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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pick my battles? Never!

Evidently I forgot to publish this post back in September.  Forgive me if you were waiting for it after reading this post.

I'm faithful enough to admit when God has corrected me. (And Phil, this is regarding the battle, not the meat. The meat thing is just a coincidence.)

"[T]here are also a slew of peripheral issues that just aren't worth fighting about and damaging people's faith about and alienating people about and upsetting people about and causing division about, even when we ab-so-lutely know the truth about those issues."


"There are really no nonessentials in the Christian's life. Our character building will be full of peril while we underrate the importance of the little things."

Here's how it all went down.

My facebook status, otherwise known as the spark that started the forest fire: Trunk or Treat is not a Christian alternative to Halloween; it's a compromise. We should never compromise God's true word.

JM: Huh?

KT: Halloween is a secular holiday.

Me: your point?

KT: So is the 4th of July. Do you not celebrate it?

Me: halloween is based in very anti-christian practices. it's so many things the bible warns us against participating in.

JH: "Many Christians ascribe no negative significance to Halloween, treating it as a purely secular holiday devoted to celebrating "imaginary spooks" and handing out candy. To these Christians, Halloween holds no threat to the spiritual lives ...of children: being taught about death and mortality, and the ways of the Celtic ancestors actually being a valuable life lesson and a part of many of their parishioners' heritage. In the Roman Catholic Church Halloween is viewed as having a Christian connection, and Halloween celebrations are common in Catholic parochial schools throughout North America and in Ireland. Other Christians feel concerned about Halloween, and reject the holiday because they feel it trivializes - or celebrates - paganism, the occult, or other practices and cultural phenomena deemed incompatible with their beliefs. A response among some fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches in recent years has been the use of 'Hell houses', themed pamphlets, or comic-style tracts such as those created by Jack T. Chick in order to make use of Halloween's popularity as an opportunity for evangelism. Some consider Halloween to be completely incompatible with the Christian faith because of its origin as a pagan "Festival of the Dead". For example, Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate Halloween because they believe anything that originated from a pagan holiday should not be celebrated by true Christians." Or, if you're a laid-back atheist, you view it as a fun holiday to celebrate as a tradition with your family and neighbors. To each their own.

AB: Actually, one of the foundations of Halloween goes back to Medieval England, when on November First---All Souls Day, the less fortunate would go fron house to house begging for food. The townspeople would be prepared, with fruit and a special bread called a "Soal Cake." The song "A Soalin'" tells the story.

Me: I believe ignoring the occult background of the holiday and just taking away the "fun" parts is deceiving yourself. God tells us explicitly to have nothing to do with the occult. There is no question occult practices are still alive and kicking each and every halloween. For the record, if it were up to me, I wouldn't have a Christmas tree, either.CP: My family has aways had fun with the holiday and I believe myself to be a strong Christian. I'm a firm believer that God can and will turn all things to His Good! I believe it is time for the Christians to reach out to the un-churched and non-believers. I don't believe we should hold ourselves up in our homes with crosses in our hands. We should be out there with the cross in our hearts.

Phil: I'm getting Katie a Ouija board for Christmas!

LE: CH, I loved what you said! Beautifully stated!

