Night at the Oscars? Harvest Festival? Thoughts on the Halloween Alternative

On Halloween night the MGA is hosting a Halloween alternative. It is advertised as

“Come dressed as your favorite celebrity & walk down the ‘Red Carpet’ to Hollywood! Prizes for best dressed celeb, best chili &/or pie at the Top Chef Chili & Pie Challenge. Bring 2 homemade pies, one for judging &/or one for eating! There will also be a candy land  and a slime making station, and surprise celebrities! Donations of nut free candy are welcome!”

I’ve been to several Halloween alternatives in my life, primary as a volunteer for the Churches that were putting them on but also as an attendee  I was never part of a Church that would do a Tract and Treat [ Christian children dressing up as Bible characters or saints, knocking on doors, and passing out tracts in exchange for candy] but I have attended “Hell Houses” that were put on by local Churches. While the former two are not as common, Halloween alternatives are.

Believing that Halloween as it’s celebrated by our culture is less than ideal, the Church has created an alternative where Children, so as not to feel left out or that they are missing something, can go to experience a similar celebration without the negative and dark elements. Its sort of like a sanitized Halloween, with all major components there and sharing all similarities. Fun time with others? Check. Getting free candy for minimal effort? Check. Elements of the harvest, such as pumpkins and scarecrows? Check. Other themed decorations? Check. Scary/Evil elements? Not so much at harvest festivals, but if they put on an evangelistic hell house, check! Kids in costumes? Check/ Adults in costume? Check. “Noticeable” teen or adult females wearing costumes highly noticed by teen and adult males? Oh the stories…….

Amorphously tied in to Autumn and Thanksgiving motifs, these events are usually  how we were to be thankful for the bounty God gave us. Parents would bring their kids dressed up as frogs, farm animals, pirates or Disney princesses and they would go to different stations manned by the youth group volunteers to collect treats, oftentimes of a homemade nature, but more often than not consisting of pure sugar and high fructose corn syrup. After the harvest festival was over, the teens would vacate and go home to get dressed up and hit the local neighbourhoods and businesses.  They rarely worse costumes, opting instead to go in their regular street clothes,  though there was the occasional sketchy nurse and bloodthirsty murderer.

Bringing it back to the MGA, I have to confess that I really don’t get the idea and purpose as coming dressed up as Hollywood actors and starlets. I understand the Halloween alternative, but I cannot think of a concept that is more foreign to me and strikes me to be as poorly conceived than having Christian boys and girls dress up as their favourite secular movie stars. Hollywood seems to be the epicentre of a worldview that is squarely at odds with a biblical one. The whole thing more often than not seems like a celebration of money, sex, power, drugs, violence, vanity and materialism. The lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life... In very real ways they have contributed to the sexualization of our culture and normalization of every kind of aberrant and perverse behaviour. Furthermore, there are very few actors and actresses  whose movies are wholesome and pure, and who would be Godly and righteous role models that we ought to look up to, much less dress up like.

I’m trying to think of who I would come dressed up as, and I can’t even think of a person. Who out there is worth emulating and dressing up as, and what does it say about us and our Christian identity that we want our kids to dress up as Hollywood stars? What does it say about our idolatry? I suppose its a given that some of our girls will come dressed up as Miley Cyrus and other young actresses who regularly exhibit in their private and public life what can only be described as “whoremonging skills.” Dressing up as  Hollywood movie stars attending the Oscars to celebrate movies which often showcase their sin and depravity, in the name of entertainment.

The only thing I can compare it to would be if Timothy or Titus instructed their congregation members that  instead of celebrating some pagan festival, that they should  have their kids and congregation members dress up  as gladiators. They could decorate the houses and catacombs with sand on the ground and weapons in little piles. They could be dressed up as the slaves, criminals and prisoners of war that found themselves entertaining the masses as they cut bone and shed blood in the Flavian amphitheaters. If the women think they would be left out, no worries- there were female gladiators too, and from all accounts they were just as fierce and like a lot of women celebrating Halloween wore just as little clothes.

Clearly I don’t get it, and I wonder if I’m part of some misguided minority. What do you all think? Do you like the idea of a Halloween alternative, and secondly- what do you think of the theme? Is it harmless fun to dress up as Hollywood movie stars, or does it betray some troubling reality? Discuss!

3 thoughts on “Night at the Oscars? Harvest Festival? Thoughts on the Halloween Alternative

  1. What I don’t get is how there would even be a costume involved in this? I suppose you could dress up as a character one of these actors has played in a specific movie, but that wouldn’t really translate to a night at the Oscars which is usually just glitz and glam and a lot of skin. I don’t suspect anyone will look all that different from just themselves in a fancy dress or suit, and if that’s the case, it not only sucks out the fun of getting to choose a costume, but they might as well have called it something related to dressing fancy rather than emulating the Oscars.

    Maybe you could go and dress up as Jesus. He was a Hollywood star in that film The Passion a while back.

  2. I don’t get Halloween alternatives of any kind. Like I said elsewhere, Halloween is about walking around getting candy for saying “trick or treat”. It isn’t about witchcraft or anything else of that kind (for most people). Where I grew up, Halloween was a community thing. The fire department went down town and let kids get on the trucks and play games. The businesses downtown handed out candy and ran games for the kiddos. We all walked around getting candy (and I must say, I did that until well into high school. It was fun though… haha). But I also never did the scary stuff like haunted houses, and I wasn’t allowed to dress up as anything evil. So, yes, I do think Halloween has the potential to be bad, but as long as you use discernment it’s just a fun time. Like in my community, what a better way to get to know neighbors and have opportunities to forge friendships? If I were at a church alternative Halloween, I would have missed being part of the community.

  3. What I don’t understand:
    1) Christians that see no harm in celebrating the holiday as is, who show their children (or themselves) horror movies, who may even see Halloween as their favorite holiday.
    2) Christians that don’t understand why I don’t celebrate Halloween and seem to view me as legalistic for thinking it is wrong.
    3) The alternatives you have mentioned in your post.

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