Will is dressing up as a ghost for Halloween. I was shocked. He has his Indiana Jones costume that he wears everywhere. I thought at least he would choose the Storm Trooper costume. I have given up on him being a superhero (Batman, Vigilante, Green Lantern, or any other DC character). Sigh… but a Ghost? Where did that come from?

My Fundamentalist right pinky toe started to speak.

Toe: “You know what is going to happen if he dresses up as a Ghost.”

Me: “No, what?”

Toe: “Satan.”

Me: “Say what?”

Toe: “Satan will have a foothold. You and your family will have compromised to evil.”

Me: “How so. I don’t get it?”

Toe: “Ghosts are demons. Or at least they are demonic. Therefore, your son is taking his first step toward practicing demonology. It is a form of Satan worship.”

Me: “Say what?”

Toe: “Exactly, you have already compromised and you don’t recognize it. Next thing you know, Katelynn and Kylee will be dressing up as witches.”

Me: “To what end?”

Toe: “What?”

Me: “To what end? So what? Who cares?”

Toe: “I want a new master. You can just go watch Harry Potter for all I care.”

Yes, then there is  that. Christians on Halloween. Scared to celebrate. Some with more than their pinky toe doing the talking. You know the ones. They are the only ones in the neighborhood who have their lights turned off. “Oh, here come the kids. They are going to come to our door. If we open it, we will have compromised and, in effect, told them that Satan is my friend, that Satan is my pal. Turn off the lights and HIDE! It is the only Christian thing to do.

Ahem…please. Help us.

I can’t believe I am going to say this but, WWJD? Really, what would Jesus do? Can you see it? Jesus with his lights turned off on Halloween? That would be the Jesus history never knew. That would be the Jesus of western fundamentalism. The one who is not a friend of sinners and tax gatherers. The Jesus that was never accused of being a drunkard. The Jesus who looked from a distance at the wedding of Cana waiting for the sinners to wipe the dust off their feet before he talked to them. The Jesus who saw a child dressed up as a Ghost and said, “I can’t take this anymore. It is not worth it. Give me that stone so that I can turn it into bread.”

Mark Young, my friend and former missions prof at DTS (now the president of Denver Seminary), used to talk about this in his missions 101 class. Oh the shame of all of us students who turned off the light. We left the class crying looking for little witches and ghosts to hug. His thesis: Christians are not Christians on Halloween. Not because they have compromised and participated, but precisely because they don’t participate. The one day of the year where children (“Permit them to come to me…” Mark 10:14) were attempting to come to us and we shut the door and turn off the lights. We left the class in tears and began to plan what we were going to be for Halloween.

Toe (yes, I’m back): “But…but…but…It is not about the lights being on. Its not about giving out candy. Its about participating in the evil deeds of darkness. Don’t you know the roots of Halloween?”

Give me a break. Who have you been reading? Whoever it is, stop. First of all, how many kids do you know that are into witchcraft, Satan worship, or necromancy? What happened? Your eight-year-old was walking down the street in her witch costume and thought to herself: “I suddenly feel myself tempted to say a chant and worship Satan”?

Toe: No, it happens subtly. You know, like with Harry Potter.”

Yeah, that is right. In twenty-first century America, I can see how much satanism has grown because of Harry Potter and Halloween. Witchcraft is the primary thing that young kids are having to recover from. Its not sexual promiscuity, its not our greed or materialism, its not moms and dads who can’t demonstrate commitment and love, its not a compromise of the Gospel. Its witchcraft. Its our kids becoming ghosts on Halloween.

Sorry. Will is going to be a ghost. You can turn off your lights.

(Oh, and one more thing. Don’t just give out tracts…Shame, shame. Give out the best candy in the neighborhood. Let people know that you are the house that is not cheap.)

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    138 replies to "Jesus with His Lights Turned off on Halloween"

    • #John1453

      When I was growing up, we had halloween parties IN OUR CHURCH. My parents helped dress us up and my Sunday school teachers presided. Then, sometime between the time I left childhood (well actually when I got too big to pass myself off as elementary school age on Halloween) and when I got my own kids, some wacko branch of evangelicalism took over.

      Now even my mother has sent me a little book on the evils of halloween and warned me that nothing makes the “other team” happier than all those kids going door to door collecting O’Henry bars and bags of chips. Even my brother’s wife got my bro to cave in and ban halloween! (homeschooler, go figure). What! have we all become JWs?

      What?!! Did my treat or treating send me down the long dark slide to seances and ouiji board use? Am I now mistakenly taking my children to the local Church of Satan rather than the nondenominational evangelical Christian church (maybe that’s the problem right there: “nondenominational”. Independence is the first step to rebellion against God, and a sure sign of Luciferian influence).

      Since when did evangelicals decide that their own harmless and fun Halloween experiences were a fluke, and that dressing up inevitably leads to cross-dressing and satanic rituals and sacrifices behind the school gym after 3:30? If I had a nickel for every demon that invaded my house because of my jack-o-lanterns on the front porch I’d be rich.

      And what’s with all the new evangelical halloween experts? That alone is reason to pull the plug on the internet and google. Old wives’ tales on the internet, who says culture can’t keep up with technology.

      Since when did our lives become chapters in a Frank Peretti novel? Do people actually think that stuff is true? That Bob Larson was an authority? It really bothers me that evangelicals have turned an evening of fun into a salvation risk. It’s so true, I’m currently a backslidden Christian satanist because I dressed up as Spiderman when I was 10. The next day I was drawing pentagrams with melted chocolate and divining the future by throwing packets of “Rockets” candy on the floor.

      I just want my kids (and my nephews and nieces) to dress up in cute outfits, trick or treat with their friends, and meet their neighbours without having my pastor and elders come to my house for an exorcism and cleansing.

      And please, stop with the “alternate parties”. How lame. Ranks right up their with New Years Eve watchnight services. Not only would I be embarrassed to go (and properly so), but it constitutes the sort of cruelty to children that rates having them taken away by the local Child and Family Services.

      Evangelicals ruined something good, and everyone knows it but them.

      #John (a.k.a. Satan’s tool for taking kids out of the “Kingdom” and into the night).

    • Steve Moore

      Does that mean I can re-attach my pinky toe now? ;^)

    • Cadis

      I always thought ghost costumes had more to do with procrastination then a preoccupation with the supernatural or occults. I’d be more worried about laziness, lackadaisical attitude and poor creativity skills.
      A sheet with two holes? Casper? or are you going to totally white him out somehow? At least the third option has some possibilities (thinking of the Scrooge ghosts in the movie from the 40’s) I’m seeing some vasolene and baby powder is this kids near future.

      Halloween’s history and origins are long forgotten. Halloween today= Kids, Costumes and Candy..what could be more fun and family then that.

      If your toe offends you…..put a sock on it.

    • Cadis

      HaHa John1453,

      I’m glad someone else recognized it was the wacko evangelicals that ruined halloween and not the fundamentalists. It’s not always the fundamentalists that ruin the party!

    • #John1453

      I must have lived in a pagan neighbourhood growing up. Not only did no one ever do such a dastardly deed to me as giving out tracts; I never even heard of such a thing. Sheesh, my neighbourhood was so naive growing up that I remember getting apples. Hold it!!!! That’s a satanic activity right there. Wow, it only took me 44 years but I finally get it. Satan had such a hold on my neighbourhood that its residents were giving out, and tempting me with, the forbidden fruit. AND I TOOK IT AND ATE IT.

      I’ll ponder the theological and end times implications for my soul another time. Right now I have to go find a Catholic friend to see if penance can help my dire situation. Or dig up an old Bob Larson book; I’m sure I must have one somewhere (doesn’t everyone over 40?).


    • C Michael Patton

      John, that was classic. Needs to be a post itself! If you have a nickle… great stuff.

      However, an Evangelical by definition, at least in theory, does not have any hangups about halloween. If they do, then they are not longer evangelical, but fundie.

      Either way, great stuff.

    • #John1453

      Yours was very good, too (especially the sign–it’s a good thing I’m wearing dark pants today because I think I wet myself laughing). Also good were Cadis’ thoughtful tips on how to help your son dress up as a ghost. (Notice how “ghost” has a silent “h”, a letter that is there but not there? Coincidental? I think not. I’m not trying to be alarmist, I’m just sayin’ . . .)

    • cherylu

      Sorry guys, but I am going to have to beg to differ with you on this one, at least somewhat. Now I am not saying that Christians should necessarily stay inside with the lights off on Halloween! That is not my point.

      However, since Halloween did come from occultic origins and since much of the celebration even today centers on the occult–withches, ghosts, etc., it seems to me that there is reason for concern for Christians. After all, God made it very clear that the occult was something that was an abomination in His sight. So why do we today think it is ok for us to even pretend to be these things? Seems to me it just doesn’t make sense at all from a Scriptual standpoint.

    • mbaker

      I really don’t have any feelings about halloween one way or another, except to the extent it teaches kids to disregard superstition, by having them dress up in scary costumes. If you can do that, and see that you and others are not going to be zapped, you can learn to control your fears about things like ghosts and witches.

      I remember when I was growing up if a black cat crossed your path, or you broke a mirror, it was automatically bad luck for 7 years. My Baptist grandma firmly believed in some of those old wives tales, but even devout Christians like her, back in those days didn’t freak out about Halloween. In fact they spent days preparing treats, instead of buying them.

      This present trend must be our split personalities coming from the emerging church. Or, if there is such a thing, (at least according to our evolutionist Christian peers) there’s a possibility that we could see a fundie post modernist movement evolving from the halloween controversy. Wouldn’t that make an interesting costume?

    • #John1453

      A 10 year old in a spiderman costume and a 4 year old dressed up as a dog is occult? Well I suppose the former is an impermissable mix of organisms, kinda like mixing flax and wool, and the latter could be seen as beastiality, both satanic. To be consistent, I think that we should get rid of Valentines (a debased saint worship), Christmas (pagan festival, not to mention the pagan tree worship), President’s day (idolatry), St. Patrick’s Day (papist, and so an obvious nod to the Babylon of revelation), Easter (pagan, overtly sexual, rabbits demonically laying eggs, fertility festival), birthdays (again, idolatrous), goat farming (just Satan with a camel’s nose poking his nose into the tent of our agricultural activities. Next thing you know we’ll be accepting of goats, then we’ll become dependent on their flesh and milk, then we’ll be putting goats’ heads over our hearths, then sacrificing goats and then, finally, sacrificing our children on our hearths below the goats head (a universal symbol of devil worship from ancient times)).

      I’m just warming up. Next I’ll go after plays, movies, card playing, make-up, dancing, paper money, musical instruments, jewellry, perms for women (and pants), using electricity (I got mennonites in my background), microscopes and telescopes, heliocentrism, a round earth, local floods, oath swearing in court, cream sauces on lamb, nonleather shoes, buttons, zippers, coloured scarves, . . . . [sorry, ran out of breath]


    • #John1453

      and socks.

