So this month's Synchroblog is on Halloween, or more precisely about people sharing their thoughts, their experiences, and their expertise on the subject of "A Christian Response to Halloween" (or at least something remotely connected to that idea.) When I first heard about it I was excited to take the time to do research and pull together my ideas on reclaiming the roots of Halloween for Christians as a continuation of my post
last month. But honestly I hit a wall. Nothing inspired me. Nothing grabbed my attention. The only thing I kept coming back to was a scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
. In this scene Voldemort has arrived in Godric's Hollow with the intention of murdering Harry. It is Halloween and he passes houses decorated for the evening and children masquerading as pumpkins. Voldemort refers to such things as "all the tawdry Muggle trappings of a world in which they did not believe."
At Halloween our modern cultural rituals are a dim reflection of the historical practice of connecting with and honoring those who have come before. We lost the true meaning, but keep the trappings in hopes that we can connect in some way to something bigger than ourselves. We bring out the ghosts, jack-o-lanterns, and black cats not understanding what they mean, but longing nonetheless to grasp hold of a fleeting glimpse of the mysterious. We watch horror movies in hopes that fear, as raw and intense of an emotion as it is, will at least make us feel something beyond ourselves. But these things still remain trappings of a world in which we don't fully believe.
Trappings of a world in which we do not believe. To what extent does that statement reflect the entire edifice of this thing we call Christianity? How much of our faith experience involves decorating our lives with symbols of that which we think might be fun if it were real but which is obviously not real enough to make a difference in our lives? Are all the trappings of church just forgotten symbols of a deeper reality? Do we desperately seek the next worship high in order to convince ourselves that we actually do feel something?
I don't have the answers, but there are times when I take a look at what we do at church and wonder why the hell are we doing these things. I'm sure those rituals held some real meaning for some people once upon a time, but I just don't get it now. It seems like the rituals, the trappings of faith, have become the only cultural artifact of faith. Much like plastic pumpkins and ghoulish blow-up lawn ornaments have replaced the historical roots of Halloween which are now only an echo, has this production we call church replaced the life Jesus called us to live? Is what we are doing at church just a hollow cultural echo of what we were meant to be?
Halloween and Christianity are safe because they are no longer connected to their roots. We can play around with them and only occasionally be reminded of the bigger mystery they represent. I do not fear Halloween because I only see a hollow artifice without roots (not that I fear those roots, but that's another story). But I do fear Christianity when it is a hollow artifice. Trapping of a world in which we do not believe can be dangerous. Ignoring the wild and deep power of God as we engage in rituals of worship doesn't sit well with me. I think we need to start lifting the veil and start believing again.
If you want to read other more coherent contributions to this Synchroblog (that maybe actually address the topic...) check out -
The Christians and the Pagans Meet for Samhain at Phil Wyman's Square No More
Our Own Private Zombie: Death and the Spirit of Fear by Lainie Petersen
Julie Clawson at One Hand Clapping
John Morehead at John Morehead's Musings
Vampire Protection by Sonja Andrews
What's So Bad About Halloween? at Igneous Quill
H-A-double-L-O-double-U-double-E-N Erin Word
Halloween....why all the madness? by Reba Baskett
Steve Hayes at Notes from the Underground
KW Leslie at The Evening of Kent
Hallmark Halloween by John Smulo
Mike Bursell at Mike's Musings
Sam Norton at Elizaphanian
Removing Christendom from Halloween at On Earth as in Heaven
Vampires or Leeches: A conversation about making the Day of the Dead
meaningful by David Fisher
Encountering hallow-tide creatively by Sally Coleman
Kay at Chaotic Spirit
Apples and Razorblades at Johnny Beloved
Steve Hayes at Notes from the Underground
Fall Festivals and Scary Masks at The Assembling of the Church
Why Christians don't like Zombies at Hollow Again
Peering through the negatives of mission Paul Walker
Sea Raven at Gaia Rising
Halloween: My experiences by Lew A
Timothy Victor at Tim Victor's Musings
Making Space for Halloween by Nic Paton
Labels: Church, Synchroblog