Spiritualizing the Secular: An Open Letter to the Clergy of America


Fellow clergypersons,

So it just hit me randomly this year that we, as self-professed American Christians really do worship the religion of Americanity rather than being true Followers of the Way.  That is to say, we’ll follow what American capitalism says, dress it up in Christianity and the Bible and be okay with that.  Here’s an example:  we clearly associate God’s blessings with materialism.  We recognize that God has blessed us when we receive a promotion, a new car, a new or bigger house or whenever our societal standings move upwards we thank God.

That’s problematic for me.

I’d be the biggest hypocrite if I didn’t acknowledge the fact that I do mumble silent thank yous to the heaven just about every time I step into my car with 152,000 miles on it now that has helped me maintain my current societal standing.  Throughout the synoptic Gospels, particularly in the parables, Jesus is generally critiquing the social structures–I mean how often to many of us resonate with the self-righteous man by saying “Thank you God for not letting me like everyone else” which is really saying “Thank you God for not letting me live in the projects” or “Thank you God for not letting me have to take the bus to work, but thanks for the C-class Mercedes by the way.”

I believe we place our spirituality on the wrong things.

Which brings me to the business of Halloween.

As this date, November 1st has marked the beginning of the new holiday shopping season, we still here the traditional church and religious murmuring about how Halloween is of the devil and many churches opt for a “Hallelujah Fest” rather than a “Halloween Party.”  This is to offer a “safe alternative” to trick or treating or other Halloween parties.  I grew up in a family that didn’t celebrate Halloween, so much to the fact (and I doubt my mother remembers this) that I wasn’t allowed to go to my grammar school’s annual roller skating party because it was essentially a Halloween party–but my parents did let me go my 6th grade year which was my final year at that school.

What puzzles me is that these same Christians and church folk who complain about secularization or rather the commericialization of Christmas have only two months prior spiritualized a secular holiday.

Lemme break it down to you.

These same Christians do all kinds of research about All Hallow’s Eve and the true history of Halloween and try and find all types of underworld and netherworldly connections associated with a date that had more to do with agriculture and seasons changing than anything else, but then preach Jesus was born on December 25th in a manger failing to do the historical homework on Christmas.  I mean just Wikipedia Christmas and you’ll see the plethora of meanings behind the date “December 25th.”

I say all that to say, Christians need to let Halloween be Halloween.  It’s not harming anyone, particularly us in the black community.  You don’t really hear about “us folk” running off to be Wiccans or joining some weird satanic cult that still believes in human sacrifices and what not.  I mean given what comes on the evening news, I doubt letting the church group of high schoolers go to a Six Flags “Fright Fest” is going to suddenly “send the wrong message.”  If nothing else, sitting around with flashlights and jack-o-laterns telling ghost stories about the “Headless horsemen” and the “Ghost at West End Lake” probably do more for stimulating a child’s imagination than anything else.  What sends the wrong message is the fact that churches still have parties around Halloween which ultimately mean that churches are turning over their monies to the god of Capitalism because parents are going to still buy costumes, just not the ghosties and goulies, and churches are going to still buy tons and tons of candy.

So what message are you really sending?

Why waste time spiritualizing the secularism of Halloween?  It really doesn’t need it, especially since we still practice the hedonism of both Halloween by throwing our Hallelujah Parties and don’t think we’re going to ever cancel Christmas.  I mean, year after year churches decry the commercialization of Christmas–FOR REAL?  I think it’s just good church hype so pastors and preachers can have a sermon topic.  Seriously, since the creation of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in the 1930’sand particularly following the consumerism of this country post-World War II, Christians have been fighting a losing battle on that front.  It isn’t getting worse, but it certainly isn’t getting to be a smaller problem.  I mean, Christians are quite aware of the significance of Christmas–and Halloween–we need not hear tirades from the pulpits about it either.

So as we go into the holiday season of 2009, let’s be aware of what message we’re really sending.  Are we celebrating the birth of a man who was so radical that his mere existence dominated religious thought 2,000 years after his death or are we really using this as another excuse to offer up our money as sacrifices to the twin gods of Consumerism and Capitalism?  Are our mouths saying one thing but our actions saying yet something else.

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

7 thoughts on “Spiritualizing the Secular: An Open Letter to the Clergy of America

  1. Sorry for messing up the links.
    My church mostly ignores Halloween (except possibly for asking children about costumes and candy), but does an ritual every year in which we stand up and name departed loved ones (or famous people) who we wish to honor as going before as as Saints of God. We just did it this morning. Because we are Protestant, we think all the good departed are saints, so we don’t separate this from the way Catholics traditionally do. In Latin America, All Souls Day has been combined with indigenous practices for the Day of the Dead. I was just linking to all the different Wikipedia articles for All Saints, All Souls, and Day of the Dead.

  2. We do not celebrate Halloween in my household. What is Godly about ghouls, goblins, and demons? Now I am an advocate for celebrating those who have gone on before us. My church does not even mention it. WE teach on what it’s about and the history, but we do not teach the celebration. We do a harvest festival were we educate the kids on the Bible, Jesus, and Christianity.

  3. “You don’t really hear about ‘us folk’ running off to be Wiccans”

    Well, my sister’s friend WAS roommates last year with a witch from Harlem. (There’s something so FUN about that description!) Literally a practicing Wiccan. Dunno much about Wicca, but I do know it isn’t anything like the malevolent cult portrayed in the movies. (Otherwise that particular friend of my sister’s might have been poxed once or twice over some typical roommate squabble….)

    1. @ Marbles

      This comment from the one with a b-day around the holiday in question, LMAO. J/k

      But, I guess the way some black churches get so anti-Halloween and what not you’d think teenagers and young adults were leaving black churches en masse to join some satanic cult.

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