The Holiday Season: Fact Versus Fiction
It’s that time again.
Baseball play offs.
Chocolate in grocery stores.
The worst films Hollywood has to offer being thrust into theaters fast-food style, along with a few Christian titles that are equally as bad.
The NFL starts its first four weeks of play, and NCAA basketball gets underway. Hints of snow for those of us who live in such places; wind and rain elsewhere.
And the spiritual realm is credited with its own modern day “holiday”.
I am going to attempt to separate fact from fiction here, remembering that some people need to believe that by dissecting a dead animal in the kitchen of their trailer park home, while playing Ozzie Osborn’s first album and burning a few candles, they can somehow summon a favorable spirit who will both exact vengeance on all who they view as enemies and favor for themselves.
Um, it doesn’t work that way. The only thing you’ll get from road kill is sick.
Let’s start with a look at the movies, and their portrayal of spiritual warfare.
Among the greatest offenders of inaccuracy in spiritual warfare are The Exorcist, Poltergeist, Raiders of The Lost Ark, Ghost, and Fright Night, to name a few.
The Name of Jesus has divine, ultimate authority over heaven and Earth. The devil is a defeated foe, despite his denial.
If The Exorcist were Biblically accurate, it would have been about 15-minutes long. Girl plays with ouija board, girl gets possessed. Girl’s demon(s) is cast out in the Name of Jesus.
But no, Hollywood had to drag it out with a sinister-sounding dialogue voice that screams of the demonic and pea soup, and in its wake, audiences responded to an upgraded genre: very bloody, sexually-exploited horror.
Long before Footloose, Kevin Bacon spent time at a summer camp where Jason would kill those who bullied him…or was it his mother. Donald Pleasance chases him in pursuit through a dozen sequels, warning people that his patient is a menace to the understaffed police department and the community it’s trying to protect.
Friday The 13th was titled after its release date, nothing more. Add the scary-voice of the film’s preview and aspiring actors screaming on cue, and the film’s popularity grew.
In Poltergeist, the psychic actually says, “Trust me despite your Christian beliefs.” I wanted to gag, having first seen that film when I was an agnostic Catholic, and now a Christian pastor, the line itself devalues Jesus’ authority, making the demon a superior power.
Raiders of The Lost Ark shows the spirits flying around the doomed Nazis, as if they could be contained in a man-made, albeit it God-blessed ark. Sacred as it is, it’s still just a box. The Word is no longer in it, but inside all Believers, a.k.a. the Holy Spirit.
Fright Night states that one must believe in Jesus with authentic faith in order for His Name to have power over evil. No, but He does require all glory be His, and sometimes, making Believers out of non Believers or agnostics is the right way to go. Put another way, and this makes my Jewish colleagues wince with irritation, we do not need to believe that Jesus is God to valid His status as the Lord of Lords. Our belief is not a prerequisite for His majesty.
Ghost. Honey, if I am murdered, I will still return to avenge my death and protect you during that time. If need be, I’ll use a psychic to speak through.
Fiction. If Sam Wheat (played by actor Patrick Swayze) knows Jesus, he goes directly back to the presence of the Father. If he doesn’t then he descends to hell, no matter how many friends he had on Earth. We are not judged on our Earthly relationships, but on our relationship with Him. Further, we do not take revenge on carnal enemies after we die. Jesus alone is the judge of the living and the dead, and He doesn’t miss anything.
The original reason for Halloween was “All Saints Day”, an Easter-like celebration of Christianity in (year).
Halloween as we know it did not exist until 1952. Its first mass-celebration was in 1846, by Irish immigrants suffering from the potato drought in Ireland. The tradition of ‘Trick Or Treat’ was intended for young girls to have parties where they would spin yarn, bob for apples and play with mirrors to catch a glimpse of their future husband. Boys would go from house to house asking for food.
Over the centuries, communities tried to get the focus off of “scary” attributes, and as the Baby Boomers became grade school age, ‘Trick Or Treating’ was encouraging to diffuse vandalism.
In 1952, UNICEF partnered with candy makers used a TV to broadcast horror movies and advertise their candy products.
Over time, filmmakers like former pornographer Wes Craven, John Carpenter, and Tim Burton have tried to market shock value through the cine-slaughter of humanity, trying to use torture and death as an art form, leaning loosely on history to give credibility to their plots. Burton has spent a career trying to portray demonic characters as being child-safe and lovable. In real life, demons are anything but.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is very loosely based on the events surrounding the life of Ed Gein. Mr. Gein never used a chain saw to murder anyone.
