Lately, I’ve noticed that something is different. Things I used to enjoy no longer bring me pleasure, and in fact, leave me feeling uneasy and sometimes even defiled. Has the world changed that much, or is it me? Or is it just that I have changed in my perception of what is acceptable?
Last week, we took the kids to Disneyland while on our vacation in California. We happily walked up to an attraction that has been at Disneyland as long as I can remember. The Haunted Mansion was decked out in some new displays in honor of the upcoming holiday…Halloween. It was renamed “A Haunted Mansion Holiday” and had a new storyline. While we were waiting in the entryway (which appears to elongate and take you down into the depths of the mansion), a story was told about Halloween colliding with Christmas. It was a “Grinch who stole Christmas” type of story, with a character named “Jack” who came to ruin Christmas. People were laughing and pointing as we traveled through the mansion in “doom buggies” and watching as Christmas packages opened to reveal skulls and other scary fare.
All through the ride, which I’ve previously enjoyed many times (although without the added Halloween twist), I felt a coldness in my spirit. Watching “ghosts” travel around and seeing an animated head purportedly telling the future, I seemed unable to laugh. Looking around at the darkness and the portrayal of a spirit world, it struck me. Here was yet another instance of the world taking something dark and vile and turning it into entertainment for the masses. I could only look around and picture a laughing Satan and his henchmen, rubbing their hands with glee as unsuspecting people were taught to view something scary and evil as light and fluffy entertainment. It felt somehow sinister to me, like there was something roiling just under the surface that no one could see.
In the last couple of years, I’ve come to view Halloween much the same way. In previous years, we participated in Halloween, allowing our children to dress up in costumes and trick-or-treat in the neighborhood, without thinking too much of it. Then a few years ago, a friend gave us a pamphlet to read detailing the origins of this holiday. Halloween has its origins in the religion of Druidism, which is a pagan religion involving worship of evil spirits, particularly those believed to dwell within trees. As we learned more about this, we began to feel more uncomfortable with this holiday and whether or not it was appropriate for Christians. Finally, last year, as a family, we made a joint decision to no longer participate in this event. It gave me much peace to make a break with this tradition, feeling that we could no longer participate in it with a clear conscience. Even though I had previously viewed those who wanted nothing to do with Halloween as “extreme”, I now count myself among their number. The Bible is very clear about our having absolutely nothing to do with the occult (Deuteronomy 18:9-13). How can we claim to be Christians and then participate in a night that glorifies Satan?
In the same way, I’ve noticed that movies or books I enjoyed in the past now leave me with a bad taste in my mouth…particularly if we have chosen to share them with our children. Several times lately, Alan and I have rented a movie that we remembered enjoying as children, only to be appalled at the content when we tried to watch it with our kids. Movies that I remember seeing (sometimes more than once) as a child, and which were billed as family movies, are full of profanity and other unwholesome material. I’ve been surprised several times, as I don’t remember that being true (and I know that my parents were very careful what we watched). Obviously, the movies haven’t changed in the last 30 years, so it must be…me. I guess my ears are more sensitive to the sounds of foul language or the Lord’s name being taken in vain. I find myself more aware of the spiritual content as well, such as my recent experience at Disneyland’s “Haunted Mansion”. Maybe you’ll think I’m just turning into an old fuddy-duddy, but I think there’s more to it.
I’ve started to see that we gradually become coated with thick, hardened layers of shell the longer we are exposed to the world. It dulls our senses to what is impure and we are unable to even notice when things are not as they should be. Lately, I feel like God is patiently peeling off those layers, one by one, and leaving my sensitive inner soul exposed to the foulness of the world. In some ways, this is good, as it makes me more aware of the world’s influence on me and on my children. At the same time, though, this is painful, as it makes me feel like a foreigner in my own land…uncomfortable with all that I see around me. Maybe that’s what God is trying to teach me.
For more information about Halloween, please visit Ben Alexander’s website: http://www.espministries.com/topic_halloween.html
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