    • cherylu

      Uh, # John, notice I said much of the celebration today focuses on the occult. Witches, ghosts, goblins, haunted houses, etc. Do we really think those things are pleasing to the Lord? I’m sorry, but I just can’t see that they are when He has had so much to say on the subject.

      And please, I have never known you to be quite so sarcastic and mocking of other Christian’s beliefs before. You may not agree, but do you have to make those that disagree with you out to be total nincompoops?

    • mbaker

      I’m of the same mind with CMP that alternative parties for Christian children at churches is somewhat of an hypocrisy, especially if it is the day itself that is considered occultic.

      Reminds me of an preacher I had when I lived in Ohio briefly many years ago, when the internet first came out. Because the www that we use as a prefix before some websites stands for world wide web, this man claimed that the net was the mark of the beast and anyone who participated in it was receiving it.

      Now guess who has a website for his church?

    • #John1453

      While we’re at it, we gotta get rid of Christmas lights (related to the midwinter festivals welcoming and praying for the return of the sun, and a ritual used to invoke its return) and weekends. Everyone knows how people just look forward to weekends as an excuse to party, get drunk and have sex (outside of marriage, of course).

      Nincompoops? No, just reductio ad absurdum of the current evangelical cultural paranoia about halloween.

    • Jake Blues

      Maybe it depends on where you’re located; in my region, the decorations in people’s front yards range from bloodied skeletons hanging from trees to corpses climbing out of graves, and all manner of gruesome things in between. These are not “good, clean fun”, they are macabre and creepy, and they really bother the heck out of my kids, to the point where, whenever they see anything Halloween-related as we’re driving down the street, one of them will warn the other not to look at it. They do this completely on their own, with no conditioning from us whatsoever. They just intuitively know that this isn’t happy, fun stuff. My objection to Halloween, and the reason my kids don’t participate, is not out of concern that donning a costume will lead to Satanism — it’s that Halloween involves a lot of disturbing imagery and subjects that do not belong in children’s heads. I can’t ask my children not to be bothered by things that legitimately bother them, and I won’t ask them to endure things that disturb them simply in the name of having fun; there are plenty of other ways that fun can be had.

      I think that questions about how to be in the world but not of the world are genuinely challenging when it comes to holidays like Halloween, Christmas, and Easter, and I think the condescending tone of the original post and some of the follow ups don’t really engage the difficulty of those questions in a productive way. Christmas and Easter are tough, since popular culture has completely co-opted them and turned them on their heads, but at least they retain their Christian heritage for us to point to. But I don’t see the obligation for a Christian to celebrate a cultural holiday like Halloween. No one complains that we don’t celebrate, for example, Purim, which has a similarly celebratory and “fun” observance and has the additional benefit of commemorating an actual Biblical event. I don’t see a need for ire to be directed at the Halloween-abstainers. Although I did think the conversation with the toe was pretty funny.

    • Ronnica

      Giving out tracts instead of candy is like leaving one for a tip. The action speaks louder than the words!

      I’m not a fan of Halloween, in part because of the God-dishonoring aspects and in part because of personal preference. I begrudgingly participate anyway, helping out at our church’s Halloween alternative. I think it’s a great opportunity to show our love for our neighbors as they willingly come to us.

    • Jerry

      We WANT people to come to our door. So much that I light up our driveway with a halogen worklight so that people can safely make it to our door. Yes, there will be tracts distributed, but these will accompany good treats and other little goodies that my wife has ordered.

      How many times a year do the neighbors come knocking on our doors?

    • #John1453

      Christmas and Easter were co-opts (coopts? cooptings? cooptions?) of pagan festivals. So the original heritage was pagan. Rather than retreat, perhaps it is better to “take back” from the festivals from the modern corruptions of them by avoiding the gruesome and focussing on fun, on non-gruesome costumes, on the treats, etc.

      Adults layer on all kinds of meanings and problems onto things like halloween that just don’t exist for kids. Kids like to have fun, dress-up, scare each other, eat candy, be up late, etc. Isn’t that all we need to do to adequately participate in a cultural halloween?

    • Cadis

      “However, an Evangelical by definition, at least in theory, does not have any hangups about halloween. If they do, then they are not longer evangelical, but fundie.”

      How do you figure this? ?? what? You can identify an evangelical or a fundamentalist by their Halloween practices? I did not know this 🙂 Why do you always shove the legalists onto the fundies as if there are no legalistic or moralistic evangelicals. I’m not saying that steering away from Halloween equates to legalism or that there is no good reason to refrain from Halloween, but making it a standard or a law involving an entire church, even by way of peer pressure does equate to legalism and has little to do with Fundamentalism.

    • #John1453

      OK, if a tract comes with candy, I can handle it. As long as it’s not one of those gruesome “Chick” tracts that I grew up reading (if anything pushed me away from Jesus, that might have been it).

      I’m with Cadis on halloween and evangelicals. I don’t think fundies ever went in for Larson and the casting out of demons. I don’t think fundies even read the verses about demons. Fundies carve some of the best pumpkins. It was evangelicals that went hole hog for the satanism stuff, and used their dough (they’re usually richer than fundies, kinda like the economic presbyterian / catholic divide of days gone by) and cultural influence to make it a big issue and thereby brought the attention of the unsaved onto their wackiness.

      However, I do think there is a masters or PhD thesis in there somewhere, as regards identifying christian subcultures by their Halloween practices. Hmmm, I may go back to school . . ..

    • Toll04

      I totally agree with Jake Blues, well said…. I also thought the toe conversation was classic Michael 🙂

    • Dr_Mike

      The “rightness” or “wrongness” is not the paramount issue here; the important issue is that of each person’s conscience. If one person feels free to eat meat sacrificed to idols, let them eat; if another does not feel free, let them not eat.

      Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Halloween and kids dressed up as little devils. But I’ll stop short of castigating or ridiculing – or in any way trying to pressure – others to do what their conscience does not allow. That is causing another to stumble.

      We’re free to indulge or not indulge and don’t need others looking down on us. People that don’t indulge can pray for those of us who do; those who do indulge can pray for those who don’t.

    • Jake Blues


      If you are somehow able to make all of my neighbors take down their gruesome decorations, you might have a point, but absent that, there is no possible way I would take my kids out to trick-or-treat. I’m not inventing problems for my kids that don’t exist — they are bothered by disturbing, gruesome images that have become part and parcel of our culture’s Halloween celebration. I would go so far as to say that theirs is the proper reaction.

      I think that if you view “abstention” and “retreat” as synonymous, there’s probably little hope that you can be persuaded to see the other side’s viewpoint, but I would simply request that you, Michael, and others not allege fuddy-duddiness of those who have objections to non-Christian cultural practices like Halloween.

      As to your suggestion to focus on fun, non-gruesome costumes, treats, etc: I don’t understand your objection to the notion of a church holding a Halloween alternative, particularly if non-believers are welcomed. A local church here has held a huge annual event with games, pizza, costumes, and a time of worship music and presentation of the gospel message. Our kids have gone to that for the last couple of years — it seems like an acceptable way to let them have fun (and thus not feel that their parents are squares forcing them to miss out on all the fun) yet to avoid the negative aspects.

    • #John1453

      Points made and taken regarding the meat for idols principle. However, what others and I were getting at is the component of evangelicalism that deserves to be mocked because of its unbiblical paranoia of, fascination with, incorrect theology of, satan and halloween and the lack of principled basis and actions regarding halloween rejection (avoiding halloween bedcause of its so-called pagan origins does not, in my books, count as a principled rejection).

      Jake Blues has an approach to halloween that is based on his kids sensitivities and not simply halloween avoidance, and in which case a separate party for his kids makes sense.

      My kids, on the other hand, from the time they were 3 and 4 wanted me to walk them around the neighbourhood pre-halloween so that they could see the displays. They walk past some amazing ones on the way to school everyday. Since most kids can’t avoid the displays in their neighbourhoods on a daily basis prior to halloween, it makes little sense to avoid them on halloween. Just walk past them, have fun, dress up, get candy and don’t go to the scary houses. Or go to them if its fun.

    • C Michael Patton

      Cadis: Let me enlighten you to the distinctions between a fundie and evangelical:

      How do you tell the difference between an evangelical and a fundamentalist? Ask if they like Billy Graham. (This is a classic one as Fundamentalists do not).

      How do you tell the difference between an evangelical and a fundamentalist? Ask if a Roman Catholic can be saved: Fundamentalists=all Catholics will burn in Hell. Evangelical=yes, they can be saved.

      Finally, How do you tell the difference between an evangelical and a fundamentalist? Ask if they celebrate Halloween. You know where this one is going.

    • #John1453

      CMP, we need a blog thread devoted entirely and only to jokes about evangelicals, etc.

      Q: How many neo-evangelicals does it take to change a light bulb?

      A: No one knows. They can’t tell the difference between light and darkness.

      Here’s one on emergents:

      Q: What’s the difference between a mouse and a man in an emergent church?

      A: The mouse has hair on its chest.

      And homeschooling fundies:

      Q: What’s the difference between a fundie’s daughter in the kitchen and a fundie’s kitchen garbage?

      A: The fundie’s kitchen garbage goes out once a week.

      Q: what’s the difference between a fundie scholar and a conservatiive evangelical one?

      A: The evangelical knows how to properly footnote his Moody Monthlies.

    • Barry Buchanan

      I like this discussion. It’s funny how I was planing on doing a cartoon for this week based on this discussion. I’m actually proud of the above commentors as there reasonable discusion on thier disagreements and while it could have gotten heated it didn’t. I guess there is some maturity on the site. From a personal stand point I only remain confused on all these labels we Christains use and it seems we must stand in these tight little roles based on doctrine. I try and avoid these labels muchliek I do in politics. In my politics it depends on the specific situation and not based on some narrow system I’m trying to fit in to.

    • #John1453

      As for halloween costumes, I must ‘fess up. I think CMP is a liberal, or at least a wannabe episcopalian. He allows ghost costumes, whereas in my household such costumes are “verboten” (as I said, I got menno’s in my background. In fact, I got sent to German school on Saturdays when other kids got to watch evil cartoons. If it weren’t for the fact that my father was unsaved I wouldn’t know who John Wayne is. but I digress.), as are ghouls, vampires, witches, werewolves, etc., you get the picture. Yes, my childhood was deprived of those things so I visit my bitter disappointment on my children. I could, I suppose, live vicariously through them by allowing them to wear a ghost costume, but then I would be treating them as a means rather than an end in themselves—quite immoral.

      One year we let our kindergartner hang his tissue paper ghost that he made in class in the front yard tree. We made up for that by laying hands on him before he went to sleep and then getting up a half hour earlier the next day for quiet time.

