It was Halloween last night and, for once, we enjoyed a quiet evening. No rings of the doorbell at all. The chocolates on the shelf by the front door remained unclaimed.
I can’t say I’m sorry. To be honest I find the whole thing a bit sickening. Why would anybody in their right mind – especially a Christian – want to encourage a fixation with horror, ghosts, werewolves, witches, vampires, skulls and corpses? It is all thoroughly unhealthy. Yes, I know that for many kids it’s just a chance to dress up and collect a few goodies from the neighbours. But it’s potentially the thin end of the wedge, to be followed for some by more serious involvement in the occult, obsession and petrifying fear.
The commercial aspect stinks, too. In my childhood nobody had ever heard of Halloween. It was always bigger in America, of course, and in time British companies realised that here was another chance to make an annual killing. Today the supermarkets are laden with ghoulish costumes and other spooky haberdashery. Whole farms have gone over to pumpkin production.
The BBC couldn’t miss out either. On 31st October the TV featured news items on the rise of paganism and showed footage of modern-day witches prancing about in fields wearing cloaks, muttering to the spirits of the trees and talking about the spells they make each morning to protect their children when they send them off to school.
All this stuff lies at the opposite extreme from the glorious truth that has come to us in Jesus Christ. He is light, and life, and love. He is a million miles from the dark and scary stuff that forms the core of Halloween. Never the twain should meet. I’d like to see Halloween fizzle out completely.
But in the meantime it’s likely to be around for some time. So I suppose we’ll continue to have the chocolates handy, and we’ll hand them out with a cheerful word – and a prayer that God will bless the kids on the doorstep.