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86. How Can Christians Fight Halloween’s Deathly Flippancy and Dark Magic?

Halloween can promote good gifts like fall and fandom, yet its decor can also make light of serious death, suffering, or dark magic.
Fantastical Truth on Nov 2, 2021 · 3 comments

Should Christians celebrate Halloween? What if we call it a “harvest festival”? We’ve all heard the jokes, but whether we engage or escape the thing, we must take seriously how our neighbors perceive the occasion. Right down to our lawn decor, Halloween’s trappings can encourage us to celebrate good things like fall and fandom. But these things can also provoke us into flippant mockery of death, self-distraction from real suffering, and ignorance of dark magic. And that’s truly horrible. So yes, even if we dress up and distribute candy, let’s hurl light against this darkness.

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Concession stand

  • We’ll not get into the Druids and false gods and all of that (at least not yet).
  • We’re well aware of biblical freedom, yet that’s not our focus at this time.
  • Stephen mentions Harry Potter more positively; the negatives will have to wait.
  • See Stephen’s recent article for more disclaimers (that inspired this episode):
  • See also the older SpecFaith article “Flippancy Kills Stories.”
  • In fact, we must start with this Screwtape quote about flippancy.

1. Halloween can make light of death’s darkness.

The Screwtape Letters, C. S. LewisI prefer C. S. Lewis’s understanding [of the word flippancy] as voiced in The Screwtape Letters. In letter 11 the demonic uncle/undersecretary Screwtape expounds on human humor. Ever the philosopher about everything, Screwtape classifies humor in four categories:

  1. Joy
  2. Fun
  3. The Joke Proper
  4. Flippancy

—from “Flippancy Kills Stories” on SpecFaith

From C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters:

But flippancy is the best [devilish use of humor] of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny. Among flippant people the joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it.

If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour-plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter. It is a thousand miles away from joy: it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practise it.

2. Halloween may mock the resurrection with gross parodies.

  • Vampires are Satanic counterfeits of immortal reigning saints.
  • Zombies are gross perversions of resurrected humans walking Earth
  • Skeletons deny the biblical reality of fully restored Spirit-powered people.

3. Halloween might distract us from confronting real horrors.

  • This includes not just the pandemic fears (as mentioned in Stephen’s article).
  • But also legit dark magic, either occult or increasing Sexualityism paganism.
  • Reference the evil Twix ad, and other conflations of witchcraft and sexuality.

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  • Follow us on the socials: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
  • What amazing books have you read this year? Let us know.
  • Share your favorite methods of engaging Halloween (if you do).
Fantastical Truth
Fantastical Truth

Lorehaven explores fantastical stories for God's glory: fantasy, sci-fi, and beyond.

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    In the Fantastical Truth podcast from Lorehaven, hosts E. Stephen Burnett and Zackary Russell explore fantastical stories for God's glory and apply their wonders to the real world Jesus calls us to serve.
    1. notleia says:

      Flippancy or (somewhat literal) gallows humor? Surely you can be allowed a bit of gallows humor about your own inevitable demise? I have made jokes about my present and future niblings inheriting my earthly wealth of poorly managed piles of yarn once the authorities find my cat-nibbled corpse.

      And what do you have against skeletons, Stephen? I’m starting to worry about your own skeleton. I would also argue that the meat’s scarier than the skeleton.

      I’m starting to think I need to repost Goth Ms Frizzle’s video about the fear of death. Are you afraid of death, or are you afraid of suffering or the loss of control over your body?

      Re: Choice of Blades. Ugh, the preppers have discovered isekai. You know why Walking Dead ended up sucking? Because the prepper aesthetic (I’m using “prepper” as a catch-all term) can’t imagine itself beyond the sort of questionable rugged-individual masculinity that can’t make or sustain communities and the story just repeats itself in a boring limbo where no character arc can progress. Like, bruhs, humans dumped all their skill points in cooperation, why would you choose a gameplay style that negates your build’s major strengths?

      Bonus OT spoopiness: Organ music!

    2. My parents were more in line with the idea that horror is bad and that many aspects of Halloween glorify messed up things. As a kid I tended to agree with them because I didn’t like the particular kind of fear horror gave me, and I preferred the Fall Festivals over trick or treating anyway. But as an adult I have a more complex view. There are many different types of horror, and many ways people engage with the genre, so it’s not just a matter of people reveling in slasher gore for bad reasons. It’s still not my favorite holiday or genre, but now and then I can enjoy certain stories even when they’re technically labeled ‘horror’.

      Another thing to note is that people say we should always avoid scary stories because God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but a lot of people avoid horror BECAUSE they don’t know how to handle fear. I’m not at all saying that people NEED to engage with horror, but people should probably ask themselves if they’re facing, understanding, and overcoming their fears — or merely avoiding them to make themselves feel better.

      It’s probably not healthy to flippantly label things as flippant, either. My family always decorated for Fall, never Halloween. But now and then my Dad and I would joke about what phrase or saying we would put on our gravestones. Mine was ‘I tried.’ Maybe people would hear our jokes and assume we were being flippant about our own deaths, but we weren’t. Our gravestone phrases have a lot of layers of meaning to them that are important to us as individuals. From my comments about what the Peter Pan story meant to me, it should be clear that I do take death seriously. But even though I joke about saying ‘I tried’ on my gravestone, it’s not said just to be funny. It’s also venting some of my own sadness and bitterness about certain things. Humor is often a communication tool, and a lot of comedians talk about things in their performances precisely BECAUSE the issue is important to them.

      I’m the kind of person that can easily get accused of being overly serious at times, but often enough we face problems when we are constantly forced to deal with serious issues in a serious manner. Recently I was listening to one comedian, and he pointed out how tense everything was getting and saying that we need to let some of the air out of the balloon, so to speak. He was noting how much we were at each others’ throats after 2020 and kind of making the point that it’s only going to get worse if we don’t calm down and defuse some of the tension. And one of the main functions of humor is to defuse that kind of dangerous tension.

      Humor is very easy for people to misinterpret, though, especially now days. A lot of times when people hear laughter in proximity to something they care about, they automatically assume that someone is being hateful or disregarding something serious. People often get angry instead of listening to the point that is actually being made. So we should be careful when assuming someone’s attitude and reasons for things. Driving by people’s lawn ornaments doesn’t give us the whole picture of their view on death, just as an individual performance from a comedian doesn’t necessarily tell us their entire view on life.

    3. I haven’t had much time to read a lot of regular novels lately, but I did preorder Of Fire And Ash by Gillian Bronte Adams and look forward to reading it soon. It’s been a while since I’ve read a good fantasy story where the human society in question centers on fantasy horses, so I’m looking forward to it.

    What say you?