      The only decorations we allow are spiderwebs, spiders, and bats (all created by God and pronounced “good”). No bones (though truth be told, my uncle and grandfather for years kept a milk pail full of human bones that they dug up when extending their cellar beneath their dirt floor. My Uncle used to try to scare the bejabbers out of me in the evening by sticking an arm bone through the railing on the second floor landing. But again, I digress). and no blood, witches, zombies or tombstones (the later would be okay, because they’re churchy, but we can’t justify spending the money to buy one. (Maybe one year we’ll make cardboard ones, because my Scot and Mennonite blood cannot abide spending money when we can make a tacky version ourselves. But once again, I digress).

      CMP, I thought that this was a truly conservative website, but now that you’ve admitted to ghost costumes, I’ll have to reconsider. I’ll still pray for your soul, though, especially now that you’ve abandoned your complementarian responsibility to shelter your household from demons.

      As I write this, I’m starting to feel like I should be taking that fundie test. You know the one: “you might be a fundie if . . . “

    • Renton

      Actually, there is a functional relation between many “pagan” celebrations, like Halloween, with Jewish and other religious festivals. They were originally, HARVEST festivals. The Jewish “Festival of Booths” is the holiest day in Ancient Judaism; it just ended for example. And it was also a harvest fest. As are many holy days, this time of year.

      It’s also the root of a lot of spirituality. In harvest festivals, the general principle or idea, was to consume the massive harvest surplus. But more than that, share the harvest with others. Especially poor people. To help them stock up for the deadly winter, when not much food would grow.

      In Christianity today, we have forgotten our roots. We speak vaguely of being Christian, and “giving,” and it all seems so abstract. But it was all extremely concrete, and real, in ancient subsistence economies. Where poor people depended on such distributions to survive the winter.

      Other festivals are surprisingly related. Even Christmas – which to be sure, which is not a harvest fest – did have to do with re-distributing, “giving” food to the poor, in the most critical moment: in mid-to-late winter, when food was in very short supply.

      So in a way, even the “pagan” festival of Halloween, relates to ancient Jewish, “religious” festivals. And helps explain their meaning, in a very concrete way.

      Remotely, these holidays ALMOST continue the ancient functions: lots of ordinary kids probably still rely on the shopping bag full of candy, as their entire supply of candy for the winter.

    • Dr_Mike


      Your list and litmus tests for who is and who is not a fundamentalist sounds like it was written by a fundamentalist.

      It’s all about Us and Them. Not We.

    • C Michael Patton

      Yeah Mike, that is why it works. It WAS written by a fundamentalist!

    • #John1453

      Excellent point Renton, I love the fact that I can get in touch with my Jewish roots by ridding myself of my excess harvest of sugar through sharing it with the poor kids in my neighbhourhood. I’ll also throw some in the bushes to foster gleaning. But like student loan applications, the kids will have to show their parent’s last income tax receipt so that I can tell if they are truly poor, or just conning me. (I’m not mocking you, Renton, just riffing on the topics you brought up).

      Anyone else have kids like mine? You know, one hoovers up his entire bag(s) of candy before 1 a.m., regardless of how high he raises his barf quotient factor, and the other one misers it out so that it lasts past Christmas, whereupon he supplements his hoard and gets it to last to Easter, with the occasional one lying in a forgotten corner of his dresser until mid-summer.

    • Cadis

      Ha Ha man John! your on a roll today 🙂 funny stuff.

    • Cadis

      I’m dressing up like a fundamentalist for Halloween. Just to fool with Michael’s head. 🙂

    • #John1453

      Hmm, I feel convicted about an accidental lie. My grandfather did not have a dirt floor in his second house, the one with the cellar. I meant that the cellar was simply a hole dug in the dirt. Did a good job of storing the potatoes (Which my mother insisted in growing in the suburbs after marrying a non-mennonite city slicker, even though I pointed out that one could buy them in a store for cheaper than they sold bags of garden dirt. Yes, I’m digressing again but the whole cellar-potatoe-storage-thing brought up horrid memories of picking potatoe bugs after school).

      My grandfather’s first house, where some of my aunts were born, had the dirt floor. It was a great summer playhouse, with lots of sharp things that were verboten in the City. And consequently I got the real life stories of walking backwards uphill both ways and through snow banks all year round to school stories. My mom and her siblings had to carry their (one) pair of shoes to school so as not to wear them out, and lard sandwiches were standard fare (and yes, for the curious, I have participated in my share of farm pig butcherings. That kind of blood is OK, but the halloween blood is not–did you hear that, CMP, you liberal ghost permitting and thus quasi post evangelical that you have now revealed yourself to be).

      Further true story. My mom had a pet goat growing up. One day she came home from school and it was missing. Two weeks later they found out that the poor family two farms over caught it, butchered it and ate it. Back then there was no counselling for that sort of thing and the emotional wreckage it caused has continued to be visited upon the second, and yea even unto the third, generation. It’s no wonder, with a screwed up childhood like that, that I became a lawyer. Hmmm, I better rethink that ghost costume issue, I don’t want my kids growing up to be lawyers.

    • #John1453

      Cadis, for your fundie costume, make sure you wear your most starched and stiffest underwear. You don’t want any extra and unnecessary flexibility.

    • C Michael Patton

      Kim (Cadis),

      Whoa. Head spinning. Is that like the question, “Can God make a rock so big he cannot pick it up?”

      Its either self-absurd or a paradox. Either way, brain short circuited upon reading.

    • #John1453

      Cadis, if you need any Chick tracts to complete your costume, I can fed ex you some.

      But just promise you won’t go to C. Michael’s house for treats. I know he pledges that he’s got the best candy on the street, but we can’t afford to have him laid up with a stroke after he sees you–where would we go to post and blog? We’d be cast out and forced to blog among swine and quasi-intellectuals.

    • Alicia

      Seems to me that everyone should do what they are led to do without having to hear condescending responses. I will go with my sister to take my neice trick or treating and feel okay about that but I also agree with Jake in visual imagery being so powerful. That is why I stay away from many movies, not because I’m a legalist, but because when I see certain things I truly wrestle so much internally and it just isn’t good for me. Doesn’t allow for the transformation I’m after. Romans 12:2.

    • #John1453

      C. Michael, as part of your halloween post, can you put up the picture with half your eye brow missing? Do it in close up if you can, maybe a self portrait using your arm stuck out to hold the camera. To be seasonal you could have a scary frown. Sheesh, and I thought I was cheap by getting my wife to cut my hair (actually, only when she was my fiancée, once she was my wife . . . .). But the 1/2 eyebrow, please, you know it’s killing us who follow your tweets.

    • C Michael Patton

      lolll. It is actually almost grown out to the point where you cannot tell.

    • #John1453

      C. Michael. When you do your blogging on dispensationalism, can you include a blog on that late 1970s comic with the Christian young people on the cover that are being raptured? You know the one, they are wearing flared disco pants and there is a psychodelic swirl of colour following their ascencion from earth. I know that it’s acceptable to discuss such worldly things as comics here, because you’ve admitted more than once (including in this thread’s lede) that you like DC superheros. In my sheltered childhood we were not allowed worldly comics until the Christian versions came out. And only because Jack Chick paved the way with cartoon tracts. You obviously had a much more worldly upbringing. And more fun. Woah. Christians have fun too. We sing hymns at our alternative to the culture substitute parties. Nothing beats a good hymn after bobbing for apples. Our Jesus is not just against drinking, he’s against culture too. (ever notice how the Greek word for wine, “oinos”, is like a pig’s oink? Coincidence? I think not.)

    • Lindsey


      That was absolutely great! Thanks for adding to Michael’s already wonderful perspective.

      Unfortunately, however, Michael’s eyebrow doesn’t look nearly as bad. Otherwise I was going to suggest he go as Vanilla Ice.

      By the way, I am Michael’s sister.

    • Steven Long

      Okay, I’m probably going to open a HUGE can of worms and receive a sever tongue lashing (as well as enticement by my toe) from this comment but I feel strongly about this subject; not that I look down on those who let their children dress up and go trick-or-treating, because we went when we were kids. My family does not choose not to participate in Halloween simply because we think it is wrong but we do not participate because we do not feel it is Christ-honoring. And I disagree with you severely on the fact of WWJD.

      But I will say this: Some kids are extremely prone to spiritual activity–I was. And it was something that I was willing to explore at a deeper level.

      I remember being very young and so fascinated by the supernatural. It eventually led to other things of which I will not discuss. I would simply like to give this warning: once it gets hold of you it is hard to let go. Only by God’s grace was I set free in my mid-twenties and even after, there was several years of consequences to those actions.

      So Michael, while I am certainly not trying to push my own convictions upon you and your family I would certainly caution that you at least watch and see how obsessed he may become by these things.

      I hope you don’t take offense to this but again it is something I feel strongly about. Thanks, and God bless.

    • #John1453

      Vanilla Ice! Awesome! (also, I’m glad to know someone else besides me has deep cultural knowledge that predates the previous decade. CMP’s blog has a mature readership, so I’m sure that I’m not the only one that will catch the significance of the name). I know C. Michael can break like nobody’s business, but can he rap, too? Talk about a well-rounded theologian. I expect Michael would be all over your idea like white on rice (except I expect he’d want a cape so he could be Super Vanilla Ice with an SVA on his chest). You go girl!

    • #John1453

      As it’s halloween, it’s quite apropos to be lashed with a severed tongue (your typo). On a more serious note, each has to be sensitive to his/her own past and journey. So, no, I don’t think Steve is opening up a can of worms. Being thoughtfully sensitive to one’s own experiences and journey is far different from being a dumb sheep and unthinkingly banning halloween because of jack ‘o lanterns and what some one on the internet said about them.

    • cherylu

      Thanks Steve Long,

      You took what I said a step further. I have read similar things elsewhere.

      I really don’t know why we as Christians find it so hard to believe that when we dabble with occultic things that the Bible has clearly told us are an abomination to the Lord, we may get hurt.

      When I was growing up I went trick or treating too. Back then witches and ghosts and goblins were thought of as purely imaginary or superstition. No one seemed to be aware that there are very real spiritual powers out there that can cause people harm.

      I have also read repeatedly that Halloween is the high holy night for witches and wiccans at the present time. The occult appears to be growing in this country all of the time. Those who participate in these things obviously don’t think of Halloween as just a fun and games time.

    • Vance

      Harry Potter = cool stories about wizards and magic and good overcoming evil.

      Lord of the Rings = cool stories about wizards and magic and good overcoming evil.

      Anyone condemning Harry Potter and NOT condemning Lord of the Rings has some explaining to do.

      As for Halloween, yes, it originated with a Celtic Pagan holiday.

      And Christmas originated with A pagan holiday lined up with the winter soltice and we still see many elements of that pagan holiday that has survived even after the Christians took it over for the celebration of Jesus’ birth (hint: evergreen trees were sacred to ancient Celts).

