Is Halloween harmless?

We have come to the end of the month of October and the “holiday” known as Halloween. Now many consider it a day of harmless fun for children allowing them to dress up and receive goodies from others. For many it is considered a day of harmless fun. Growing up, I participated in all the fun that goes along with Halloween. My family educated me about the good and the bad but still allowed us to participate in the fun of Halloween. Personally I do not yet have children where need to make decisions on how to deal with this cultural holiday. Last year I focused on discussing three elements at the foundation of Halloween: fear, selfishness, and deception in a blog article. This year the thought on my mind is whether the day can be considered harmless. My answer to the question is a resounding no.

Now, did celebrating the holiday cause me any long term spiritual harm? I do not believe so, but in thinking about reactions to the day growing up, I know it was not harmless. In examining my own responses I notice three particular ways that what the day celebrates and teaches is harmful. The first of the three areas of harm is that the day really does encourage unbridled desire. It at the heart teaches to embrace what you want and to let go of inhibition. For children the day is about accumulating as much candy as possible, which often gets consumed quickly. The whole concept of “trick or treat” even is about getting what you want or inflict consequences on those who may be inhibiting the desire. Unchecked desire leads to increased selfishness and embracing of an approach of focusing on desire fulfillment.

The second danger is related to desire fulfillment, and that is promotion of disinhibition. Meaning, Halloween promotes the giving in to impulse, to not holding back. Personally when growing up, I found myself more willing to do things I would not do otherwise, simply because it was Halloween and pranks are to be expected. So it was okay to think about egging someone in the neighborhood. Usually the folks at the end of the pranks were folks disliked for some reason or another. Sometimes things were done just because it seemed funny at the time. Admittedly, there were such actions done at other times while growing up, but Halloween just had an atmosphere of allowance.

The third danger I want to comment on is that of desensitization. Halloween is known for attention paid to things that generate fear. The things that are generally considered dark are embraced. The ultimate result of the focus and celebration of darkness results in minimizing the reality of the dangers. Children dress as witches, vampires, zombies, and other assorted demonic monsters with the net result of making evil things seem to be simply matters of child’s play and stories to generate fear. The reality of the forces of darkness is ultimately minimized. When evil is minimized or ultimately made light of, it is far more easily embraced.

So these three identifiable ways Halloween is harmful are significant. Yet, many in the culture hold actually value the focus on desire fulfillment, disinhibition, and desensitization. These are values that are contrary to a Biblical view of love. Ultimately, each of these spiritual dangers make it easier for people to fall into the traps of darkness.  These dangers make it easier to embrace the darkness and forces of evil.

Whatever a parent decides to do with their children regarding Halloween, I encourage you to consider these factors. Whatever you do, take time to teach children the value of loving God and loving others. Take time to teach children that there is real spiritual evil, that evil is not just stories and imaginations of man. Take time to teach the power of light, which is only found in Jesus, and casts aside all darkness. Seek wisdom and ask God to lead your steps in training your children the path of truth.

Now perhaps you are simply a reader who has not accepted the Gospel. You do see Halloween as harmless and find my thoughts to be simply over-reactive. I challenge you to take time and examine further. Look at your own life and see how desire fulfillment, disinhibition, and desensitization have played out in your life. Take time to examine the light found in the Gospel and in Jesus the Christ.

One last thought to close this article. There is very really danger that occurs on Halloween for many adults and children. There is very real harm perpetrated on this day. The folks who engage in harming others on this day, do so ultimately to grow their own personal power. The real spiritual darkness feeds on people being harmed and destroyed. So whether you think I over-react to the elements of Halloween and the harm it produces, there is really harm done to many.

 

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News Commentary: Death follows author of The Secret

Recently the Star Tribune posted an article about Liz Neuman who died while attending a New Age retreat which uses sweat lodges and billed itself as a spiritual warrior retreat.   The primary focus seems to be on the large number of people involved in the sweat lodge ritual.  She is the third person to die during self-help guru James Arthur Ray’s retreat.

James Arthur Ray is a self-help guru promoted by Oprah Winfrey. He is the author of Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want and The Secret. There also has been a movie made promoting The Secret in which James Arthur Ray also appears.  He promotes the new age concept of Law of Attraction which generally is about directing your thoughts to think positively about what you want.

Now according to a New York Post article these recent deaths are not the first time trouble has followed James Arthur Ray.  In July of 2009, Colleen Conaway committed suicide by jumping off a mall balcony. James Arthur Ray also was reported to bully a women into shattering her hand at one of his seminars. 

The recent incidents have police considering charges.  In a recent article, a least one witness has come forward describing the events of the retreat as purposeful deprivation and embracing suffering.  It was all a focus on “mind of matter” that is part and parcel to the “law of attraction” mindset of James Arthur Rays teaching.  It seems the central tenet is that in order to overcome anything hindering you from what you want, you need to train your mind to overcome suffering.

Some of the focus on what went wrong at the retreat pertains to the construction of the sweat lodge.  Certainly the sweat lodge design may have contributed to the tragedy.  Yet the mindset and teaching of James Arthur Ray contributed significantly to the deaths and injuries suffered.  Cries of warning and signs of distress were ignored.   This is really because the teaching center on using the mind to control the universe. A central tenant the law of attraction is that life is illusory. You can get what you want by focusing your thoughts. You can overcome barriers by controlling your mind and thinking.  You can even overcome felt suffering by controlling you mind. These teachings are not new and are central to many eastern and new age religious practices and constructs. 

James Arthur Ray has turned such teachings in to  a well marketed means of income generation.  The ill-fated retreat is one costing attenders at least 10,000 grand.  He has sold millions of books, well aided by Oprah and other celebrity endorsements.  James Arthur Ray certainly has gotten what he has wanted.  Yet, James Arthur Ray star is now fading because of these deaths. It was recently reported that his publishing firm has delayed upcoming book releases due to the recent tragedy.

