Halloween – one Christian’s perspective

October 27, 2010 Categories: Holidays | 2 Comments  

On the way to drop the kids off at church for a Harvest Party tonight, my daughter’s friend said something about the roots of Halloween being pagan, and that’s why many Christians don’t celebrate. After talking to the kids about that statement and how true/not true it is, I was reminded of this:

This link is a pdf of Mars Hill Church‘s October newsletter from a few years back. There’s a great article on Halloween by Pastor James Harleman. He explains that everything we’ve been told about the satanic origins of the holiday isn’t necessarily true. Not that he finds much good about Halloween in general, either, but as Christians we should be making our decision regarding whether to celebrate or not as informed people, not just because we’ve heard “this-and-that” from “so-and-so”.

“One of the most interesting anecdotes I found in researching the history of Halloween is that the one activity many churches do engage in at replacement events like church “Harvest Festivals” is perhaps the one most easily linked to paganism. Bobbing or “Ducking” for apples was actually a divination ritual related to love and fertility.”

“As Christmas and Easter have overrun and co-opted various trappings, however, there is for Christians a clear, central focus on Jesus’ incarnation. Halloween may not be inherently evil, but it also has no central, specific focus on the Lord we love. Whether we see Halloween as pagan practices, Catholic traditions, or good old American, candy-coated commercialism, none of these offers great inspiration
to participate.

At Mars Hill Church, we don’t believe in the deities worshipped by the Celts or the rituals used to appease or
summon them. We do, however, recognize that there are evil spirits that confuse and lead people astray from relationship with the one true God. We recognize that the Bible calls all Christians “saints” and don’t believe in the Catholic extra-biblical concepts of sainthood or purgatory. Many of the ideas and rituals that have contributed to the Halloween mish-mash aren’t congruent with our beliefs. However, setting aside times to remember or honor those we love that have passed away (hopefully to be with our Savior Jesus) is
not a bad idea. On a less somber level, wearing Spider-man costumes, making funny faces on vegetables, and engaging in neighborhood activities where one can both give and receive hospitality is not something we oppose. Fictional fantasy tales of monsters and elves – even scary ones – are not wholly inappropriate either, whether punctuated on this particular weekend or sprinkled throughout the year in classic tales from authors including Tolkien and Lewis.

We regard Halloween as a second-hand issue and ask that every Christian examine their response to the modern-day Halloween celebration in our culture.”

“For those who have shunned Halloween because they were simply told it was evil, or for those who have participated and never bothered to weigh its appropriateness, your pastors would encourage the employment of godly wisdom, discernment, and a sense of our shared mission as Christians. Our abstinence
or participation in regard to Halloween should not be derived from fear, misinformation, or pressure but rather from a sincere love of Jesus; every response to our culture and its festivals is a way to point to the God we love and serve.

Lastly, for parents, don’t forget that gluttony is a sin. Careful not to force your kids to learn the hard way: lying on an altar of plastic wrap and tin-foil, holding their bulbous stomachs. If you participate in Halloween, it might be the perfect time to introduce the concept of moderation.”

The Halloween article is on page 14, and there’s also more great reading if you’ve got the time.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2009 Categories: Holidays | 1 Comment  

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A List of Praises
Anne Porter

Give praise with psalms that tell the trees to sing,
Give praise with Gospel choirs in storefront churches,
Mad with the joy of the Sabbath,
Give praise with the babble of infants, who wake with the sun,
Give praise with children chanting their skip-rope rhymes,
A poetry not in books, a vagrant mischievous poetry
living wild on the Streets through generations of children.

Give praise with the sound of the milk-train far away
With its mutter of wheels and long-drawn-out sweet whistle
As it speeds through the fields of sleep at three in the morning,
Give praise with the immense and peaceful sigh
Of the wind in the pinewoods,
At night give praise with starry silences.

Give praise with the skirling of seagulls
And the rattle and flap of sails
And gongs of buoys rocked by the sea-swell
Out in the shipping-lanes beyond the harbor.
Give praise with the humpback whales,
Huge in the ocean they sing to one another.

Read the entire poem here.

Featured DVD: Santa Buddies

November 24, 2009 Categories: Holidays , Movies | Comments Off  

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Disney’s irresistible talking puppies return in a heartwarming holiday adventure on Blu-ray with theater-quality picture and sound! Take a fantastic journey with your beloved Buddies to the magical world of the North Pole! Join Budderball, B-Dawg, Rosebud, Buddha and Mudbud in this classic Christmas tale that will have you believing in miracles. When Puppy Paws, the feisty son of Santa Paws, forgets the true meaning of the season, it’s up to the Buddies to remind him that the true meaning of Christmas spirit is about things you can’t wrap in a box or tie with a bow. Unleash a stockingful of Christmas cheer for you and your family with this fun-filled film, featuring never-before-seen bonus materials. It’s sure to be a holiday classic – especially in Blu-ray High Definition.