Sadly, the commercial success of these films has given them an identity that is linked to a history of the pre-Constitutional witch hunt at Salem, which was covered accurately by the Arthur Miller play The Crucible; the fictional headless horseman, and even Jack The Ripper, a 19th-century serial killer.
Now, Johnny Depp’s performance as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of The Caribbean, the film based on the Disney theme park ride, has found its way into the Halloween stable of costumed characters.
Thank God for Star Wars and Toy Story or this commercial day (I refuse to call it a “holiday”), as pagan a commercial day as Valentine’s Day, would be unbearable.
Now, for the record, is Halloween some kind of international Satanic day of power, like Christmas and Easter are for Christianity?
Not even close.
History tells us the way it is.
Keep in mind, the average kid seeking power through witchcraft will reject history’s record, so this is really about what you want to believe. Most people can’t handle the truth when it comes to the history of our most famous holidays.
Most kids who seek witchcraft experienced some kind of betrayal of trust as they learned to measure God using Man’s measuring stick, and Satan used his deceptive influence to woo such children into believing they are “chosen” to follow him. The devil has neither friend nor loyalty, therefor he is known in the spiritual realm and on Earth as the Father of All Lies.
Now, historically, let’s start with Christmas.
Ignoring that tragic misstep of entrusting the soul of Germany to Adolf Hitler for a decade, and the Germans really did forge the hottest trail of evangelism of the Gospel over centuries since Paul.
The medieval Germans coined most of the traditions and customs. “Yul” means 12 in German, hence the “12 Days of Christmas”. Norman Rockwell and the publishing industry did as much for the Christmas season as we know it in 2016 as Roger Corman did for Halloween in the 1950’s, given his success of low-budget horror films, used by broadcasters to market candy on behalf of UNICEF.
NFL-hired TV promoters worked hard to make the Super Bowl into a January holiday in its own right, and the same has been done for 20th-century media events. Every holiday has found opportunistic companies that have used it to promote their products and services, a verifiable fact. But that doesn’t change history. Most holidays, or Holy Days, were born of Believers celebrating the greatness of God; that’s the Biblical God, not ‘god’ as in fictional Zeus.
Christmas was, before 1823, a holiday that looked like Thanksgiving, its words “Christ’s Mass” first coined in 1083. Gift-giving had come, gone and come again as a cultural tradition dating back to the latter Roman Empire, coinciding the late December date commemorating the birth of Jesus.
Gifts were not exchanged in the manner they are today. The celebration was intended to commemorate the changing of the seasons, not the birth of Jesus. That commemoration came later.
Jesus was likely born in the Fall. Theologists have guessed calendar dates ranging from April to August. Some have even suggested September, trying to match the birth with any number of Roman Census.
The popularity of the poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and later, in 1857, the play One Horse Open Sleigh, featuring the song “Jingle Bells”. In 1843, Charles Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol made Christmas into a cultural and commercial force as it is known today.
Easter is just about the only Christian holiday that holds a historically-accurate date. Jesus really died at mid day on a Friday (Day 1), His body resided in the tomb Saturday (Day 2) and the beginning of Sunday (Day 3) and rose from the dead early Sunday morning. Good Friday was implemented by the Vatican and perpetuated by their missionaries as priests brought Christianity to the New World.
Jesus died on a week day and rose again after 3 days.
Thanksgiving was a tradition that sprung up by Revolutionaries during the Christmas season; one could argue they were one and the same during the late 18th century. It was formally adopted by the United State under Presidential declaration of Abraham Lincoln as the Civil War ended.
As for Halloween, every custom about it was intended to mean something other than what it is known for today. Its origins are traced to the Celtics and their pre-Gospel ceremony was a combination of Thanksgiving and Christmas, dedicated to pagan gods.
Pumpkins, candy, costumes, and just about every superstition that has become a part of pop culture in the last few decades has been the result of the most warped, illogical and hilariously misunderstood mismatched quilt of folklore, technological needs, and real life events which were recounted completely out of context.
Jack-O-Laterns were candle-filled potatoes modeled after “Jack”, a fictional villain considered so vile that he was rejected by both heaven and hell. This is Irish folklore.