      And Easter was co-opted from a pagan Spring celebration . . . etc.

      Yes, there are still flavors of the pre-Christian pagan celebrations in all of these, but we don’t fret about it too much because we have morphed them into something harmless and fun. I am not worried about my children becoming Satanists at Halloween any more than I am worried about them being tempted to worship the holy pagan evergreen tree at Christmas.

    • Vance

      To follow up:

      Anyone who prevents their children from Trick-or-Treating should also not have a decorated Christmas Tree or color any Easter eggs, since those were also pagan religious rituals. Seriously, I don’t see how you could condemn the one while still indulging in the others.

    • Mike

      I’ve got the perfect solution to split the difference: A Bible-based Halloween night.

      Goliath with a severed head and one serious frontal lobe fracture.

      Sisera with a nail through the skull.

      Take your pick of any apostle (with exception of John).

      Dare I say Jesus?

      The possibilities are endless…and it’s perfectly holy!


    • Bryant

      Poster # 44, Just to flesh this out a wee bit more, I understand what the issues can be and still feel that the trick or treating is not an evil in and of itself. Albeit though the thing that has changed and probably is more terrific are the costumes and make up that have morphed since I was a doing the hobo thing back in the late 60’s. I must say that the make up and costumes are very life like and surreal with a twist of gothic eerie demonic flavor that would scare the —- out of you. We are going to Kings Dominion this year with our 7 yr old and we plan on taking her out of there before dark, simply because these folks are out to scare people, perhaps not all costumes. But I bet you me that some will look like they came right of hell’s house and those can cause a mind to wander and wonder about the darkness and all that it entails. There is a fine line here. It is one thing to neighborhood and trick or treat, or perhaps a costume party. But surly it can get a bit too far off course. Some folks simply like the demonic look and perhaps they do not understand the reality of good & evil in light of a biblical world view. So while it’s fun and games, it also could be a reality. How do we know exactly what demons look like?
      Remember the movie “Storm of the century” by Stephen King That was surreal enough to believe it could be, get the point

    • C Michael Patton

      Oh no. The integrity of this post has just been compromised. Will is no longer going to be a ghost, but he is back to being a Stormtrooper.

      Oh, also, I just added a poll.

    • mbaker

      Well, I guess now you really have problem to deal with, Michael, a little Hitlerite on your hands! 🙂

    • Lisa Robinson

      Awesome! It’s taken some time to release the fundie out of my soul. But slowly each year I began to understand how unnecessary the separatist position is.

      Halloween does not open you up to the occult. Dabbling in the occult opens you up to the occult.

      PS: Mark Young’s lecture on this was great. I wish every Halloween-is-evil Christian could hear it.

    • Steven Long

      Let me clarify a couple of things that were taken waaay out.

      (1) I never said that trick or treating was evil (as quoted by Vance). I simply stated that I did not feel that involvement in the Halloween festivities was Christ honoring and so my family chooses not to engage in them.

      (2) I didn’t say anything about HP or LOTR. I never mentioned that one was okay and the other was wrong. I’m assuming they were being used as examples for the sake of arguement. Please correct me if I am wrong. But even so, why bring them up as examples if they were not used in the first place?

      (3) There is huge difference between celebrating All Hallow’s Eve and Christmas & Easter. While dressing up is not inherently evil it is the motive in which a person chooses to celebrate. Cheryl mentioned a couple of good points about those who do celebrate it in an evil or occultic way.

      (4) Final point: My comments were simply to make people aware that spiritual forces can and are indeed focused upon children. Some children (though not all) seem to be much more aware and are highly prone to follow through on their inclinations. Again, I was one of those kids, even as young as 7 or 8 I remember thinking a lot about those kinds of things. That was the springboard that took me to the place that I eventually landed. My comments were never meant to be taken as judgmental or condemning; simply as awareness of what does lie out there.

    • Robert Whitaker

      Hm. Very interesting discussion. I see the point of both sides, but I also see a lot of strawmen. Couple brief thoughts… Obviously, the ‘trick-or-treating leads to Satan worship’ argument is a slippery slope fallacy. No ones arguing that. Please stop rebutting it. Also, the ‘Christmas and Easter (etc.) were once pagan holidays too’ argument will only work when Halloween is adopted by the church and made about Jesus. This is clearly not analogous. Please stop using it. And lastly (and most importantly), I see a whole lot of negative arguments flying around for the celebration of Halloween, but no positive ones. And before you label me a ‘fundie’ and begin hurling the jokes (some of which have been quite good), know that I am almost totally on board with the original post. That said, I see a whole lot of defensive, ‘there’s nothing wrong with it,’ ‘it won’t lead to anything’ kind of arguments, while those showing positive support (from Scripture or otherwise) for the celebration are oddly scarce. But perhaps not so oddly. A friend of mine recently challenged some friends to show from Scripture how celebrating Halloween through things like haunted houses and scary movies was a good idea. Not surprisingly, silence ensued. I think this is the crux of the issue. Maybe it’s just my Bible, but Phil. 4:8 doesn’t have anything in it about murder, violence, gore, occultic imagery, etc. As far as I can see, this issue, like so many others, is less about what is acceptable for the believer and more about what is best. So, positive arguments, anyone? By the way, I love the idea of passing out the best candy. Christians are so cheap.

    • SW

      I’m afraid there are some cold hearts here… While we should celebrate our freedom in Christ, and participate if we feel free to do so in God-honoring ways, if someone has a problem with it, and their conscience won’t allow them to enjoy that freedom, we are to be compassionate and not try to convince them that their conscience is wrong… Romans 14:1 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2 One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

      So with that, while it is okay for some people to participate in events that occur on Halloween, some people should not.

      Romans 14 continues: 13Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. 14 As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15 If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16 Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

      19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

      22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

      Above all, don’t flaunt your freedom in other’s faces, and don’t try to convince someone that your conviction should apply to them. I think that’s what the Bible is trying to say… Love, love, love, all you need is love!

    • Dock Probert

      Wow, your brush sure paints a wide swath! Since when did you become so narrow minded?

    • #John1453

      Gee, where is the biblical support for any so-called “good” idea like movies, bound books (i.e., codexes rather than scrolls), recorded music, pianos, Christmas, Easter, Good Friday, Mass, mega-churches, special church buildings, pastors, head pastors, youth groups, youth pastors, worship leaders, music pastors, fiction books, cars, electricity, mechanical farming. By that criteria even the Amish and Old Order Mennonites are a bit too worldly.

      And stop hiding behind doors and going “boo” to children or others. That has no scriptural support as a good idea either.

      Christmas and Easter are excellent analogies, because the principle involved is not one of converting pagan holidays to Christian ones, but that the pagan roots of any festival or celebration are determinative of whether Christians can celebrate.

      Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, skeletons, mummies, Frankenstein, ogres, fairies and the like are not Satanic, demonic or occultic because they have nothing to do with how satan and real evil spirits operate in this world. They are cultural creations (so yes, C. Michael, I am not in principle opposed to ghost costumes, though my kids still can’t have them). They may culturally associated with other scary things that go bump in the night like Devils, but that’s about it.

      Some people celebrate the new moon, some don’t. To each his own (well, except for Arminians. All Piper-heads know that Arminians should not be allowed to teach).

      Wavering between a ghost and a stormtrooper? C. Michael, haven’t you taught your boy about the dangers of being doubleminded? It’s always best to pick one side (preferably on teh basis of irrational biases like “I like the white helmets a lot”) and then stick with it regardless of the evidence. Hmmm, and there’s the theological issue to consider: is it better to blatantly be a minion of the devil, or to disavow any personality to the spiritual realm. That is, if one is not going out dressed as a Christian figure (St. George killing the dragon), is it then better to be a Hindu or a Bhuddist?

      Your posts, CMP, always seem to lead to deeper theological issues. Thanks.


    • Les


      Amen bro. And “Nuff said.” I’m pulling out my zombie outfit from 2 years ago. And YES…our house has the BEST candy on the block. Chocolate bars, baby! Full size.

      PS: no tratcs from us…puhleeze. Evangelize thru relationship not gimmicks.

    • PoK

      Yes, yes, and mo’ yes! Thanks for this brotha! This was definitely on my heart this morning and I will be talking about this tomorrow at my CD drop party!

      Christ up!
      Reppin His Name,

    • mbaker

      You bring up a good point #John about dressing as some Christian figure if you’re going to celebrate halloween in a Christian way.

      I’ve been to several alternative Christian parties and seen kids decked out as skeletons, pirates, and other outfits which might be considered “occultic” by some, but neither at my door or in a church party have I yet to see any Christian kid come as Jesus, or one of the apostles, or even a wise man.

      One what certainly think that Christians who object to regular halloween costumes would take note.

      Also, how about movies and television programs Christians let their kids watch that contain violence (think NFL and hockey for instance) and never bat an eyelash.

    • Vance

      Steven, my post was not in response to yours at all. In fact, I had not even read your post. I just skimmed through the comments and then added my own thoughts on the subject in general. I brought up Harry Potter because Michael had mentioned in his original article.

    • #John1453

      The reason some of us ridicule the halloween to satan worship slippery slope is not that some people on this blog argue for it, but because there is a significant subset of evangelicals and fundamentalists (evanjellies and fundies?) who do. It’s craziness to think that Satan is somehow more active on halloween night. Is he not maximally active every day of every year? It’s not like he goes on holidays or takes naps. Is it that God partially withdraws his hand every year based on the cultural events of one people group so that Satan can be more active? Does satan specially assign demons to follow around kids dressed up in red devil costumes? Do demons like to camp out in yards with tombstone and bone and zombie displays, over yards without such decorations?

      Though everyone is at liberty to treat new moons and idol meat in their own way, I think it is far better to participate in cultural events than to withdraw completely. But participate in a way that is not, for example, gory or closely associated with evil. Dress kids as hobos or clowns or bugs. Decorate your yard with cobwebs and spiders. Give out good candy, but please no tracts, that is not participationg in a cultural event but merely a hijack of a cultural event and does not give Christians a good reputation but, in my opinion, creates an unnecessary barrier to the gospel. And all christians end up getting saddled with the reputation created by tract givers. I’d rather nonChristians hate me for being against abortion than think I’m looney for giving out tracts.

    • Lindsey

      John….you should hear him beat-box. One word…WOW!

    • #John1453

      Lindsey, re #265

      I would pay on iTunes for a download of that!

    • Nita

      Why can’t everyone participate or not participate in halloween activities without being ridiculed by the other side? I don’t participate. That said, I don’t find it necessary to talk down to those who do. My friends and family know my stance and respect it. I don’t turn out my lights or hide. I just don’t answer the door. How is that a poor witness? I don’t answer my door to people I don’t know on any other day, why should I on halloween? It’s not like I get a lot of random doorbell ringers on any given day, and since I live pretty far off of the road and there are only 3 houses on my street, we don’t get many trick or treaters in our neck of the woods.