It is the position of this blog writer, that James Arthur Ray is more than just a slick con man separating fools from their money.  There are very real spiritual elements going on.  Now while the focus here is on fulfilling desires by training the mind, there are spiritual forces at work as well.  The spiritual practices embraced lead to opening doors to spiritual forces of darkness.  Death is around, because the forces behind The Secret and other such teachings want to destroy people.  There is always the promise of having desires fulfilled.  There is always promises of great success.  But the powers behind the words are all about destroying lives.  The suicide of the woman could be pointed at the psychological manipulations of James Arthur Ray, but in reality much darker elements were likely at work.  A clear indication of spiritual darkness at work was James Arthur Ray’s reaction to a sliver of light poking into the sweat lodge. It brought an angry outburst over light intruding on the religious ceremony.  What James Arthur Ray teaches is pure darkness.

Now there is an alternative to the teachings of James Arthur Ray.  The alternative though is not about getting what you want or having your desires met.  The alternative is about achieving true peace.  The alternative is about a spiritual power far greater.  The alternative is the Gospel.  The alternative is Jesus the Messiah.  The only true peace is found in being reconciled with the creator, and being right with God.  What James Arthur Ray offers in training your mind to deny suffering.  What Jesus and God offers is peace in the midst of suffering.  What James Arthur Ray offers is getting what you want now. What Jesus and God offers is love and true life that is not about self, but about that which is far greater and everlasting.  The choice is always in front of you.  Turn to God or find ways to seek to elevate self.  One path is life, one path is death.

Commentary: Nightline Faceoff Debate-Does Satan exist?

Well if you haven’t watched the Night-line Face of debate on does Satan exist, do so it is worth your while.  The debate is on-line at ABC’s website here: http://abcnews.go.com/nightline/faceoff.

 

The debate participants were on one side Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Churchand Annie Lobert from Hookers for Jesus.  The other side consisted of  Deepak Chopra, New Age author and  “Bishop” Carlton Pearson, former word of faith pastor who now teach “inclusive gospel” and no longer pastors a church.

 

The exchange was definitely interesting. Before getting into what the two sides presented, in observing the debate it definitely felt like a battle between light and darkness.  The last word went to Deepak Chopra who used some ancient Essene quote extolling being “totally filled with a presence of love” that Deepak stated that he wanted that kind of intoxication of love.  It felt like the presentation of the debate wanted to give more merit to Chopra and Pearson’s position.  However, that is not a surprise since the media in general only talks about Christianity or Christian themes when it can shed negative light on beliefs. However, it is worth examining what each person added to the debate. I will discuss each in the order that they presented there thoughts.

 

First of all is Mark Driscoll.  He did present the Gospel in a straight forward manner.  He illustrated that evil exists because Satan and people choose to rebel against God and that Jesus came and took on the guilt and shame and paid the consequences of sin.   He provided many sound rebuttals to comments made by the other side, rebuttals that usually led to avoidance and tangents from the other side. He chose to close with a reading of the word of God which presented the Gospel view of the topic, and definitely felt the Spirit of God as he read the Word of God.

 

Second is Deepak Chopra. He basically engaged in espousing clichéd platitudes that seemed to be the buzz phrases for his point of view.  He basically indicated that evil exists because we all have a shadow and that if we get right with self and get in touch with our divine self, everything would be okay.  His answer for the ever escalating presence of evil was that has change happens there is fear and has fear grows so does violence.  He also suggested that Annie Lobert’s experiences were of self and the dark dungeon she had herself involved in.  Deepak emphasized over and over that everyone has experience and their experience is valid for them.  He indicated that he trusts his spirit over his mind.  He also made a big point at de-emphasizing belief.  He indicated that if something is real, you do not need to believe.  Deepak also claimed that his views were more in line with the scientific facts.  He indicated that creation consists of evolution and entropy, with evolution always slightly ahead.  Deepak came off as arrogant and prideful, constantly referring to people with other beliefs not inline with his thinking as primitive whereas he is enlightened.

 

The third person to engage in discussion was Annie Lobert, a former prostitute is reaching out to share the Gospel with other prostitutes. She was there basically to share her story. She reported how she had personal contact with demons.  She seemed out of her element in the conversation, especially when the other side basically explained as what happened to her as being self-created.  Her main message was that demons do try and influence people and are very active.  By the end of the debate, Mark Driscoll tried to help her share her story and what it meant. She was in tears at the end of debate and emphasized that because she knows the reality of evil, she knows the truth of God and Gospel. 

 

The final person is Bishop Carlton Pearson. He emphasized he used to teach the Bible and use his past as a reason to have “authority” on the subject.  His main point is that we create what we want to create. If we want to believe in demons, we create them.  He made attempts at painting Christians as hypocritical for not being “legalistic” and caring more about money or appearances.  He initially referred to having a belief in an omnipresent, omnipotent, lustful Satan.  When corrected, he changed his statement to “almost” omnipresent, omnipotent.  He clearly expressed belief that the Bible and stories related to Jesus and Satan as being simply myth.  He brought up several times the “eternal torture” as being something in his mind that a loving God should not do.  He definitely spoke of from a morally inclusive point of view with a relativistic view of truth.

 

The debate in total showed the clear contrast between the Gospel of Jesus through the Bible and gospel of inclusiveness. On one hand, you have Satan existing due to rebellion and seeking to destroy others and the other, you have evil as a shadow part of self, that if manifests is self creation.  You have one side that looks to depend on Jesus as an answer for selfishness, the other which looks to elevate self.  One side finds peace in Jesus. The other side finds peace in tolerance or inclusiveness. The question is, what side to you lean toward?