Wednesday, October 29, 2008

#51 Fall Festivals


Christians aren't so sure about celebrating a holiday that revolves around demons and evil. Many of them do research about Halloween's origins and decide they don't want to celebrate what orginated as a pagan holiday. Christmas originated as a pagan holiday too, but churches really get into the full swing of Christmas. For Halloween, Christian culture likes to offer an alternative, and that is called a Fall Festival. The community/grace/baptist/non-denominational warehouse church's website will say "who says Christians can't have fun on Halloween?" and then proceed to describe its fall festival.

A godly woman mans the Harvesting Our Blessings booth.

What are you in store for at a fall festival? Hay bales, cornucopias, and white people wearing overalls and straw hats are guaranteed. More than likely there will be a beanbag toss, bowls of Werther's Original candy, and a plywood board with scarecrows painted on it that you can stick your face through and take pictures. The church elders will wear rope belts and bob for apples, trying to be good sports when they really want to be home watching the world series.

The pastor will stick his head through here for a zany picture at some point tonight.

The elders' wives will be busy holding the kids' Bible costume contest. A few rogue kids will be dressed as Disney characters instead of Bible characters but they will never be dressed as something "worldly" like a witch, a devil, or Harry Potter.



Mike Edwards said...

Don't forget "TRUNK OR TREAT," Where as long as you trick or treat in the parking lot of the church building, it is sanctified.

Anonymous said...

And of course the dunk tank!! I mean it is SO FUNNY to drop Pastor Bob or Pastor Eric in the water!! Ha ha.. Gee Mom, I am really glad you brought me here instead of letting me trick or treat with my friends. At first I was bummed, but you were right. This is a lot of fun! No one at school knew I was dressed as John the Baptist, but all the kids from church do!

Unknown said...

HAHA!! Our youth group used to do "Trick or Feed.” We'd have the kids go around to houses in the neighborhood and gather canned goods for the local food bank. That came to an end when we got shut down by a cop who told us we had to have a permit to do this.

Jojoellen said...

hmmm.. mostly we took our kids to the church harvest festival and then trick or treated around the neighbor hood surrounding the church, the worst part was when you got to someones house and they gave you a tract about Jesus instead of a candy. whats with that? lol

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately my elementary school will not be presenting the Hallelujah Harvest this year due macro economic uncertainty.

the nibbling marmot said...

You were so right about clicking on the christian ads for a great experience.

Anonymous said...

Funny how you put "worldly" in quotations... as if the Bible isn't clear that witches and devils are worldly...

Its one thing to determine whether Christians should read HP, its another thing to assert that HP isn't worldly.

Trev said...


When someone is expressing another's views on a matter, they often are expressed in quotations. It's proper english.

The word "worldly" appears in the bible 5 times and is never used in the context you are referring to.

The bible makes no mention of "witches" or "devils". What exactly is your source and how is it so "clear"?

JNoah said...

I really get frustrated with Fall Festivals. Teaching children from a very young age to disengage from the culture, flee inside the church walls, and cut themselves off from what their non-Christian friends are doing. Now THAT'S a great recipe for teaching relational evangelism!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes Hell Houses are a part of the fall fun too. I feel very fortunate to have been a character in a Hell House at the church where I grew up. I got to scare the hell out of people as they were walking down the stairs into a scene of a girl tormented by the abortion she had or something.

Halloween was such a no no in my growing up that I still almost never get into it. Also, I don't like giving my hard earned candy to little punks that knock on my door.

Anonymous said...

I think this blog is great! One of the reasons I DO like it, is because i think its written very well.
- Your writing style is very dry and has a great raw quality to it. It feels like it is written like how you would explain the subject if you were talking to someone in person. I think some people might miss that, especially if they are criticizing your writing style.

It's actually perfectly written for me to say out loud to an audience. which i have. to the "design team" of the church i work at.
(i'm working to get those absolutely horrible pics off the website, maybe you should mention church websites sometime)

This fall festival post is dead on, however.

Anonymous said...

Trev, thanks for the English lesson. Allow me to return the favor: in rhetoric, if a phrase is placed in quotations it means that the concept represented by that phrase is questionable or arguable. For example, I could write the following phrase:

'"Objective" science confirms macroevolution.'

Though evolutionists claim that science confirms macroevolution, the objectivity is questionable. (Actually, evolutionary science isn't science at all, but that's another issue.)

"Worldy" only appears five times in the Bible, therefore... its not really something that God cares about? Here's another lesson in rhetoric: arguments with suppressed premises are referred to as enthymemes. Rhetoricians use them to hide premises that are obviously false. In your case, if you want your argument to be valid you need the premise "If a concept is only mentioned X times in the Bible, its not important." Of course, that premise is obviously false, which is probably why you didn't write it out.

Anyway, "world" (referring to the world's system or way of thinking) is used dozens of times throughout the NT to refer to the world's evil system of thinking and doing. 1 John 2:15-17 uses "world" in this way six times in just three verses.