CH: We'd have to ditch Christmas and Easter for pagan ties, as well. While I don't think it is wise to go around doing "occult" things like having a tarot reading, consulting the horoscope,etc... (chiefly, because it's a lot of nonsense)...I don't see any harm in Halloween or Dia de los Muertos. These festivities are tied in with All Saints Day and All Souls Day and the month of November which is traditionally a time for remembering the departed. If you want to have a more Christian flare to the holiday, have the kids dress up as little saints or literary characters of good moral fiber. :) Don't like Santa? Tell them about St. Nicholas. It's a better story anyway.  My favorite holiday story is Six to Eight Black Men by David Sedaris. But, I suppose that's not the most kid-friendly story. Depending on the kid, their belief or disbelief in the American Santa, and whatnot.
And ewww... did I just see the name Jack Chick mentioned? Ewww... I need a bucket o' brain bleach and an eye-ball scrub, now. Thanks. Ewww.... that fellow is repulsive. I think it is important to note, especially for people who have little experience with Christianity, that there is a big difference between religion (a genuine attempt to relate to the intangible, ineffable reality beyond mundane physical experience and an appreciation of the Divine through contemplation of the overarching spiritual themes found in human existence) and superstition (fear of ghoulies/ghosties/long-legged-beasties/things-that-go-bump based on some ignorant nonsense someone dreamed up). Now, to be fair, these things sometimes intersect, because people tend to do stupid things (i.e. thinking God Almighty showed up in a cheese sandwich and then paying homage to the cheese sandwich). Most sane Christians are genuinely embarrassed by this sort of behavior. That said, I guess, if you're the sort of Christian who feels in danger of being swayed to evil by nonsense and costumes and know yourself to have a penchant for worshiping cheese sandwiches on a whim... you might want to avoid Halloween. Other than that, though, I don't see a problem. I like horror/scifi/fantasy movies/books, but I don't think for a moment that any of it is real. :)

LE: Wow such compelling statements, I found them fascinating! You have very smart FB friends. Way to stir up yet another discussion Katie! LOL!

Me: My original point is that churches shouldn't do trunk or treat to have an alternative for 'their' kids so they don't feel left out. We wouldn't create alternatives for other things our kids shouldn't do. Christianity isn't have whatever you want, do whatever you want. Christianity is sacrificing those things that are off the path for the greater things at the end of the path. Now, CP raises a good point. Christians should be out their representing Christ. However, most Christians who celebrate the holiday aren't out there representing; they're going about the traditions just like everyone else with no mention of Christ or His message. Trunk or treat can be a great outreach tool, if that's how it's designed. The problem is most are just alternatives so our kids have a 'safe' place to do what their friends and classmates are doing. I take issue with churches doing anything to keep their people from feeling left out. We coddle our members and tell them their sins are okay because they're okay, when what we should tell them is they're okay IN SPITE OF their sins. We refuse to tell anyone they are in violation of God's word because we wouldn't want to alienate them or hurt their feelings. As long as correction is done in love, it's what we SHOULD be doing for our brothers and sisters in Christ, with God's leading. Now, I've gotten off track here. I don't want anyone to think I said they're sinning by celebrating halloween. The truth is, I want churches, in particular, to look at their motivation for getting involved in what is an occult holy day, no matter how you paint it.

DE: Ohhh, Katie!!!! :)

Me: Patronize all you want, but this is a strong belief that started forming when I was just a kid. When a kid has a gut feeling something is bad, you take heart.

DM: Many churches began alternate trick or treating for the children, to keep them safe from the crazies who put things in their candy and apples, like razor blades and needles. After that, people had to go to hospitals and have their candy x-rayed. Churches are a safe haven for a fun time. We also provide it in our nursing homes so they can see the little ones all dressed up. They can't wait to see them each year and to give them candy. Actually, the kids learn the art of giving as they bring goodies for my seniors instead and don't ask for anything in return. They learn about the elderly, not to be afraid of them and in turn give back to their community in years to come. They do the same thing at Christmas and sing to my elderly and give them hand-made cards. What a blessing little children are!!! Thank you Jesus for giving them the hearts of innocence and the understanding the gift of giving.

CH: We were involved with a parish that did trunk or treat, but the kids dressed up like saints. Of course, we also had Halloween parties where the kids dressed up like more scandalous things... like Spiderman and Harry Potter and pretty princesses and whatnot. It is what you make it, though. You can turn your Christmas tree and Easter eggs into pagan symbolism if you like. I know it's not PC to say it, but this is the kind of bologna that makes my skin crawl about evangelicals and Jehovah's Witnesses. Each to their own, I guess.
In a world full of real evil (war, murder, abortion, serial monogamy, usury, Monsanto), this kind of thing seems a little silly to me. Especially when I know this is the sort of thing the New Atheists love to trot out as proof that we Christians are a bunch of anal-retentive kooks. Jack Chick, the 700 Club, Bill Donahue and long laments over the War on Christmas probably aid the "conversion" of more atheists per year than Dawkins book sales. Not that Dawkins or Dennett would admit that sort of thing.

