What About Halloween?

My post at Speculative Faith yesterday was a reprisal of an article I first posted here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction more than two years ago. One commenter asked about the original piece I alluded to that had spurred my thoughts. So this morning I went to work with Google search (did you know you can customize the dates of your search? I just learned that today 😀 ).

In the process of hunting down the article that said disparaging things about C. S. Lewis, fantasy, and Narnia, I came across a host of other similar pieces. It was a little daunting.

One was written by a man who referred to himself as a former witch. He explained in some depth what certain scenes or lines from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe meant to those steeped in witchcraft.

Because of his past experience, I admit, I gave him much more latitude than some of the others. One woman said she’d been a Christian only five years when she saw the same book on the shelf of the library at her son’s Christian school and felt a “red flag” in her soul.

In case I haven’t admitted this here yet, I had a similar experience as a teacher. I saw a student reading a certain book (not one of the Narnia chronicles), and a “red flag” went up. The problem was, I was completely and utterly wrong. The book was not what I feared. At all.

But back to C. S. Lewis. The point that both these bloggers, and others I ran across, were missing is C. S. Lewis’s beliefs about myth. He loved myth before he became a Christian, and one of the tipping points in his conversion was a realization that Christianity told the True myth, that all the others were shadows of the Real story—hints, suggestions, partials, not the Complete. More than that, he believed that the True story redeemed all the other partials.

Consequently, Bacchus, a pagan figure used to symbolize winebibbing, among other things, when redeemed became an example of reveling in God’s creative work, His generous provision. He represented joy and laughter and celebration as God intended.

What does this have to do with Halloween? While I was running an errand (do we still say running when we drive? 😉 ), I was listening to a Christian radio station and the announcer or speaker (you can tell how closely I was listening) mentioned a pamphlet (I think) that discusses Halloween and magic. (Here’s where I became attentive).

Halloween, he said, is second only to Christmas for kids, but it is much more than dressing up and getting candy. This pamphlet would explain the pagan origins of the holiday and the meaning of much of what’s behind the celebration.

So there I was, thinking the people opposed to Narnia and these people peeking into the history of Halloween are thinking the same way. They’re thinking where it came from, not what God could make it.

I understand the Halloween issue from both sides. I grew up believing it was an innocent (though rather stupid) dress up day when you got candy. After all, witches were pretend and so were ghosts (my first costume was an old sheet with eye, nose, and mouth holes cut out).

But I also understand from the other side because I taught at a Christian school that had a strict policy against promoting Halloween. And the rationale was to keep kids from dwelling on the all-too-real dark arts that were fast making inroads in the culture.

Here’s my conclusion. This is a genuine, Biblical gray area. Some people really are in jeopardy because of their understanding and/or past involvement with paganism. For me to pooh-pooh where they are and to tell them how silly it is for them to be afraid of the pretend world of make-believe, is wrong. For them, putting on a witch mask may be too close to reality.

So if I’m right, and celebrating Halloween is a gray area, how then am I to behave? And what does all this have to do with reading books like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? I’ll try to address those questions next time, but please feel free to voice your opinions in the interim.

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