Sunday, October 30, 2011

Coming this Monday: Halloween

Tomorrow is October 31, 2011. It's significant, more or less, is several ways. It's:
  • A Monday
    • The day between Sunday and Tuesday
  • The last day of October
    • Time to flip to November
      • Since I've got a 12-month calendar by my desk
  • Halloween
    • Also called
      • Hallowe'en
      • Allhallows Eve
    • The evening before All Saints' Day
    • Often devoted to pranks played by young people
      (Princeton's WordNet)
I've got a few problems with how some folks act around Halloween: but this post isn't a rant about how awful the holiday is.

Satanic Plots by the Bushel

As I've said before, I grew up in an area infested with radio preachers: the sort who threw Bible trivia, numerology, and the end times prophecy du jour into a blender - and hit 'puree.'

These painfully pious folks seemed to be awfully good at hating things. And, sometimes, people. They also had a habit of identifying what they didn't like as "Satanic." As I recall, a short list of "Satanic" plots and influences often included:
  • Women wearing slacks
  • Rock and Roll
  • Commies
  • Catholics
  • New technology
Then there was my favorite, from just a few decades back: a fellow on national radio, complaining about "the effete habit" of men growing beards. You can't make that kind of thing up.

Don't get me wrong. Satan is quite real. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 391-395) But that doesn't mean that everything I'm turned off by is "Satanic." Or that God's eternal law is strangely similar to the cultural mores and musical tastes of a particular American subculture, ca. 1945-55.

With Friends Like These - - -

I don't doubt the sincerity of folks who really believe that the latest 'end times prophecy' will finally get it right. By the way, we're due to read about Harold Camping's new-and-improved Apocalypse prediction in November.

I also don't doubt that, in their own way, they're trying to follow Jesus the Christ: that they're Christians. But the recurring shenanigans are sometimes downright embarrassing for the rest of us.

Unintended Consequences

Ever been around, when someone didn't keep a blender's lid on tight? That sort of food processor performance art is a pretty good metaphor for the weird version of Christianity I learned about on the radio - and sometimes face-to-face.

Happily, my parents were sensible folks, and went to a nice, normal, American mainstream Protestant church. Just the same, those nut jobs encouraged me to take a long, hard, look at religions. Eventually I became a Catholic. I'm quite certain that's not what the folks ranting about the "Whore of Babylon" and the Communist menace had in mind.

Everybody's Different

One reason I like being Catholic is that we're not expected to be poor imitations of some arbitrary 'real Christian.'

Even "identical" twins aren't quite identical, and God made each of the 7,000,000,000 or so folks alive today - including the 1,100,000,000 (give or take) Catholics - as one-of-a-kind individuals. It's that one body - many members thing. (1 Corinthians 12)

I've posted about being part of a Church that's literally catholic before:

Broken Pumpkins, Broken Lives, and Getting a Grip

I'm not happy about the smashed pumpkins I see this time of year. But I don't let myself get too upset about the matter. It's a small problem, on at least two scales.

Judging from the fraction of each year's Halloween decorations that get vandalized, there can't be all that many folks who get their jollies by ruining jack-o-lanterns. It's hardly what I'd call an 'epidemic:' But then I'm not a news editor trying to pump up circulation.

Besides, the waste in resources is fairly minimal. Even in these difficult economic times, I have trouble imagining that a household will be wiped out because pumpkin rinds landed on the front sidewalk.

Compared to problems like drug addiction, disordered marital relationships, or threats to freedom, smashed pumpkins just don't stack up.

I suppose I could try to be conventionally distressed about all those awful costumes people wear, or how orange and black aren't 'nice' colors. The fact is, I *like* the occasionally-silly artwork we see this time of year:

These folks were ready early (The sign on the left says, "Treats Inside (tricks optional)." October 11, 2007.

Windy day: good thing those decorations were firmly attached. October 31, 2007.

Halloween yard decorations: with crash landing
These folks did a nice job. That looks like a serious crash landing. October 20, 2007.

My household doesn't do yard decorations very much, but I like to come up with some 'holiday' art. Like these, from 2007 and 2010:

The way I see it, none of the commandments say we're supposed to be 'sour saints.' I figure that there's quite enough grimness around: and that a bit of humor is okay.

The Decalog doesn't say "go have fun," either: possibly because that isn't the sort of thing most folks have to be ordered to do. It'd be like being ordered to breathe.

And that's another topic.

Vaguely-related posts:


Brigid said...

I don't think that comma belongs there: "prophecy du jour, into a blender"

Missing a word: "You can't that kind of thing up."

Missing an ending single quote: "supposed to be 'sour saints. I figure"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

P.S. You know, once in a while, some people do need to be reminded to breath.

Brian Gill said...


Oops. Fixed, and thanks!

And, yeah: Your mom has done that for me a few times. ;)

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.