      No one has to take part in Halloween activities. No one is being forced not to. Do people make this big of a deal over whether or not folks put up Christmas trees? When you try too hard to convince someone of your side, you end up looking like you’re really trying to convince yourself. Why be so anxious to pull someone over to “your side”? Everyone is perfectly entitled to do what they like (as long as it’s legal), and neither celebrating nor not celebrating halloween is a crime.

    • Vance

      SW, I don’t think this is about condemning others for their convictions and choices, but arguing against when those WITH such convictions attempting to condemn those who don’t share them. I have no problem with my church having a “Fall Festival” (although I think it is silly), but I DO have a problem with them telling me that my children should not trick-or-treat.

      Let’s face it, the tone of most of these posts arises as a response TO condemnation by fellow Christians.

    • Vance

      Nita, as I mentioned in my response to SW, it is not the decision not to celebrate that is the problem, but the simple fact that SO many in the Church today are out there actively condemning a celebration of Halloween and treating (explicitly or implicitly) their fellow Christians who DO celebrate as if they are lukewarm or compromising Christians.

      Yes, some of the this discussion has been about whether it is acceptable or not, so those who think it is acceptable will be explaining exactly why they think the other side is wrong (and having a bit of fun with it along the way). But, really, out in the real world, which side is more condemning and judging of the other? I would say that the Halloween-haters are much more vocal and judgmental (not to mention a bit self-righteous).

    • Nita


      That’s my point. Neither side needs to be condemning. I don’t think halloween is an issue of salvation. Get worked up about those matters, not this stuff.

    • mbaker


      I agree with you, and Dr. Mike in #22. I don’t consider myself a wicked depraved wretch because I don’t have a real issue with celebrating halloween, or not.

      Simply arguing over halloween, or celebrating any other holiday for that matter is silly. It’s no different than an anti-war Christian saying Christian veterans shouldn’t celebrate Memorial Day, or vice versa. As far as the stumbling your brother issue, it would be hard to know in that case who was stumbling who!

      The Bible says all things are permissible, but not all are profitable. I think the decision of whether or not something like this is profitable for Christians to indulge in should rest strictly with the conscience of each individual family.

      I’m not a vegetarian, but it doesn’t mean I can’t eat and enjoy both meat and vegetables, without making my vegan Christian friends stumble, or vice versa.

    • Jugulum


      “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that you [should/shouldn’t] celebrate Halloween.”

    • […] people to a much better oct. 31st happening, this time of year, i came across a great blog post here concerning those who think participating in halloween is an endorsement of satan worship and baby […]

    • Vance

      Nita and mbaker: agreed and agreed.

      I just wish my church (and so many other Christians) also agreed.

    • DDP

      Interesting blog that I found on my awesome Reclaiming the Mind toolbar Daily Theo Reader (shameful plug). Loving the toolbar Michael.

    • Realist

      I’ve enjoyed volley after volley of argument and debate, some fun, some not so fun.

      To me, it seems the core issue that brings all of this up, is hypocrisy. All people deal with hypocrisy in their lives in some way or another.

      If your kids get to watch violence and potentially blood while watching sports, then, it seems like hypocrisy to say that halloween is evil. I’m not saying there is no relationship to pagan or occult practices in the roots of the holiday. I’m just saying, be clear about what the issues are.

      Too many Christians (which is where I see most of the ‘You Can’t do that’ mentality come from) focus on blatant ‘bad’ things, while they do nothing about the subtle sins that are dealt with daily. Don’t focus on kids getting involved in the occult on a daily basis, when you aren’t doing anything about that on any other day.

      Casting Crowns has a song “Slow Fade”.. It reminds us that habitual sin doesn’t occur all at once, certainly not over a single day like Halloween. If we are truly concerned with children becoming entrenched in the occult, why is it only worried about on October 31st? If it is such a big threat, then it should be worried about all throughout the year.

      Since, it takes a while to get entrenched in these types of thnigs. If someone is going to become involved in the occult, it’s not going to be because ‘Halloween made them do it’. It’s a much more systemic issue. The issue is more that no one was sharing the love of Christ in the person’s life (on a regular basis), showing an alternative, and caring for them so that they didn’t feel alone and powerless. Most of those that I have read about that get into the occult, is because of a desire to belong, or to gain power. Both of these issues are not occultic. They are regular, everyday person issues that any could help prevent, if they just wanted to get out of churchville, and get to know the ‘sinners’.

      I would welcome comments from those that said that they had involvement in the occult, to verify if my thoughts are true about the slow, ongoing temptation that might lead one into the occult.


    • #John1453

      re post 71

      mbaker, “I don’t consider myself a wicked depraved wretch because I don’t have a real issue with celebrating halloween, or not.”

      Theologically quite correct; according to Calvin you’re a wicked depraved wretch all the time simply because you’re human (or part human. Leprechauns are not completely depraved).

    • mbaker

      “…..Leprechauns are not completely depraved).”

      Even without our halloween costumes?

    • Lindsey

      John, they may not be completely depraved, but do they have representation for attonement? If we would open our eyes and just stop celebrating Halloween and all the other pagan holidays, I would say we are the lucky ones.

    • cherylu


      I can’t speak for anyone else of course, however I was very concerned about my kids and occult influences in every day life. Not just on Halloween. Just because the topic at the moment is Halloween, doesn’t mean there isn’t concern the rest of the year also.

    • #John1453

      Re post 75

      Thanks for the tip, DDP. It was a great read. For those interested in learning the facts about the Christian origin of halloween (no pagan origin at all), it’s a good place to go.

      After reading that one, anyone who spent at least part of their childhood in the 70s must go the following blog post on the First Things website:

      Like the author I’m still creeped out by Jack Chick tracts, and I also had the weird experience of being able to read Chick comics about demons and about various assorted sordid crimes and sins (including fornication, of deep interest to a pre-teen/teen), but not being permitted to read Archie and Jughead or Spiderman.

      Those of you who missed out on the Jack Chick thing have really missed a part of childhood. For those of us who went through it, it creates instant bonds of familiarity and friendship. It’s like belonging to a fraternity or sorority–no matter where you go, if you meet someone else who had the Jack Chick experience you have met a friend and have something in common to talk about.

      I understand that Jack is still alive, but somehow he just doesn’t have the cachet now that he did back then.


    • mbaker


      #John was referring to some of my recent attempts at humor about evolution on the other thread. It’s kind of an Irish thing.

    • #John1453

      re post 50 and Christian themed costumes

      Mike, you wrote truer than you knew (or did you?).

      Mike wrote, “I’ve got the perfect solution to split the difference: A Bible-based Halloween night. Goliath with a severed head and one serious frontal lobe fracture. Sisera with a nail through the skull. Take your pick of any apostle (with exception of John). Dare I say Jesus? The possibilities are endless…and it’s perfectly holy!”

      In fact, that’s how early Christians did dress up!

      If the article from which I got this is true, then,

      “Hallowe’en was created by the Early Christian Church during the 4th century.1 Originally celebrated on the 13th and 14th of May as “All Martyr’s Day,” it was instituted to remember those who had given their lives for the Faith during the Great Christian Holocaust, by Rome. It was, in other words, the Christian Memorial Day — the second most important holy-day in the entire Christian Calendar. Somewhere along the way it apparently became customary to hold Church pageants on the preceding evening. Everyone, even the audience, came dressed as their favorite martyred saint. Those who chose Paul, came beheaded. Those who chose Matthew, came with a spear thrust through them. In skits, congregations would reenact the valor and passion of the Church-in-persecution. Others dressed as the antagonists of the stories — Satan, his demons, the wild animals of the coliseum, the soldiers and the Caesars. These were the defeated enemies, booed and hissed, while the victorious heroes were cheered. Afterward they would all spill out into the streets of the city, begging food for the poor among them.”

      The following were provided as references:

      “In the late 4th century, a feast of All Martyrs was observed by the Eastern Syrians on May 13 and by the West Syrians and Byzantines on the Sunday following Pentecost. Pope Boniface IV received from the emperor Phocas (reigned 602-610) the Pantheon at Rome, which he dedicated on May 13 to St. Mary and All Martyrs. The Feast of All Saints on November 1 was promulgated by Pope Gregory IV in 835, in place of the May festival.” v.16, p.308, 1a, Encyclopedia Britannica, Chicago, IL, 1992

      “On All Hallows, many churches staged plays called pageants for the benefit of their members. Each pageant participant dressed up as the patron saint of his special guardian. Those who did not play the part of a ‘holy one’ played the part of devils. The procession then marched from the church out into the churchyard where the play might continue until late in the evening.” p 36, Phillips, P., Halloween and Satanism, Starburst Publ., Penn, 1987″

      And thanks to all those who have been lightening up the usually serious discussions that occur here. : )

      [yes, my smileys are lame. I have an irrational biase against the new ones. They just seem too slick, faddish, newfangled and trendy]


    • Cadis

      # John,

      The link with the Chick tract in post #81, That was ridiculous. And a good point you make. I wouldn’t let my child read that tract without some serious explanation from me. Trouble is I don’t know how I would explain it.

    • Cadis

      I think it is legitimate to refrain from participating in Halloween, but just not for superstitious or lame reasons. That’s what I think was being made fun of. I live in a small town and the atmosphere here is not very scary on Halloween. Decorations are more along the lines of those huge plastic bubble things with a Casper style ghost inside or pillow cases tied to tree branches etc. The scariest thing here is the possibility of bumping into a bear. I don’t recall ever seeing blood in any house displays. So I can and do empathize with parents who have kids in a setting where Halloween scares them more than thrills them. But I still think it is wrong to imply to non Christians and children that Halloween is somehow Satan’s big day of influence that translates to Satan looking like a weak enemy . And sometimes, as in my setting, a silly looking enemy

      It’s like the child who wakes up afraid that something is under their bed and you coddle and hug and let the them sleep in your bed with you ..he or she will wake you up every night for weeks, because you have by your actions confirmed to that child there is something to be afraid of and that it is possible something might be under their bed. You tell the child they are wrong, then you show them nothing is under the bed , you leave the light on , kiss them goodnight and walk away. I think that same principle can be applied to Halloween by drawing back from it , it can translate that there is a legitimate fear of Halloween as being extra paranormal and a day of Satan and his demons. In my neck of the woods it’s a day of pillowcases tied to tree limbs…any kid of mine would think I was insane. So I agree with the sentiment that there is and should be liberty for Christians in this area but I would like it that every Christian had a coherent and sound reason and that’s the problem a lot of them don’t.

    • Nita

      You said: “So I agree with the sentiment that there is and should be liberty for Christians in this area but I would like it that every Christian had a coherent and sound reason and that’s the problem a lot of them don’t.”