The Bible makes no mention of witches or devils?

It would seem that you're commenting on a book that you obviously have not studied.

Anonymous said...

jnoah, how exactly is not sending your kids out to collect candy disengaging them from the world? Do you realize that you've implied that trick-or-treating is as form of culture engagement? That is a very strange view of engagement and I fail to see how that fits in with relational evangelism.

stephy said...

you mention relational evangelism in your reply to JNoah, but your being hard-headed and proud isn't consistent with being relational or loving. God can do much more with a soft heart than he can a hard one. I know there is plenty to make fun of about my blog. Please call me out on things. I want to know who God is and what truth is. I want to be soft-hearted to criticism, because I have nothing to be defensive of, since the blood of Christ covers us if we are believers. (Yay!)

Trev said...


Your condescending sarcasm hurts.

Was that an argument, or an establishment of educational superiority?

I've never even heard of the word "enthymeme" before. You're clearly smarter than I; which I can accept.

My focus wasn't on the "five times", it was on the fact that those five different instances were not used in your given context. You said the bible was "clear" on this matter, and I simply disagreed. No need to get hostile. Difference of opinion should be embraced, not squashed.

My intial intent was to point out the fact that quotations are used to quote something; that simple. You took it on a level that is either esoteric or simply above the average reader's head.

"Actually, evolutionary science isn't science at all, but that's another issue." -- let me guess, Kent Hovind?

Feel free to send me an email at if you want to discuss this further. :)

angela aka joyful saint said...

hi trev,
actually "witch" is mentioned twice in the old testament and never in the new unless you count the word "witchcraft". but "witches" is never mentioned.
"devils" is mentioned a boat load of times. just my 2 cents.

i've never heard of the word enthymeme myself but i will admit it's a pretty cool word to use in scrabble if you can pull it off.

angela aka joyful saint said...

wow, steph,
it amazes me about how much cc i missed out on. we never had a fall festival or gasp!, a hell house. nope, nothing remotely associated with halloween was ever celebrated.

we didn't celebrate Christmas either because of its pagan origins. i guess it depends on what denomination or "non-denominational" congregation you were a part of as to whether you participated in these things.

Trev said...


Gotcha. Are you using New American Standard Translation by any chance (NASB)? It is currently the most accurate translation to date.

I used this version as the basis for my reply to Keith.

angela aka joyful saint said...

hey trev,
in keeping with the fact that i'm a Christian who has somehow been out of the cc loop~ i don't use the translation that cc loves. i use the antiquated kjv. ever since i found out that the "th" at the end of the words didn't mean the translator had a lisp, it's worked for me.

Trev said...

Hey Angela,

Hey, now worries. Whatever works for you!

I'm sure you can appreciate, however, that when conversing with one such as "Keith", the up-to-date translation is very critical.

Trev said...

Ha ha,

Sorry, that's a VERY misleading typo! I meant "NO" worries.

Sorry about that Angela!

Simone said...

Unless there is sarcasm I'm missing, I sincerely question the mental health of someone who would know off the top of their head that the word "worldly" (in or out of quotation marks) appears precisely five times in the Bible.

In other news, I'm adding that "What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter." My answer is: LOVE IT! How many of these Christian Harry Potter crazies have actually read the book? Why is magic allowed and praised in C.S. Lewis' work or when Jesus does it and not Harry Potter?

David said...

Yeah, I know I'm a newbie around here (and as a mainline Episcopalian, may not even count as much of a Christian to some ;) but I am continually amazed at how positive and downright pleasant Stephy is. Even to some commenters who really rag on her or each other.

You can go on about "Christian love" all you want, but our hostess walks the walk.

Mark (under construction) said...

You're going to get people p@@@@@!!! off and into trouble if you keep saying stuff like this.

Keep re packaging pagan festivals!!! God will be pleased. ha!!!


kelly said...

Hi, I just "stumbled" (loaded term, as I've learned from personal experience....) onto your blog while googling the phrase "bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies" because I was convinced that there HAD to be a reason that my Kentuckian grandfather uses it at every grace.

Anyway, thank you for writing this! As someone raised Church of Christ and now a liberal Christian/Democrat/feminist/concern of church ladies, I get completely get this and love it. Props for the "only having Christian friends entry!" Christianity is so much more meaningful and life-changing than a set of narrow-minded taboos.

Mikey Lynch said...

hey, i just came across your blog today. very funny and observant. good work.

David Keen said...

we have 'light parties' in the UK, which are actually quite a good alternative for parents who don't want their kids wandering around trick or treating in the dark.

We are all paranoid aboud paedophiles here, even though there's more risk of being hit by a meteorite, but a few less kids ringing the doorbells of old people and getting them worried is a good thing. And the events I've taken ours to are actually quite good.

But we could do with a bit more Martin Luther-style robustness about the devil: I think Luther once said that if the devil ever turned up, he'd just break wind and that would send Old Nick packing. Can't see that catching on: groups of Christians digesting large quantities of beans and curry, then going round the neighbourhood farting...