Noah’s review: Santa Buddies is probably the cutest of all the Buddies movies, because Tiny looks just perfect and had the perfect voice.

Jonathan’s review: It was a cute and very good movie. Everyone who watches it will think it’s great.

Josiah’s review: The Buddies series is a cute series. My favorite one was Snow Buddies cause I liked the cute little Husky – it was my favorite character. What I think is funny about Santa Buddies is that they call the dog catcher Mr. Scrooge.

Santa Buddies is available now on DVD.

Disclosure: Santa Buddies was provided to me by Click Communications for the purpose of review. The above link is an Amazon Affiliates link. If you click the link and subsequently purchase anything, I receive a small percentage.

Featured DVD: Veggie Tales: Saint Nicholas – A Story of Joyful Giving

November 8, 2009 Categories: Holidays , Movies | 2 Comments  

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Laura Carrot’s Christmas stocking might be empty this year because her dad is in danger of losing his job. While Larry thinks a letter to the North Pole should fix the problem, Bob knows what will really help…and tells the story of a little boy named Nicholas who made a discovery in Bethlehem that changed Christmas forever. But what did Nick learn and how can it possibly help Laura and her family? Find out as the Veggies discover the true joy of giving to others – at Christmas time and throughout the year!

The kids and I have been celebrating Christmas a bit early – at least in our DVD choices lately. We haven’t watched a Veggie Tales DVD in a long time, and I was a bit concerned the kids might have grown out of the funny, music-loving Veggies. They still seemed to enjoy this simple story, though, and I enjoyed the message that it promoted. This year’s Christmas will be one of the most difficult in a long time for a lot of people, thanks to our current economy. What better time to remember what Christmas is really about – and to learn that we can make Christmas a bit better for others by giving of ourselves.

Veggie Tales: St. Nicholas – A Story of Joyful Giving is available now on DVD. The DVD special features include: Give This Christmas Away, a music video featuring Matthew West and Amy Grant; a sing-along with Larry; a discussion guide; and a family activity.

(Disclosure: Veggie Tales: Saint Nicholas – A Story of Joyful Giving was provided to me by Special Ops Media for the purpose of review. The link in this post is an Amazon Affiliate link. If you click on the link and then purchase something, I receive a small percentage.)

Bullet points

October 30, 2009 Categories: Blogging , Curriculum , Holidays , Homeschooling , Writing | 2 Comments  

~ There is so much going on – I haven’t had much time to post here at Mommy Brain. I feel bad, but Books and Movies has to be more of a priority, because I’m getting free books to review in the mail every week.

~ No improvement on the financial front – enough said. Oh, and my van – which is our most reliable vehicle and the only one with a fully functioning heater – is in the shop today. Praying very hard that it is something easy and cheap to fix.

~ I switched Natalie to The History of US by Joy Hakim for her US history. She’s liking it much better. I’m dealing with the lack of review exercises/exams by having her write a summary paragraph after reading each chapter. So far, so good.

~ Kevin and the kids carved pumpkins last week, but two of them have already had to be thrown away. We had a very early freeze in our neck of the woods, and the result was mushy pumpkins.

~ Our butterflies have completed their life cycle, and the butterfly habitat will be put away until spring. This has been one of Jonathan’s most favorite birthday presents ever!

~ The kids are extremely excited to attend the Harvest Party at Grandmamma and Papa’s church tomorrow night. They always bring home bags and bags of candy.

~ And now, in the “here’s my excuse for not blogging hardly at all next month” category: I’m doing NaNoWriMo. For those of you unfamiliar with the acronym, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel. In a month. That amounts to 1667 words a day. So, needless to say, blogging will be at a minimum until November is over. I’m excited but terrified, too. But at least I’ll be able to say I tried, right? Michelle did it last year, and it didn’t kill her. :) Natalie is doing it, too – but her goal is 7,000 words. Michelle and her kids are doing it, too, so at least we’ll have company.

I guess that catches everyone up. Anyone else out there doing NaNoWriMo? Please let me know – and tell me your user name – so I can add you to my writing buddies list.

Have a great Halloween!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

October 28, 2009 Categories: Holidays , This and That | 4 Comments  

I had a strange dream last night – probably a result of watching the last two episodes of Life on Mars. In my dream, I went back in time to visit my younger self – around 15 or 16 years of age. I was allowed to give myself one piece of advice. You know what I came up with?