Pumpkins. Well, the original term was “Pumpion”. They are squash. Easier to carve than potatoes, their carving had more to do with modern day Thanksgiving-style food preparation than anything spiritual. They were used as lamps as the Fall turned to Winter.
October 31st carries no more demonic authority with it than October 30th or November 1.
And, to understand the limited authority that the Enemy has on Earth, allow me to explain the basics of spiritual warfare.
- Demons do not like attention. They are real and have no human friends.
- All “ghosts” are demons. All. Aunt Peggy did not appear to you. A demon in her image, who watched her life happen in real-time, appeared just to torture you. Torture can manifest in many ways, primarily deception.
- All reality shows that address spirits and show their images captured on camera allow them to use your TV or online venue as a highway to travel on.
- Demons are not like pets. There is no taming or befriending them.
The Name of Jesus, used by a Believer not otherwise seeking a fight, will make all fallen spirits retreat every time.
Any meditation ceremony that attempts to contact the dead will happen without the blessing of God. Do not open a door you cannot close. God tells us not to open this door at all. Any spirit that responds is a demon pretending to be the person who once lived.
- Vampiresare a creation of fiction writers. The human consumption of blood is a health risk.
Sacrifices or ceremonies to any false god, whether Satan or a pagan god you made up will open a portal to an invisible yet present evil demon. Just don’t go there in the name of amusement.
- Out of body meditation is very dangerous. Possession is not an amusement ride and can result. If you leave your body, a demon will try to enter it. The most powerful weapon in the spiritual realm is prayer in the Name of Jesus Christ, from the heart of any Christian. Though other religions pray, Scripture tells us that a Christian’s usage of the Name of Jesus is God’s priority.
Keep in mind, just saying you’re a Christian is not enough. The Enemy knows the difference and isn’t shy about calling fakers on it.
Note this story from the Book of Acts, Chapter 19. ” (11)God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, (12) so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. (13) Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” (14) Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. (15) (One day) the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” (16) Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.”
Demons do not typically try to assault people using physical weapons.
The use spiritual weapons like fear, depression and guilt. Horror films use shock-value and the audience’s Biblical ignorance to attract buyers to such fictional folklore as The Blair Witch (Project), soley for the purposes of marketing.
There is no immediate danger in viewing horror films, or thrillers, or any movie that doesn’t get the Dove Foundation’s rubber stamp.
I have viewed Scream several times, and become bored by it.
The fact is demons have the authority to move through the spiritual realm through broadcasting venues, and do so every day, not just through horror or sexually-explicit content. Fast food ads can lure people into over eating, and if the viewer is weak to temptation, mere retail store ads, selling everything from hardware to clothes to sporting goods can lure viewers to over spend.
The goal of the Enemy is a never-ending assault to kill, steal and destroy, and the marketing of holidays just provides a means to that end.
Absent of the joy of the God, Christmas itself is empty. The media is a highway by which both good and evil travel. Most consumers have become pretty media savvy these days. The average cell phone can watch TV, browse the internet and order take-out lunch with an App. So, the days of the average person completely oblivious to the potential hazards of the modern world are rare, if not unheard of.
That said, those who don’t like how a holiday, Christian or Satanic, is being observed, should input their own layer of tradition, as Charles Dickens did a century and a half ago.
Christians should use the Trick Or Treat event to distribute tracks in addition to candy. Many churches throw large “harvest fest” type parties, making the event into an evangelism opportunity.
Christmas is the most-missed opportunity to share Christ of the year. Every Santa Claus caricature once drawn by Norman Rockwell to promote Coke, has a German monk who ministered to children behind his legend. Know your history before attacking the commercialization of Christmas.
The Germans used December 12th – 30th as a means to share Christ with the northern Europeans. The date of December 25th was adopted by multiple cultures, and, except for a few years in the 1920’s when Wall Street pushed for a few-days-delay to boost the economy (failed), it has been ever since.
Our celebration of holidays does not change history at all. Jesus was born a supernatural birth, lived to show the miraculous wonders and teachings of God, and died as payment for the sins of the world, on behalf of the Jews, and then the Gentiles. He left standing orders with all Believers to make disciples of all nations, and baptize them in the name of the father, son and Holy Spirit.
So, as Halloween comes and goes yet again, regardless of what New Line Cinema is doing to generate revenue by releasing yet another installment of Freddie Kruger, what are you doing to share the Gospel and obey the Great Commission?