Guest essay: Dave Gipson ... Children of the (candy) corn

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Dave Gipson, Naples Pastor, Legacy Church of Naples

I have to confess I’ve always loved Halloween. The decorations, dressing up, the smell of pumpkins as a candle burned inside — these were some of the best days of childhood.

Running through neighbor’s yards, the fall leaves crunching under my shoes as I tried to sneak up and startle friends — what a blissful freedom our kids miss today! Remembering when innocence could wander the streets in safety without fear in the autumn night seems like fairy tale in our fearful, predatory culture now.

So it surprised me when I first heard Christians attacking the idea of children participating in Halloween. When I was a kid we all dressed up in silly costumes, got free candy and dentists worldwide were guaranteed a steady income for another year — what’s so bad about that?

But now you go by some believers’ homes on Oct. 31, and you’ll find the house dark (and not for spooky effect).

Eventually I was educated that by participating we were actually worshipping Satan, because Halloween was originally a satanic celebration. The only problem is the history on this is murky at best. It seems the term Halloween may have actually sprung from the term “Holy Evening” when Christian martyrs and the dearly departed were remembered, much like our Memorial Day. So the argument that it is tainted by its origin cannot be fully reliable.

But beyond all this, to worship Satan I would pretty much have to intend to do it. A date on the calendar can hardly be considered unholy in itself, but it’s the significance I give that date which matters. Dec. 7, 1941 and Sept. 11 might be remembered by our enemies with jubilance, but we remember the dates to honor our brave heroes.

So if all you are doing is dressing up and getting candy, you are most likely not in danger of losing your eternal soul. Call me capricious, but I can pretty much guarantee your little Billy or Suzie’s head will not be spinning around anytime soon just because they dressed up as Iron Man or a Disney Princess this year.

I remember going to one fall festival at a church where I was the youth pastor — these are the Halloween alternatives that churches often do to counteract the evils of Halloween. All the kids where strictly warned to only wear biblical costumes, which pretty much means your dad’s bathrobe, a large walking stick, and a towel wrapped around your head. I always worried which kid might figure out that Satan and Rahab the Prostitute were both legitimate biblical characters as well. Instead, everyone looked the same, and the kids longed for the moment they could ditch the bathrobe and hit the streets for some real fun.

Christians have become experts at these “boy who cried wolf” public warnings. Harry Potter came out, and it was going to make all our kids witches and warlocks, even though that same “magic” was prevalent in “The Wizard of Oz’’ and “Narnia Chronicles.’’ Before that, Disney was bad because some of their employees had objectionable lifestyles. And then Pokemons were New Age, and one of the Teletubbies was “in the closet.”

Give me a break.

You may think my attitude in all this is somewhat cavalier, and I probably would agree with you. That’s not because I don’t believe in evil, or in Satan — in fact I believe both are very real. But I think we are wasting all our ammo on clay pigeons while crows are raiding the cornfield.

Lots of stories in the news recently about kids killing themselves over bullying, aren’t there? And there was another school shooting this past week — did you notice? For some reason, I can’t remember these things happening when I was a chubby little boy, often teased for my weight and lack of athleticism. It was hard to be a kid sometimes. But not like this.

Something is desperately wrong, and it has nothing to do with Oct. 31.

These are just a few of the things that “go bump in the night” today. The real monsters are lurking just down the block, in the playground, or behind our own front doors. Compared to these, Halloween is for amateurs.

But to all my brethren at war with Oct. 31, how about we take all that time and energy and fight the real evils at work around us?

By the way, if you come to my house next week, I won’t be dressed as a shepherd and yes, there will be candy!

Legacy Church meets at Naples’ Gulfview Middle School; LegacyChurch.com.

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