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A few years back, our local Christian radio station ran a poll asking whether Halloween is spiritually harmful. The response from a predominantly evangelical audience here in Ohio was two-to-one against Halloween. This did not surprise me. It is now popular in some Christian circles to repudiate any celebration of All Hallows Eve—Halloween.

"We all know what day is coming," said a young woman in the choir of the Rhode Island church my wife and I attended when I was working on my doctorate. "And I think we need to be in prayer that the evil powers and principalities be held in check over this next weekend." Halloween fell on a Sunday that year, making the event seem all the more sinister. On the calendar of events for the Christian college where I teach, October 31 sits in a dark square with no acknowledgment that there is anything special about the date.

"It's Satan's Holiday, Dr. Rearick," affirmed one of my students. "Didn't you know?"

Well, no, I didn't know. And I am reluctant to give up what was one of the highlights of my childhood calendar to the Great Impostor and Chief of Liars for no reason except that some of his servants claim it as his.

Give up nothing

I have always considered Halloween a day to celebrate the imagination, to become for a short time something wonderful and strange, smelling of grease paint, to taste sweets that are permissible only once a year. How wonderful to be with other children dressed up as what they might grow up to be, what they wished they could be, or even what they secretly feared. All of us, dreams and nightmares, were brought together on equal footing, going from door to door to be given treats and admired for our creativity. How delightful to go to parties with doughnuts, apples, brown ...

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In the Magazine

October 2, 2000

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