Me: I still maintain that Christians are one of the most persecuted, censored group in our country. Followed closely by the breastfeeding community. I will be the first to admit I lose all eloquence where Halloween is concerned. Therefore, let me lead you to people who feel as I do who can form a coherent statement.

CH: I won't disagree with you that people are obnoxious about Christianity and motherhood and most things that require faith, charity, responsibility, etc. There are so many vile things said about Christians and Christianity on a daily basis that doing so almost seems trite. Ask me about the local atheist meetup and their $200 stick figure chicken sometime... There are a lot of Christians that take the whole mess with a lot of grace. I respect that. That people like Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete (and many others) can sit down and respectfully have a chat with someone as vile and repulsive as Christopher Hitchens without thwacking him over the head with something speaks volumes for the Christian faith. Pick your battles, I guess is my opinion on the matter. There are more important battles than Halloween when the very fabric of Western culture is being torn apart. There are people demanding that Free Will is a silly religious notion, that we should take "aggressive action" to reduce the human population, abuses happening on a scale to people in the third world on levels that would make Hitler blush... Christianity has bigger fish to fry than this.

DE: Ohhh, Katie - hear you go again. Gotta give you credit for sticking to your beliefs (guns - lol) at every turn. I am not patronizing you just wondering how you can be so young and full of live and yet so old and dispirited. You know the written word is subject to the readers' interpretations and often misunderstood. I have been on both sides of that misunderstanding so I know. I agree let's call it quits. Sports, breastfeeding, Halloween, etc. just let be and continue to just be FB friends, sharing every day events that pertain to each of you, some will be enjoyed, some will be frowned upon but at least we are communicating. Although a little heated discussion never really hurt anyone!!!

Me: I stand up for those, too, but I have to protect my family first.

CH: Ever heard of the phrase "don't sweat the small stuff"? That's really what comes to mind here. Each to their own, but really. Bigger fish, man. Way bigger fish than this...

Me: I'm not dispirited. I'm looking out for the welfare of children. Rust only needs a tiny scratch to corrode an entire sword. We don't fight only the battles we can win; we fight the battles that need fighting. you guys are posting faster than i am. lol. the small stuff eats away subtly.

DE: OK - OK White flag - I surrender. I do have to agree with CH though ~ way bigger fish...

Me: you know, i get made fun of and challenged on my bigger fish, too, so i'll just keep doing what i'm doing. "There are really no nonessentials in the Christian's life. Our character building will be full of peril while we underrate the importance of the little things." ~E.G.White

JM: I love the arguments on Katie's wall. But I am staying out of this one. :)

DE: This just proves when it comes beliefs and opinions there are no winners

At what point, though, do we acknowledge that it's a slippery slope, and securing only the big boulders does not prevent a landslide?  CH said, "Pick your battles... There are more important battles than Halloween when the very fabric of Western culture is being torn apart."  I believe that slowly letting go of these little battles is what's causing the little tears in "the very fabric of Western culture" that are allowing it to tear apart.

So, what now?  Do we stand on opposite sides of the line as Christians who believe differently, or do some of us cross the line to join the majority and hope we're not compromising something small but important?  We only know if we ask God.

"Do not ask the Lord to guide your footsteps, if you are not willing to move your feet."
- Anonymous

Here are the resources that were mentioned in the discussion:
http://www.answers2pray...er.org/bible_questions/Answers/tradition/halloween.html (this one's a tad dramatic, but many of the points are good)http://www.libertytothecaptives.net/christianity_today_halloween_gusto.html

Update: I originally felt like God corrected my position on Halloween.  But something still didn't feel right.  Now that it has been a few months, I believe God was correcting my approach.  I don't want to alienate anyone in the way I discuss controversial issues.  I still believe Christians shouldn't celebrate Halloween.  I still believe Trunk or Treat is not an acceptable church event.  I do believe Christians should be more active in Halloween from an evangelical angle.

Here is a great post from Happy Home Fairy.

What do you think is a good evangelical activity for Halloween?

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