      Are you sayign that someone has to have a coherent and sound reason for not celebrating halloween? Why? I don’t think anyone who celebrates it has a coherent and sound reason for so doing. Why does either side need a coherent and sound reason? If it’s “only a day for dressing up and getting candy”, what difference does it make why someone does or does not celebrate it and who decides what reasons are coherent and sound? If I’m understanding you correctly, I think that’s a bit ridiculous.

    • #John1453

      Our document management system has been down a lot today, giving me time to post.

      re post 86 by Nita

      I suppose that Cadis means that if someone is not participating in halloween for moral or spiritual reasons, then one should have reasons that are actually cogent and make sense.

      One would also need reasons if one is trying to convince someone else to either participate in, or not participate in, halloween (I’d not call it a celebration, but whatever).

      On the other hand, if participating or not participating in halloween is merely a matter of personal preference–like which flavour of ice cream one likes–then Nita is correct: no reasons are necessary.

      I think that for most people, however, participating in halloween is not simply a matter of personal preference.


    • Susan

      This just caught my eye, because my 8 year old asked me if he could be a ghost at our church carnival ) held on Halloween night) this year. I tossed this around in my head for a bit too….and then decided: Why not? His idea is to use his blankie with his gnome hat on top. He tried on the blankie and realized that it’s so shredded he can’t very well hide under it. Plan B?

    • #John1453

      Susan (re your post #88): check out Cadis’ post #3 for plan B. She wrote, “A sheet with two holes? Casper? or are you going to totally white him out somehow? At least the third option has some possibilities (thinking of the Scrooge ghosts in the movie from the 40’s) I’m seeing some vasolene and baby powder is this kids near future.”


      cherylu, I just reread your initial posts. I think it is clear by now, but the other posters and I who are making fun of halloween are not making fun of people like you or steve who have their own, personal reasons for not participating, but making fun of the more generic hysteria about halloween and satanism that is unthinkingly propogated. Just wanted to make sure that you knew we respect you.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Nita, I see what you’re getting at but I’d have to agree with John and Vance (see #69). It’s more than just a preference. The one who believes that Halloween is participating in evil and demonic activity will see the Halloween celebrating brother or sister as participating also. There’s a big difference between not celebrating because you think its stupid vs. not celebrating because its evil. So the premise that it is evil is what is being challenged. Otherwise, the accusation is the Christians who do so are participating in darkness. So yeah, I don’t think that’s so ridiculous.

    • cherylu

      Regarding post # 89,

      Thanks # John.

      Just wanted to let everyone know, because of the circumstances here, that if you don’t hear from me for awhile, it is not because I am going away mad! We have a gentleman here doing a bunch of interior house painting. So I have a large scale mess going on. Having been sitting down for a minute off and on during the day to catch up–and to catch my breath. Trying to keep everything moved out of the way ahead of him is a challenge even if we did a bunch yesterday. Have too much stuff! And at some point, my computer will be disconnected for quite some time. So if I disappear, know I will be back.

    • J.R.

      NEWS FLASH………Demons got a toe hold on CMP’s toe!! This has to prove Halloween is baaad. 😉

    • Lisa Robinson

      J.R., I think that’s why he’s beat-boxing 😛

    • Susan

      Hi there, Lisa? What are you going to be for this years DTS Halloween Parade? Luther?

      Hi John, thanks for pointing out the ghost options from Cadis. I like the scrooge ghost idea….but Vasaline? Yuck! He’d be scratching it off I think. Is that really how it’s done?

      I’m hoping he will decide to go with last year’s astronaut costume….because it’s easy!….and he has a school parade tomorrow.

      I haven’t been reading this thread so I won’t jump into the more serious discussion….but I’ll go with Lisa’s take (as usual!) 😉

    • Lisa Robinson

      Luther’s a wimp. I’m going as Elizabeth I 😉

    • Cadis

      Nita in post #86.

      Yeah I could have worded that better. My husband and I are doing nothing for Halloween this year for no good reason. Okay we live a mile back a dirt road and even when we have left the lights on…the kids won’t come. So I guess that is a reason.

    • mbaker


      Yeah, and besides how could anyone criticize a virgin queen? Oops, sorry to you others who don’t seem to see the inherent humor in all this, it’s just the rogue Irish in me acting up again.

      I’m still going as a leprechaun though, since it’s said to be of part of my genetic code. 🙂

      Oh, and Susan, white nurse’s hose work much better.

    • DDP

      Sorry to respond to an earlier post (#76) so late. I started this earlier in the day but had to leave to pick up the kids from school. I wanted to respond to Realist’s request.

      “Since, it takes a while to get entrenched in these types of thnigs. If someone is going to become involved in the occult, it’s not going to be because ‘Halloween made them do it’. It’s a much more systemic issue. The issue is more that no one was sharing the love of Christ in the person’s life (on a regular basis), showing an alternative, and caring for them so that they didn’t feel alone and powerless. Most of those that I have read about that get into the occult, is because of a desire to belong, or to gain power.”

      Realist, you hit the nail on the head, at least in my case. I almost submitted a post last night expressing these exact thoughts. I decided not to as I am always concerned I might come off sounding harsh or my words taken in a way not intended. Oh well, throwing caution to the wind, here goes. I was involved in the occult for a brief time for the very reasons you describe. I would add lack of solid family values being practiced in the home to this mix. I was not ignorant to the gospel. In fact I distinctly remember at a young age praying “the prayer” and attending church for many years during my youth without my family’s participation. For reasons I will not go into other than church hypocrisy and personal ignorance, I left the church while in my teen years. Many years later, in my early 30’s, I became involved in the occult of wicca. I am thankful God convicted me during that time so I did not become entrenched. I do have to say that the spiritual strangeness I experienced after leaving was enough to convince me that we Christians should take the occult seriously, very seriously. I experienced things I cannot explain. I still get a little rattled talking about it, so it is rare that I do. I use my experience on those occasions to mentor individuals I feel in danger of following the deceitful path to destruction.

      I respect the arguments and choices of those who choose not to participate in Halloween. After coming back or entering the fold, however you look at it, I had a knee jerk reaction to Halloween for a period of time. That is until I truly took the time to reflect on the reasons why I became involved in the occult to begin with. It is those reasons that trouble me deeply and drive me to focus instead on those issues, year round with the children. Fighting to explain to the kids why they can’t dress up and collect candy left me feeling disingenuous, because I did so based on someone else’s opinions and beliefs. I do not claim to have all the answers, nor do I speak for others with experience in the occult. I simply hope to provide a small amount of insight through my experience.

    • J.R.

      I pray CMP is not beat boxen to Jerry Lee Lewis “you shake my bones and you rattle my brain”

    • J.R.

      Sorry, it should have been “you shake my nerves an you rattle my brain” I couldn’t edit on an iPhone.

    • mbaker

      Thanks for your honest response, DDP. I am in complete agreement that it takes more than once a year to get into the occult. Sometimes I even think it is actually an over reaction by Christian parents to what they perceive to be the evils of halloween, and their on going knee jerk reactions to movies like Harry Potter, et al, that can actually make kids more curious about the occult.

      Sometimes we Christians can indeed be our own worst enemies.

    • […] Michael Patton got a little fired up in his post a few days ago, chiding those who consider Halloween irredeemably evil.  Lots of comments on this one: Jesus with His Lights Turned off on Halloween […]

    • Nita

      Regarding Post #90


      A person only needs a reason if they are trying to convince someone else that he/she is wrong for celebrating halloween. If a person says, “I don’t celebrate halloween because I think it’s evil, but I couldn’t care less about what others do on October 31”, no reason is necessary. It’s no different than a person saying, “I would never paint the outside of my house bright pink because I think it’s tacky”. Would you demand an explanation from that person as well? Now, it would be different if they added that no one should ever use bright pink to decorate anything. But, that’s not what’s being said. Personal reasons are usually just that; personal.

      **Disclaimer: I am using “I” and “you” generically below. There is not an ounce of animosity or anger.**

      If I’m trying to convince you that you’re in error for participating in halloween activities; then sure, I have to give you some valid reasons. *IF* I state that I think it’s occultic and satanic roots make it something in which I choose not to participate, I am under NO obligation to give you any other “reasons”. I have my own very strong convictions about pretty much everything…LOL, but unless I’m trying to drag you over to my side, I don’t owe you any explanation Likewise, anyone who chooses to participate in halloween activities doesn’t have to explain a thing to me.

    • Renton

      “Halloween,” and/or “All Hallows Eve,” are part of a Catholic holy season: “hallow” means holy.

      Maybe the original intention was inclusivistic? Even syncretistic? To allow all religious holy traditions to participate in this day. Which to be sure, meant even inviting characters that seemed to be demons etc., to the celebration.

      Maybe the better to convert them? By feeding them all?

    • Cadis


      I know your addressing Lisa, but it was my comment initially that you were responding to and the intent of my comment was not to demand a response from every person who does not participate in Halloween but for those who chose not to participate in Halloween to not base thier decision in superstition or because of peer pressure, etc..but that they are convinced in their own minds for sound reasons or to maintain a clear conscience and or for whatever reason but not because of things that have been “conjured” by other well meaning Christians. Such as Satan with a pumpkin head in the woods with a chainsaw stupifying our children into a trance so that they will sacrifice cats to him. (the tract that was linked which is what sparked my original comment and what prompted me to say what I didn’t word so well)

    • Nita


      I’ll definitely agree that buying into a bunch of “hype” is stupid. I mean, if you’re (again generic here) a Christian and raising your children in a Christian home, yet you think halloween activities can somehow cause your kid to go astray…you’re not saying much for your parental influence.

      It amazes me that this becomes such a huge issue every.single.year. I read another “Christian” forum where the halloween debate starts around the middle of September every year. The dialogue on this blog is refreshing, things get pretty heated around there. Same thing happens with Christmas. Funny who as a whole, we’ll (generic again) argue about things like this until we’re blue in the face; but won’t address real issues of sin and salvation. Weird, huh?

      By the way…you mean to tell me that the Pumpkin head with the chainsaw I saw in the woods near my house last halloween wasn’t the devil?

    • #John1453

      I like blogging here because people are civil and funny and interesting and thought-provoking and forgiving when things get heated and vigorous, and the participants don’t give up on each other.

      Thanks for your contributions Nita and Cadis.


    • tamara

      This is a big conversation in our church community, and there is lots of hurt that goes around because of judgment on both sides.

      I think, like with everything, it is about the spirit/Spirit it is done in? If you are proclaiming Christ through your choice, that is the point. If your conscience doesn’t allow you to participate, fine. Drive around leaving baskets of goodies on random doorsteps, just for fun. Bake a big batch of cookies and take them to all your neighbours on All Saints Day instead. Or, turn all your lights on, put up the Christmas lights, dress up like Christmas carolers and stand out on your front lawn singing… hand out oranges and candy canes. What does seem unGodly and defeatist to me is the drawing of the curtains, the turning out of the lights… We’d rather sit in the darkness in our own homes than shine a light on the street. BAH!… Like, ‘the church is going to bed early… wake us up when the devil is gone.’ It’s arrogant and it’s closed fisted. We are called to overcome evil with good.

