Book Plunge: Redeeming Halloween

What do I think of Kim Wier and Pam McCune’s book published by Tyndale House? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Halloween can be an odd time of year. A lot of Christians actually really look forward to it. A lot of other ones dread when this event comes around. You can find many houses with decorations all around meant to spook and delight. Others with the lights turned off and wanting to hide more than a nuclear launch site.

For my family, it was never an issue. I went out every year that I could. In fact, I shocked my wife earlier this week by saying I never even went through all of my candy. I’ve never been much of a candy guy. It was more fun just going around in costume. (Either Link from the Legend of Zelda or a ninja were my favorites.) My wife, on the other hand, had it different. Her family for awhile was afraid of pagan connotations. This was a concept that I would not have understood then, but growing up I have seen more and more that Christians can be afraid of anything if you just say “This has pagan origins.”

In Redeeming Halloween, Wier and McCune look at Halloween and how it can be observed by Christians without having to sell out as it were. The book has both history and application. The history was the part I was looking forward to the most and I wish that there had been a little bit more there. Some parts though I am questionable on. It is false indeed that Constantine declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. That was actually done in 380 by Theodosius. I also question the idea that Christmas was a date taken from the pagans and that December 25th was the day they celebrated the winter solstice.

Still, there were some interesting things in the history. I find the tale of the origin of the Jack-o-Lantern to be interesting and I have found some independent confirmation that turnips were originally used before pumpkins. I certainly think that was a step in the right direction.

Some of the events for kids could be interesting. I like that many of them centered around history in that Halloween originates around a day to remember the saints who have died before. Many of the activities invite us to think about what it would have been like to have been a Christian when the Roman Empire was opposed to Christianity or to be a Christian in areas today where Christianity is still opposed, such as heavily secular or Muslim countries. This will also get young people interested in history and Christian history as well and get them out of the “me-centered” thinking that we have today. By all means enjoy the candy and such, but also realize there is much to learn about from the world around you and that many Christians care a lot more about other things than “feeling good about themselves.”

As someone who is not a parent, I could not relate to a lot of the parental advice yet, but that doesn’t mean that parents will not. Thus, I’m not the best one to speak on that point. I do think that most parents will certainly find something that their children can enjoy in this book.

The book will be an interesting read if you’re looking for ideas on how to spend the Halloween season. Like I said, I would have liked to have seen more on history, but I’m glad to see it wasn’t entirely ignored. I also appreciate that history came rightly before application. (If only some pastors would learn that lesson!) If you want to know how to spend Halloween, this could be a good book to consider.

In Christ,
Nick Peters