“Don’t wear orange.”

Profound, huh? I told Natalie, and her response was, “Well, Mom, you don’t look very good in orange.”

Online shopping for the holidays

September 28, 2009 Categories: Holidays | 1 Comment  

Last year, I did almost all of our Christmas shopping online. It saved me a ton of time, and I got some really good deals, too. The best thing about doing holiday shopping on the web is that you can do it from the comfort of your home or your office, without having to fight the crowds and look for parking spaces.

Look for sites that offer daily deals. During the holiday shopping season, which starts earlier and earlier every year – usually as soon as Halloween is over – a lot of sites offer a daily special on a a high-interest item.

Don’t forget gift cards. A lot of online retailers offer gift cards, either physical cards or e-mail gift certificates. And don’t just think merchandise. For those people who are difficult to buy for, you can purchase gift cards for restaurant and movie theater chains. Who doesn’t love a night out at the movies?

For people on your list who have very particular taste, you’ll have better luck finding something online, without all the legwork required at the mall or in town. Out-of-print books, gourmet items for foodies, specialty coffee, collectibles – there are web sites devoted to the most unique of gift lists.

When it comes time to start your holiday shopping, turn on the computer instead of starting the car. You’ll save gas and time and loads of frustration.

(This is a sponsored blog post.)

Dressing up for Halloween with your kids

August 12, 2009 Categories: Holidays | 2 Comments  

It seems every year that Halloween takes me by surprise. We’ve just settled in to our new school year, when October is upon us and the kids are getting excited about the Tae Kwon Do Halloween party. Each year, the dojang holds a terrific party with a costume contest – and a lot of the parents dress up along with their kids. It can be difficult to find adult Halloween costumes that are original and comfortable. (And by adult, I mean “for grown-ups” – not the other connotation. :) )

Whether you’re attending a costume party or simply taking your kiddos trick-or-treating and you want to join in on the fun, Halloweenstreet.com has costumes in a variety of themes, from Disney to Dr. Seuss costumes, and from every historical era you can imagine. You can be a fairy or a Flinstone, a doctor or nurse, a giant bag of Wonder Bread or a Tootsie roll. All the superheroes are also available, or you can make a political statement with a mask of your favorite (or least favorite) politician.

If you want to make attending a Halloween party or trick-or-treating a family affair, there are also couples costumes and maternity costumes for those of you expecting a future trick-or-treater.

(This is a sponsored blog post.)

Links for Friday, July 10, 209

How did it get to be Friday again already? This week just whizzed by!

We had a great Independence Day: mid-day at the lake, home to watch – what else? – Independence Day – then fireworks when it got dark. Stayed up way too late.

Stayed up way too late Sunday night, too, since I took the kids to the drive-in to see Up and The Hannah Montana Movie. Loved Up (I don’t think there is a single Pixar movie I haven’t loved) and was surprised that the second feature was actually pretty good – and had some catchy music that I can’t get out of my head, because my daughter has been singing it ever since.

Went to the gym three times this week and walked on the treadmill. Increased my speed and duration each time. My butt and thighs hurt.

Got a haircut today for the first time in ages – my hair had grown out fairly long, now it’s a little longer than chin-length and layered again. Much cooler for summer.

Tonight, Natalie and I are going to a mother-daughter campout. I will stay for hot dogs and campfire songs and the scavenger hunt, but come home to sleep in my bed so a dozen tween-aged girls don’t keep me awake until o-dark-thirty.

Five days until my sister Debra gets here for a quick two-day visit. Haven’t been able to hug her in real life since her divorce. Can’t wait to get all caught up.

We have two members of our extended family undergoing treatment for cancer. My aunt is having radiation treatments to follow up on a lumpectomy for breast cancer. Kevin’s sister will undergo surgery and then chemotherapy for liver cancer. Prayers would be greatly appreciated.

Well, I’m off to run errands in 20 minutes, so I better get on with the links:

~ This comic is funny, and sadly, true. We love our public library!

~ The Best Books of the Year So Far.

~ ABC is holding a contest for budding song-writers: write a mock theme song for LOST.

~ This video is amazing: A choir uses their hands to simulate a rainstorm – and then they sing Africa.

At Books and Movies recently:

~ My favorite YA fiction, part one
~ Book review: Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult
~ Book review: The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark

Have a great weekend!

Happy Father’s Day, Kevin!

June 21, 2009 Categories: Holidays | 2 Comments  

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Thanks for being such a great dad to our brood. They’re blessed to have you. I love you!