      By the same token, if you are going to participate, do it in a Christ-honoring way. It’s not a night off from being a light on a hill. Give out amazing candy, and be generous. Smile and say, ‘LOVE your costume’. Pretend to be scared when a kid tries to scare you. Teach your children about what it means to be a ‘neighbour’. Ooze peace, love and joy.

      Our kids love trick-or-treating. We teach our children (try to) that there is real, potent evil in the world, and that it is not something to poke sticks at or play around with… (no ghost costumes, witches, serial killers, etc…), BUT that the devil doesn’t get to have his own day. This day, and every day, are the LORD’S day. He has overcome evil, and we can celebrate that. Halloween, for me, is the perfect preamble to Christmas…. Really, after all the cobwebs and morbidity, who isn’t ready to receive the good news of life and light? Just from a story-line perspective, the timing couldn’t be better for it.

      I do think that perhaps there is actually something very emotionally and psychologically healthy about allowing children their own time to band together as a community, face their fears together, muster courage to look under the bed… because for the most part all those things we are afraid of are not real. They only have as much power as we give to them. God says over and over again, in the face of real and present danger and in real terror situations, ‘DO NOT BE AFRAID. I AM WITH YOU.’ Maybe on a broad scale, Halloween in some cathartic way can serve to give our over-indulged, soft, sheltered north american christian children a tangible, healthy opportunity to have a taste of what it feels like to be spooked, to look fear in the face, to practice courage, to learn what it feels like to not run from evil, but to rather turn and overcome evil with good.

    • Cadis

      Your Welcome #John this blog topic was fun even though I think the humor got misunderstood here and there. Thanks too Nita for your reply 🙂

    • […] Then, at the Life2gether blog, Doug Wolter quotes Michael Patton: I can’t believe I am going to say this but, WWJD? Really, what would Jesus do? Can you see it?… […]

    • SW

      Vance, I’m with Nita in that we should discuss and allow everyone to have their own opinion. I have read a lot of sarcastic comments on this particular post, and sarcasm just doesn’t communicate love very well. If you choose to participate in the cultural events of Halloween, then do so in a way that is God-honoring and do it well, without making the those of the opposite opinion feel that they are stupid or ridiculous. If you choose not to because you feel that nothing about it is God-honoring, then do it in a way that isn’t condemning to those of the opposite opinion. Live and let live. It seems to me that there is a lot of manipulation that goes on on both sides, and that’s just not loving. Love would “live and let live” in this regard, in a manner of speaking. (Please don’t take that and twist it into a bigger meaning than I am actually saying. I just mean to apply it to this particular argument.) I do think CMP’s original post was humble and simply spoke of his personal conviction. I realize that some of those sarcastic comments were made to encourage laughter, and we all should be able to laugh at ourselves, but unfortunately, sarcasm is more often taken as offensive.

      I WISH I could participate in Halloween, but I don’t live in America, and everyone around me would think I was nuts for dressing in a costume today… (We’ll be in the states for a year next year and I already have costumes planned for our entire family!) But I want to participate just because I want to have a reason to dress up in a costume. That’s fun to me. We’ll stay away from anything scary because neither my children nor I enjoy being scared. Pretty simple. Nita has her convictions, and I really think the most loving thing would be for me to encourage her to stick with her convictions, because according to Romans, for her to go outside of them could be sin for her, which is definitely evil.

      Nita, bravo to your family for letting everyone keep their own convictions about it and not arguing about it. That’s really cool.

    • […] Halloween-centric blog post on Pen and Parchment got me thinking about which view I hold. Obviously, growing up it was the first option. The blog […]

    • #John1453

      Two Post Halloween Thoughts

      Though Christmas has pagan origins and Halloween does not, there is no reason that what was done with Christmas cannot be done with the pagan associations of Halloween. The church took over midwinter festivals and changed them fundamentally by incorporating the pagan cultural activities and symbols (yule log, evergreen tree, lights) into christian culture. The same can and should be done with Halloween. Rather than merely a “Christ apart from culture” or Christ agains culture” approaches, we should be engaging in a Christ transforming culture (Neibuhr’s divisions, IIRC).

      Our neighbourhood public school always has a halloween parade around the block with all the kids in their costumes on the last school day before halloween. Some very creative and fun costumes: plates of spaghetti, gumball machine, toilet, slice of blueberry pie, a highway with a lit overhead sign, ipod, etc. For me, that’s what halloween is about. Fun creating costumes and going out with friends to collect candy and looking at scary yard displays of giant pumpkins, smoke machines, music, jack-o-lanterns, witches crashed into trees, inflated Caspar the ghost (we don’t have anything super gory in our neighbourhood).


    • Gary Bryan

      The argument of celebrating Halloween or not seems to be one of those arguments that only polarizes people. My perspective is a little different. It seems to me tht we, as Christians, are called upon to be spending our time and money and energy on things that are spiritual rather than things of this world. If you put a huge amount of time, effort and money into preparing for and celebrating a festival such as Halloween, then there is a better-than-zero chance that it is more important than spiritual things to you. In other words, you have a god in front of the true God. This can be true of any Holiday or anything at all in your life (including your own children).

      If you have a very moderate view of how much effort you put into Halloween, and God is always the main focus of anything you do, then I don’t think there is anything real argument as to whether you engage in Halloween activities or not. Also, if you are walking with God and not in unconfessed sin, then I think you must also follow your conscience on this one.

      As far as dressing up or not…I think you stay away from anything that resembles the theme of death/murder. I also think you are careful to avoid costumes that are in any way seductive sexually. You should also be careful to not honor a human idol who has clearly been in opposition to God’s standards in terms of lifestyle (yes, that includes a lot of people). Cute/innocent costumes for the kids are the way to go.

      I believe we are to be clearly different as Christians…people should notice. But we should not spend our time and efforts hating everyone who engages in Halloween. Our priority is to honor God and love people (in that order). Many Christians are starting to love people first and then honor God second, and this leads to a slow fade toward humanism and tolerance of every type of sin. If you are honoring God in your life, He will provide you with the answers of how much to engage in Halloween. If you are always quoting verses about how Jesus hung out with sinners and tax collectors and prostitutes, then my gut tells me that you are excusing tolerance of sin. We know that Jesus spent time with the lost, but he also spent time with those who loved, honored and believed in Him. The time he spent with sinners was for the purpose of saving them, not for the purpose of acting just like them.

      Loving the lost is the great commission of Christ, not partying along with them so that they think Christians are cool just like them. If Jesus came across as cool to the sinners, then why did he end up hanging from a cross with nails in his hands and a spear in his gut. Check our Romans 1 and tell me that we, as humans, are not susceptible to a slow-fade of sin and darkness in our life.

      Have fun on Halloween, but beware of yourself. Trust God, clean up your own life, confess sin, and love the lost…you do all this and your conscience is clear, then go ahead and carve a pumpkin, don the costume…

    • Susan

      My little Samuel had a great time at the church carnival as a ghost! We used a thin white hospital blanket…with holes cut out for eyes. Many people commented on the costume. They liked the ‘old school’ look…..Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin. I was constantly keeping the holes lined up with his eyes…… Little did I know I was coming down with the Swine Flu…

    • Kathe

      It’s not recent western fundamentalism – it is actually picking up the Word of Yahweh to find out what He thinks about it. It doesn’t matter what “I” want. It matters what “He” wants.

      He does not want us messing around with stuff like this. We can put cute and nice names on things and call them what we want to make it all nice and good but that doesn’t change things in His eyes. Just read how He treated Israel when they did the same exact thing. He warned them, warned them again and then forsook then and put them into captivity. Time and time again they attempted to mix what they wanted into what He wanted and not once did He put up with it.

      There will be many who say Lord, Lord but…but….and He is going to say, I don’t know you. It’s not easy to follow the path that He made. Few are on it because it’s much easier to follow the ways of this world. We all have the choice to do what is in our hearts and minds or to follow what He put in His Word. It’s a choice.

    • scottidog

      Great article.

      If we’re going to worry about the origins of holidays, y’all better stop celebrating Christmas too. It has every bit as much of pagan roots as Halloween does.

    • #John1453

      Re comment #116

      Messing around with what? We go out for halloween but we don’t hold a séance before we go out, or upon return throw our extra Tootsie Rolls down before a statute of the devil. Furthermore, most of the symbols and things associated with halloween have nothing to do with how satan and his minions actually operate in the world. Vampires and Frankenstein are a creation of literature, as is the modern conception of werewolves. Ghosts are not real, nor are haunted houses. Witches that worship satan don’t fly around on brooms or have green skin or black peaked hats or warts on their noses. Black cats are no more unlucky or devilish than other cats. Satan is no more active on Halloween night than on any other night, nor is God less active. Goblins and spectres and ogres and walking mummies and zombies and other things that allegedly go bump in the night are also cultural fables and creations and have nothing to do with how satan actually goes about his business.

      And my point still remains, should we as Christians merely oppose culture or stay separate from culture or transform our culture as the early church did with both Christmas and Easter. Moreover, with Halloween we actually have a cultural event that has Christian rather than pagan origins.


    • cherylu

      I keep reading on this thread that Halloween has Christian rather than pagan roots. That has surprised me since that is not what I have heard in the past. Here is a link to an article that explains it’s roots in the way I have heard it in the past:

      It says, in short, that Halloween was originaly a pagan holiday and that the Catholic Church eventually took that same day and made it All Hallows Eve. That is where the name Halloween comes from.

    • #John1453

      re post 119 and the origins of halloween

      The article linked in that comment was ill-informed about Halloween and consequently inaccurate.

      True, there is a Samhain day now observed by some on the 31st of October, but the October date is not the date originally observed. Little is known about the celtic religion and their druid priests, but it is know that their god of death and war was called Samhain. The rites celebrated in worship of that God occured on the fall equinox of the sun, which was detected by observing (among other things) the change in length of shadows cast by the sun. That day, the first day of fall, is September 22nd, not October 31st. Historians agree that the day was changed, but when and why it was changed. The most plausible date and reason relates to the co-existing and independent celebration of November 1st as all saints day.

      November 1st was not chosen by the church to celebrate All Saints day because of it’s nearness to Samhain. It was a choice by a pope, in Italy and a long way both geographically and cultural from the celts. The first festival to all Saints as well as Martyrs occurred during the reign of Pope Gregory III (731-741), who dedicated a chapel in St. Peter’s Rome on November 1 in honour of All Saints. That chapel had been the site of the Martyrdom of many Christians, and the chapel had been built to honour them, and the dedication day of the chapel was November 1st. In 837, Pope Gregory IV ordered its general observance. Thus all saints day was moved by the western church to the fall from the spring. The eastern church still uses the spring.

