It doesn't come as a surprise that an elder in a Reformed Baptist Church is not a fan of Halloween.
Some churches with active youth work offer Halloween alternatives like Light and Superhero Parties. This can be great in giving young people a fun night out (so they don't feel Christian parents are cheating them of a good time), whilst avoiding some of the unhealthy spiritual influences of a "festival" (if it can be called that) that seems to celebrate darkness.
There are definitely dangerous undertones to what is for Neo-Pagans one of the most important nights of the year. Perhaps I'll write a later blog post about Horror books and films as a genre (Surprising reveal: I'm not necessarily against them*), but speaking personally, it's not the "Fright Night" associations with pagan religion that I most dislike about Halloween.
What I most hate about Halloween isn't the tackiness for tackiness' sake, but because the disposable-plastic-decoration-tackiness of Halloween is so shockingly wasteful. People have been manipulated into the tasteless celebration of something with no significant historical attachment in our society, purely so that certain companies can make money off them.
All-Saints Day is still celebrated, rightly or wrongly, by many Christians, and Halloween** was a night of preparation for that. As mentioned above, October 31st is celebrated by Pagan people today. But neither group celebrates it in the way popular society celebrates it. It's been concocted by manufacturers of tat to sell us rubbish not worth keeping past the 1st November. We willingly enslave ourselves to the worship of Mammon (Money - see Matthew 6:24), and in such a way that we continue to add to the destruction of our own planet. Mankind is the one creature on Earth who has been giving the responsibility of looking after the planet, and we're single-handedly destroying it.
However, it's be far too tempting to only pick on Halloween. It's an easy target.
Valentines' Day is still a good way off, but there's a certain, ostensibly "Christian" holiday coming off that probably outdoes Halloween by several orders of magnitude in terms of greed and waste...
Oh yes, this Halloween rant is a Christmas rant in a black-and-orange pumpkin-mask disguise. The litter we generate might be a different colour, but Christmas has become a celebration of wanton waste and disposable detritus.
Just yesterday we got through the post a catalogue clearly meant for the buying of Christmas gifts: Novelty ice cube makers? We got 'em. Ironic mugs, t-shirts and hats? Oh yes. I could see the entire decline of Western civilisation epitomised in a feline-attention-grabbing mobile-phone attachment for taking cat selfies.
I wonder if archaeologists picking through the rubble of our civilisation in thousands of years' time would find this and assume it was a cultic object involved in the worship of our four-legged, be-whiskered overlords. They probably wouldn't be far wrong.
Society - with its bombardment of adverts on TV, radio, billboards and mountainous stacks of junk-mail, tells us to buy, buy, buy. There's a sense of obligation to buy useless garbage for people who feel indebted to return the favour. "Toilet Books***" are probably never as much in demand as in the months leading up to Christmas.
Whether it's Halloween or Christmas, Christians are not called to be conformed to the World's way of doing things - especially when that way celebrates destructive waste and the abuse of our planet. It means surrendering our free will and our money to multi-national corporations driven by their fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders.
Parents shouldn't feel guilty because they don't take their children trick-or-treating. Neither should they be considered negligent if they don't need to take out a mortgage to pay for their Christmas presents.
Christians are called to be transformed by the renewal of their minds (Romans 12:2). A good place to start is with our wallets. A good place to start is with what we buy, and the way in which we buy into any celebration the World thinks - or at least tells us - is important.
*All Christians ought to be more careful that we perhaps sometimes are in terms of the books and films we consume. Horror books and films often make light of serious spiritual matters or else revel in shock, violence, fear and grotesquery purely for a sense of fun. The flipside to this is that many horror films underline the genuine reality of evil that other films deny or ignore. In this way, horror films sometimes better represent a truly Biblical worldview (with errors, of course) than many supposedly "Christian" films.
**All-Hallows-Eve (as in, the evening before All-Saints/Hallows-Day) is where we get the word, "Halloween". All Saints Day is a celebration in some churches of all the Saints who didn't have their own Saint's day in the rest of the year - a kind of "Miscellaneous Saints'" Day. In some cultures and traditions, this is a time for remembering all dead Christians, especially family members. Here there are other dangers hidden - thanking God for the faithful witness of Christians now in glory can very quickly slip into ancestor worship and other practices associated with false religion.
***In case you're unaware of this wonderful genre, it's those kind of books you leave in the bathroom to read while sat on the toilet - novelty pun books and collections of brief, amusing anecdotes. Essentially, the kind of books you wouldn't want to read anywhere else.