thanksgiving"

Maybe not the reasons, but the first Thanksgiving by the Pilgrims has a lot in common with earlier Thanksgivings in pagan cultures. (it lasted 3 days, games were played, animal sacrifice...)Also Thanksgiving isn't uniquely Christian at all. Every single non-Christian I know celebrates it. I don't really see how it is too much different than Halloween.

I realize this isn't a debate post and I'm not anti-Thanksgiving, I'm just not against Halloween. The two hoildays have a lot in common.

zan said...

Wow a lot of posts on this one. ;)

I used to be a almost exactly like you concerning all holidays. I'm not anymore. I don't see giving out candy to kids dressd up with their parents as worshiping the devil. I also celebrate all the American holidays. Easter with Easster baskets, Christmas with tree and lots of presents, Thanksgiving with lots of food, Halloween with candy, 4rth of July with fireworks, Memorial Day with picnic etc... I also remember Reformation day. We always have a reformation service at church. I am not going to argue with you about holidays because I know what you believe and respect it.

I did want to say that you are dead right about the movies. I cannot believe how many Christians went to see Titanic. Why is it OK to see those kind of movies? It makes me so frustrated. I saw part of it on TV one year and could not beleive how stupid it was and UNromantic. You should see the one made in the 1940s. That was a good movie and it didn't have any naked people or profanity in it. It stars Barbara Stanwyke.

zan said...

Oh, I wanted to mention that I saw the movie that they made about Martin Luther. It was pretty close to biographies I have read about him. I thought it was interesting. It is simply called Luther. It was made last year, I think.


Susan said...

I know you think Halloween and Thanksgiving are fine and are just playing the devil's advocate, but thanks for clarifying. As far as animal sacrifices in Thanksgiving, slaughtering of animals for eating is not equivalent to animal sacrifice. The pilgrims did not sacrifice animals for Thanksgiving, nor has that ever been a part of the holiday.

Just as a clarification, I don't think "giving out candy to kids dressd up with their parents" is equivalent to worshipping the devil. There is a huge difference. I also like celebrating holidays, just not one that is so tied to pagan practices, goulish decorations, etc. I celebrate Christmas and Easter (and other holidays), but without Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. I am by no means trying to advocate not celebrating holidays, so sorry if I made it sound that way. Yes, I've seen Luther and thought it was pretty well done.

Quiverfull Acres said...

Well amen! (To this time to read all the comments :0) )

This is a refreshing place to come and visit. I like what you write.

~Also in Ga. Homeschooling moma to eight...

Susan said...

Quiverfull Acres,

Glad you stopped by and hope you continue to enjoy. How fun that you also are from GA! I dropped by your blog this morning and am looking forward to reading more as you and your family posts. God bless.

T. said...

I really feel I must comment on this even though the Halloween is over for this year. The celebration of "Halloween" as it is known now, is really a mix of different traditions, beliefs and cultures, from mostly Western Europe. It was not only New Year's Eve for many countries centuries ago, but a day to honor those who passed on. One of the biggest "aspects" of the celebration though harkens back to an agrarian-farming society that did appreciate the harvest as a community event and as survival. The witch in the article was pointing out that our ancestors and present day Wicca both recognize the turning of the seasons and the important harvest that allowed our ancestors (I'm of European decent as you are) to survive for another winter.

Before judging these survival rituals of all of our ancestors, please remember how close to the edge many of them lived; a harvest celebration was a community event that could bouy the spirits, feed the people and grow optimism for the following year. I highly doubt any of our ancestors would identify this celebration as pagan or spiritual. It is possible to appreciate the harvest and turning of a season as our ancestors did and not be practicing a pagan holiday. Many of the traditions of Christmas are completely mixed with pagan rituals our Western European ancestors practiced too. The Christmas tree, yule log the date of the holiday, gift giving, there are hundreds of examples.