      A viable theory for the change in date for the observance of Samhain rituals is that a rapidly Christianized Ireland consolidated its pagan ritual day into the Church’s Hallowe’en in order to keep its own pagan traditions alive.


    • cherylu


      Well, I don’t know. There seems to be a lot of sources out there that say that Nov 1st was the celtic celebration of Samhain. I didn’t look too far, but everyone that I looked at that gave a date for it used this day. Here is another link:

    • Renton

      Even if Halloween was originally pagan, and later Christianized, then after all, still, it WAS Christianized.

      So that today, Halloween might well be regarded as a Christian holiday. Indeed, the very name is Christian: “Hallow” “eve.”

      Though to be sure, I like to think of it as also, broadly syncretistic. Or as an interesting dialogue, between many different ideas of the gods. Including the Christian one.

      You COULD show up at the door, as Jesus or an angel, after all.

    • #John1453

      The Celts who celebrated Samhain did not, obviously, use a Roman or other regularized calendar, but followed the movements of the sun moon and stars. Much debate exists about this, but it seems that many (most?) writers favour a lunar calendar, which means that festivals would move around in dates. Even if stars were used, the precession or movement of the stars in relation to the earth (remember that the Sun moves in a circular orbit around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy) slowly changes the date on which certain stellar configurations occur. Hence October 31st represents the date when the day of the festival became frozen in location in the Roman or western solar calendar.

      The more significant point is that November 1st was not chosen by the pan-European Catholic church just to Christianize a pagan celebration in Ireland. It was chosen in relation to an unrelated event: the dedication of a church celebrating martyrs of the faith.

      Furthermore, the Celts apparently started their days in the evening (like Jews), and so October 31st would have, for them, begun at sunset on the 30th and ended at sunset on the 31st. Sunset on the 31st would have begun November 1st.

      In any event, we must deal with the fact that the American cultural observance of Halloween does have some evil or occult matters or symbols associated with it. How then do we deal with it? Christ apart from Culture, Christ in or of Culture, Christ against Culture or Christ transforming culture?

      I’m with transforming culture. Which for me means participating in Halloween in a way that does not give credance to or honour to or participation in the negative aspects of Halloween. So our yard decorations do not have witches or devils, and my kids dressed up as Columbo (detective), a clown, and Spiderman. In that regard I think alternate parties in a church are a way of participating culturally in a fun event without any focus on the negative aspects. However, I still think it is still too much a Christ apart from culture. The culture in North America is to go out door to door dressed in a a costume and get candy. The question is not how do we avoid that but how do we participate in that in a positive way.


    • cherylu

      As generally celebrated by most folks today, Halloween certainly appears to have much more in common with pagan roots than Christian ones. All saints day to celebrate and remember those that have gone before doesn’t seem to have much to do with witches, ghosts, goblins, bats, black cats, jack ‘o lanterns, haunted houses, etc. So it seems to me that even if it can be proven that the Christian celebration came first and the pagan one was later moved to that date as # John asserted, it doesn’t do anything at all to convince me that participating in that type of celebration is anything that is good for me as a Christian to do. An alternative celebration perhaps, but not a standard Halloween celebration as it is done in our culture.

    • I don’t know if it’s because our kids have grown, or because I’ve lived the last ten years in a country that has zero halloween celebration, or because I’ve spiritually matured [wink], but I now find Halloween a bizarre holiday. Not the piles of candy, but the witches and ghosts and skeletons. Pumpkins are fine, superman is fine, princesses are fine. So for me, being in the world, but not of the world, would mean celebrating without that bad stuff.
      As for tracts, I agree they are cheesy. I prefer the animal skin/wild honey and locust approach to heralding the gospel…

    • J.R.

      Nicely put and articulated #John.

      I understand Cherylu aversion to celebrating Halloween due (maybe?) to her conscience and what she may see as sin to her.

      Halloween as celebrated on Oct. 31 is no more hideous or demon honoring than any other day. Christians may be quicker to judge what we think we see rather than what the heart reveals. In order for one to celebrate a “pagan” holiday one would assume they know something about it to celebrate it. In my neighborhood I can only assume the little rascals running around dressed as their favorite princess, lion king, cowboy, sports star, or pirate are just as innocent as their youth. I look forward to opening my door with a hand full of candy and sharing in the joy of God’s little blessings.

    • graceshaker

      we did a trunk or treat at an apartment complex with a local ministry team then went to our community group neighborhood and gave out hot chocolate and cotton candy. my children chose to go as queen lucy of narnia reepicheep and a bumblebee.

      that said i wonder about how involved we should be. im fine with hosting shindigs and being good neighbors. lights on and give out the best candy. but i also think we have a responsibility to our children at the very least to explain the festivities and why this day is significant.

      my 7 and 5 year old know the basics. they know this night has been celebrated all over the world since way back as a day to honor the dead. they know about the jack-o-lantern. not the sterilized churchy version about jesus shoveling our insides out in favor of a candle but the real story. they know that in some places people believe in ghosts roaming the earth on the autum equinox. they know the church celebrates all saints day on the day after.

      i think its a cop out to turn off ur lights but no more so than to blindly embrace a custom just bc its prevalent in our culture. its extreme to go either way. there needs to be balance. give ur children knowledge.

    • #John1453

      Graceshaker in post 127 has an interesting and valid approach:telling her/his kids about the real stories behind some of the halloween traditions or materials. It’s not one that even crossed my mind. Having thought about it a bit, I think I’ll stick with the way I was raised, in ignorance: Halloween is a night to dress up in costumes and get candy and people have spooky yard displays. It was that simple for me growing up and I never went beyond it, even up into my 30s (when the wacko evangelicals got into satanism and began to take over church halloween events and morality). I honestly had no clue about all the other allegedly background stuff. It was, literally, simple and fun. That’s what I want for my kids, so I’ll leave them ignorant just as I was. If the topic comes up, I’m prepared to discuss it and learn more about it with them. My position with them will be that it’s possible for christians to participate in cultural events in a way that does not dishonour God and does not lead nonChristians into thinking that we are stark raving looney mad. I will also teach them about Samuel and Saul and the wrongness of calling on dead spirits.

      Also, I wouldn’t really call Halloween a festival or celebration. Sure, it’s an event, but I don’t think it rises to the level of being either of the former.

      Until I participated in this thread, I didn’t know about the Irish/English tale of Jack not getting into either heaven or hell but being forced to carry a lit turnip and wander the earth. An interesting tale, maybe I’ll tell that to my kids since they can take it in as just a tale and not a true story of the nature of heaven and hell and salvation.


    • RBB

      Our church (an evangelical Baptist stripe) meets in the local charter school complex so we are limited in space and what we can do for activities. However for the past four years we have hosted a Trunk or Treat for the local community in the church/school parking lot. For one it’s safer in our community to get the kids to a central event. And the kids get tons more candy. Church members all try and out-do one another (in Christian love) when it comes to decorating our cars, trucks, and vans. Kids – and adults – all come dressed up as whatever. Yes, he have witches and other “non-biblical” costumes but no is turned away. And, yes, we give out tracts (not the Chick variety) and follow up on folks. This year we added inflatables and pizza, all at no cost, and wound up with 1500 people coming out. About 1200 indicated they have no home church.
      Here’s the point. Paul said if we regard the day we regard it as unto the Lord. Oct 31 is just another day we regard as the Lord’s. True, not all of our church members are in favor of this event. But what if just one family out of 1200 came to saving faith in Christ? Did Jesus have His lights on on Halloween? I’d like to think He had about 50 decorated vehicles out that night as well.

    • Moe

      Speaking of running from evil, good thing the blog owner doesn’t edit posts from nonchristians about the subject of Halloween and what they see some Christians do during that time, right?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Toe: No, it happens subtly. You know, like with Harry Potter.”

      Yeah, that is right. In twenty-first century America, I can see how much satanism has grown because of Harry Potter and Halloween.

      We talking the “HARRY POTTER IS SAY-TANN-IC!!!” preaching and book-burnings while Pullman’s Golden Compass trilogy was becoming recommended reading for children endorsed by Children’s librarians and teachers? As in while the escorts are busy depth-charging a false contact, the real torpedoes bore into the convoy from the other side?

      I got nailed by The Satanic Panic back in the Eighties. With me it was Dungeons & Dragons. You know, “Satan’s Game”?

      And the treatment gamers got from Christian Activists at the time caused a “Xians are The Enemy” backlash among gamers that continues to this day. How do you think all the Uber-Uber-Dark Fantasy RPGs & gamers got started?

      (Oh, and one more thing. Don’t just give out tracts…Shame, shame. Give out the best candy in the neighborhood. Let people know that you are the house that is not cheap.)

      And the Jack Chick Tract du jour wasn’t “BOO!” but “DARK DUNGEONS”.

    • #John1453

      Hey, if you’re headless, how do we know that you’re really a unicorn guy? Do we just take your word for it? I have some epistemic issues here.

    • Vasilon

      @ Headless unicorn guy

      You aren’t just whistling dixie there, pal!

      To this day, the fact that I am both devout and a long-time rpg fan seems to bring looks of total shock.

    • Lyberty

      This my view on Halloween.It may not have started out as what I am about to say,but you asked for our opinions.I believe it is a holiday for children of all ages.They can dress up as what they want within reason.There is nothing demonic about it except what people make of it.There are those who choose to worship Satan on that day,and that is them.I do not like the Satanists.I see nothing wrong about dressing up and the children to get candy or toys or whatever the people give as long as it is not harmful.That is why you check everything they get.I have seen church’s put up haunted houses,so my upbringing taut me Halloween is not a bad holiday for children,it is the people who do bad things that make it look bad.I love dressing up silly and being goofy for 1 night a year.There is no harm,only bad people who make it that way.

    • Lawrence


      “Speaking of running from evil, good thing the blog owner doesn’t edit posts from nonchristians about the subject of Halloween and what they see some Christians do during that time, right?”

      Yep. It is good that Mr. Patton respects the posts and posters and allows for honest discussion. Even as a non-religious guy myself, I can respect that.

      Which is more than I can say for you, Moe. You delete comments and ignore honest posts on your livejournal. So I think you should learn a lesson from the people here, and man up.

    • George Rose

      What an inspiring post!

      Too bad it took me a year to find it! =(

    • […] Halloween-centric blog post on Pen and Parchment got me thinking about which view I hold. Obviously, growing up it was the first option. The blog […]

    • […] or 3) Halloween is acceptable when done in moderation and we should have funA Halloween-centric blog post on Pen and Parchment got me thinking about which view I hold. Obviously, growing up it was the first option. The blog […]

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