November 1, 2014

364 Days Until Jesus Ween

I'm Not Going Back Outside Till November!
I'm Not Going Back Outside Till November! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
November 1 is always such a sad day, as the realization that we must wait a whole year for the return of Jesus Ween sets in. You'd think I would have it out of my system by now, but that never seems to happen.

In the chaotic run-up to Jesus Ween this year (deciding what white outfit I would wear and where I could grab a bag of cheap bibles), I missed Maxwell Grant's post at Religion Dispatches, "Trick or...Bible: Christians Coping with Halloween." I'm not familiar with Grant, but he is identified as a United Church of Christ pastor in Connecticut.

In his post, he describes evangelical Christians' long-running fear and dislike for Halloween and reviews some of the ways they have attempted to deal with the holiday. To my delight, these included Jesus Ween.
The idea is simple: instead of wearing a costume, wear white (the color of righteousness); when someone greets you with “Trick or treat,” respond with “Jesus Loves You”; and if you want to drop candy in the bag, feel free, but drop a small Bible in that bag while you’re at it.
So, it is okay to hand out candy with the bibles?. Damn! I wish I had known that before last night. Just giving out bibles did not go over so well.

Grant does not seem particularly fond of Jesus Ween, noting "The whole thing has 'Ned Flanders' written all over it." He suggests that it has been very slow to catch on, and this certainly does seem to be the case. I eagerly monitored the Twitter hashtag #JesusWeen this year and was disappointed by how little activity I saw there.

According to Grant, Christian dislike for Halloween has been around a long time and is unlikely to go away anytime soon.
Not for nothing, many would say that it’s a perennial challenge for Christians to reconcile the claims (and cultural narratives) of faith and those of their surrounding communities in any age.
Agreed. It is easy (and highly entertaining) to focus on the evangelical Christian condemnations of Halloween as Satanic, but it is important to remember that nearly anything that conflicts with their preferred superstitions will be regarded that way. Sadly, this often includes many aspects of modernity for which the rest of us are grateful. Remember, Christian extremism is defined, in part, by opposition to modernity.

At the end of his post, Grant seems to say that as a father he is all for trying to neuter Halloween and "keep evil pleasantly fictional by insulting ourselves from the fact that it is not." He says this even as he seems to recognize that such efforts will likely be ineffective. This makes it sound as if he is advocating self-delusion of some sort (i.e., he knows it won't work but supports it anyway). But in fairness, Grant also seems to acknowledge that reminders of what he believes about Jesus don't quite cut it.

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