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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Is Halloween Evil?

         Halloween is a source of controversy among many people.  Some discourage participation in the event or celebrate in ways that are alternative to the traditional way that most people celebrate. Others choose to essentially ignore Halloween not for any moral or religious reasons, but because there is something about the celebration they don't like or they just aren't interested. However, the majority of Americans accept the day for what it is and join in the festivities without really thinking too much about it. But if we do think about it just a bit, perhaps we should ask the question that incites the controversy: Is Halloween evil?
           The evilness of Halloween is another one of those topics about which one could write a book and indeed many have been written. In fact there are some Halloween aversionists who make a substantial portion of their income from writing about, speaking about, and creating media presentations about the Evilness of Halloween. Just as there exists a Halloween Economy there is conversely an Anti-Halloween Economy, albeit much smaller but there nonetheless.  In the following post I will not be going into a lot of detail, although if there is a cry of interest we may certainly expound upon some of the details in upcoming posts, but here I will attempt to present a case that Halloween is not evil.
           In order to clarify my case, I would like to start with the background of where I'm coming from.  I was raised in a Christian tradition, have beliefs that are rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethos, and I regularly attend a tradional Christian church. I consider myself religious and well educated. I am fairly open-minded, but always ready to apply what I believe to be appropriate discernment in my decisions, with this discernment  based on logic and  on my own beliefs.  I would be considered by the system of labelling to be in the classification of White Anglo Saxon Protestant Male.  I am rather conservative by nature and libertarian by ideology but not party affiliation.  I wll not be quoting any Bible verses to support my thesis except for leaving a verse at the end.      
           Also, for the sake of clarification, I want to indentify and define the terminology of the question:  Is Halloween evil?  Firstly, for the sake of my argument, my definition of evil is that which is done or thought for the purpose of harm or injury. Evil is intentional action, sin, or wrongdoing with the foreknowledge that another person or property will be damaged or destroyed and the execution of  one's actions are acceptable to the person performing the act. Evil thought is the intent and planning to carry out the evil action even if the action is never actually carried out--the mere desire to do the harm is evil. 
           The name Halloween is a contracted form of a religious observance known as All Hallows Eve which precedes a day that honors the saints of the church.  The modern celebration of Halloween has assimilated some pre-Christian traditions that came from very superstitious times. Mostly attributed to Celtic practice, some of these pagan related traditions became part of the Christian festivities and were later introduced to the United States by Irish immigrants.  The modern observance of Halloween is a secular celebration which most people do not directly relate to any religious celebration whether it be pagan, Christian, or any other.
            Finally, not to sound like Bill Clinton or anything, but we need to define what is is.  For the sake of my argument we are going to use is as an absolute.  I do not want to get into inferrences, suggestions, or relationships.  To say that something is means definitely, absolutely, without question can be defined as such. When dealing in value judgements it is often difficult to use absolutes when there may be some mitigating factors that may injected into the scenario.  So in our case we might have to change the question at hand to one of the following statements: Halloween could be used for evil purposes sometimes or Halloween might have some connotations of evil.
            Since my definition of evil does not include anything that is related to the occult or satan, then this would exclude arguing that since Halloween does often include imagery related to occultism or satan then Halloween is evil.  If one wants to say that Halloween is evil because it has relationships to satan then I might argue that every day is then evil because satan or things that are related to evil are a constant factor in our lives every day. What about other days related to other Holy occasions?  Mardi Gras for example is a time of bachanalia and excess that can be related to sin, evil, and crime, but in and of itself is the day evil?  I would say no-- some of the actions of some the participants might be evil, but overall the day is one of fun and celebration.  I've heard that Santa Claus is an anagram of Satan.  Is Christmas really evil, or have some imaginative persons  derived a perceived interpretation of evil from the Christmas symbolism?  There are probably a number of evils that can be associated with Christmas, but they are evils that one can associate with any day of the year.  Holidays might be time when evil becomes more prevalent, but only because holidays are exaggerated days were people have more opportunity for revelry, stress, depression, or what have you.  And since many holidays are religious by nature does that mean religion is evil? There are certainly some that would say so.  I don't think so.  I just think that there is a temptation for all humans to do evil.
           The propensity for human beings to do evil is the bottom line of the argument.  Values, ethics, enlightenment, self-discipline, and all of the other qualities that human beings learn to help them control the propensity for sin and evil must be learned and reinforced from childhood until the day we die. To participate in an event like Halloween does not cause one to become evil. However if one is not spiritually and mentally armed to counterattack any evil influences that may be related to the day then one may succumb to the temptations of evildoing. "Teach your children well', says the Graham Nash song and this is what we should do.  Let them particpate in the fun, but keep them firmly ensconced in good values so they can make good choices. Also, look for more positive alternatives, such as Harvest Festivals at churches, or start your own traditions geared toward positive things.
              So am I saying Halloween is good?  Well as I noted in some previous posts, Halloween is good for the economy.  This is not to say that everything that might be good for the economy should be encouraged, but something that has deep seated roots in tradition and culture like Halloween probably is not all that bad if kept in perspective.  I celebrated Halloween throughout my childhood and I don't think I'm any the worse for it other than some cavities and I don't really blame those on Halloween.  If there is some bad in Halloween, as there is in every day, then do what it takes to bring some good out of it.

             You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives".    (Gen. 50:20)

     In other words, "Something that might have been intended to be used for bad purposes,  God can turn around and use it for good in my life and in your lives and in the lives of many other people."

             I would really like to hear what some of the readers think about this topic.  I tossed it out to you, now you toss it back.

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