Big Doofus (Roger) said...

We do the Fall Fun Festival at our church, too. I'm just glad that we do it on a day other than Halloween so we can still take our kids out for trick-or-treating.

Our family LIKES trick-or-treating because it gives us a reason to get OFF our butts and actually INTO the homes of our neighbors. We get to walk around with them, talk to them--go figure.

However, I LOVE our Fall Fun Festival. Just because a bunch of churches do it, doesn't mean that it's inherently wrong (which seems to be the vibe of your blog--correct me if I'm wrong) or that it cannot be fun. You certainly cannot say or demonstrate that it's WRONG to have a Fall Festival (or whatever you choose to call it). I don't think you're doing that, but I'm a cynic and you make ME look like a legalist.

But don't get the tone of my comment wrong. I'm very interested in your blog and hope to keep reading. I want believers to use their brains.

Micah said...


I think perhaps you're missing the point here. Actually, if I may be so bold, there are several points:

1) Humor is an important part of life. It helps us with introspection. The fact that you sense that this blog makes you look legalistic ought to prompt the introspective question: "Am I? What if others think I am? How can I square what other people think with what I believe?" Humor's a great window into self-reflection.

2) You're right, there's nothing wrong with a trend. Fall festivals are a trend just like the many other trends observed on this blog. But I would submit you're the one implying "wrong-ness" to what is ultimately an ironic look into the many trends that are a part of a culture that most of us relate to quite closely. Nobody said anything was "wrong," the moral judgment is taking place on your end. See point 1.

Specific to fall festivals, perhaps the point being made is not that they're so wrong, but rather that on a basic level they seem somehow evasive-- a sense that the legalism enforced by church communities will only allow fun to be manifested in rather awkward ways. And besides, I'm pretty sure we already have a a holiday to celebrate the bounty of autumn. It's called Thanksgiving.

Furthermore, it may not be "wrong" to point to the prevalence of fall festivals, but it is fair to suggest that their ubiquity exerts a form of institutional control that many people find objectionable and, well, "too easy to be true."

Perhaps that is what's really at stake here: the sense that these- now 51- different items of "stuff" are essentially a replacement for an authentic and unobstructed relationship with a Christ that demands things of us and makes us uncomfortable. A Christ who is not so much concerned with legalism as relationship. It seems to me that many of these blog posts point to the "uncomfortable comfort" of Christian culture; they point to the many things we try to use to make our relationship with Christ "comfortable" when we're ultimately called to an un-mediated relationship with Christ, and an everlasting comfort.

Sorry Steph, I don't mean to write a treatise on your blog, nor to define what it is you're doing, but I think it's worth defending on a philosophical level.

Team Wolfisaki said...

Looks like you've nipped this one in the bud, Stephy. Holy cow!

Anonymous said...

So my 2 cents... I like your blog and can relate to the not loving of the fall fest. Hell House scares the crap out of me and makes me angry. I will say though, that Halloween is different than Christmas or Easter in regards to the evil that takes place. I know that Easter is for the Goddess of Fertility and the eggs and bunnies represent this. The difference to me and why I had a hard time letting go and taking my kids out to celebrate is that Satanists love this holiday and do human & animal sacrifices as well as other nasty deeds. I grew up with a Satanist. I know first hand what they do on Halloween and it is sick. So I don't actually have a problem with trick-or-treating and having fun. I love dressing up and had a great time taking the kids trick-or-treating this year. (although my daughter had to sleep with her brother for a few nights due to one particularly scary house) But going out and having a good time celebrating something that others are celebrating in vicious ways is still hard for me to swallow.

Oh and by the way, I like Harry Potter.

stephy said...

Jamie, wow. If you grew up with a Satanist and that was not a good experience, it's pretty remarkable you can celebrate Halloween for your kids' sake even a little bit at all. I think it's great you can look even a little bit objectively at it...that's really cool.

Pater Aletheias said...

"Fall Festival" sounds a heck of a lot more pagan to me than "Halloween."

Nosirree, no "All Saints Evening" for this church going dude. Let's avoid that paganism by having a harvest festival that celebrates the fertility of the earth and the abundance of its crops. That's the Christian way.

the violet-haired vixen said...

Yeah, what always kills me about the "no Halloween" thing, is that pretty much everything associated with it (except maybe jack-o-lanterns, but even that is debatable) was originally Christian. Kids went door to door on all souls day begging for soul cakes, often while dressed in costumes, which sounds a helluva lot like trick-or-treating to me. Look this stuff up, and the origins of things will probably surprise you! (Btw, I am Pagan, and if I thought we could claim Halloween, I would do it. It's my favorite holiday. Sadly, the evidence just isn't there.)

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Nick Hunter said...

Yes, I heard about this fall festival for the first time. Christmas is one of the biggest festivals of Christians and is celebrated worldwide. So, Christmas is a more popular and bigger festival than this fall event. I am sure this is also a nice and exciting day for the Christian community. Please post more details and updates about this event.
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