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An Open Letter About Halloween

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2012 Oct 31

Posted by Jim_Daly Oct 30, 2012

Peanuts creator Charles Schulz made a habit of dispensing advice through the mouths of cartoon characters, especially the blanket-carrying Linus van Pelt. 

Like any offering of counsel, some of it is to be heeded and some of it is not.

“There are three things you must never discuss with people,” the comic strip’s philosopher/theologian once said, “religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.”

Since we regularly wade into the first two topics anyway, we might as well go for broke and address the latter.

Sort of.

The traditions surrounding October 31st conjure up many good memories for me. Over the years, my wife and I have chosen to allow our sons to engage in the innocent and harmless side of Halloween. They enjoy dressing up in positive-themed costumes (Captain America, for example) and going trick-or-treating around the neighborhood.

I understand that Halloween is a hot topic with many Christians, and understandably so. With its admittedly pagan and creepy origins, involving druids, ghosts and goblins, many choose to either ignore it altogether or amend it in order to have it better complement their convictions.

I take no issue with either side and respect the strongly held perspectives in both camps.

Instead, I want to address the broader culture concerning the holiday.

Here are my thoughts:

Christian or not, it is high time to turn away from the dark, gory and horror-filled side of the holiday. It’s always been time, but the confluence of culture and recent current events raises this matter to a new level.

There is absolutely nothing entertaining or redeeming about hatchet-wielding villains parading in costume or front-lawn displays featuring blood-spattered body parts.

Some might suggest I need to lighten up and relax, to not take intended fantasy so seriously. 

“It is all just a joke,” they say. “It isn’t real.”

Or is it?

Those people who press will have to forgive me. My family and I live, pray and play in Colorado. Just a few days ago police arrested a 17-year-old for murdering and dismembering a 10-year-old girl. Parts of her body were reportedly found in the murderer’s house.

How can hearts break in two at such horrific news – and yet grow indifferent to the sight of a ghoulish Halloween display just blocks away?

There is nothing “fun” about a sinister-looking character, strapped from head to toe with plastic automatic rifles, casing the streets – even with a bag full of candy in hand on Halloween night.

You’ll remember that it was earlier this summer that a young man, who allegedly called himself the “Joker,” burst into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and opened fire, injuring over 50 people and killing 13.

It seems that life is increasingly imitating “art” these days – but it’s too often the heinous kind, not the glorious or good.

Evil has been on the loose since the beginning of time, and dispensing with evil-themed Halloween traditions won’t change the reality of a broken world.

I get it.

But can’t we agree that it’s unwise and unhealthy to embrace wickedness in any fictitious form?

As a culture we can find common ground with parents of every creed concerning the need to lift up the good and turn away from macabre traditions. 

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