How will Dems talk about Romney’s Mormonism?

“As the Obama campaign makes the case that Romney is somehow weird, different some supporters of Romney will say that … Continued

The craziness around Halloween is hard to ignore and as with anything “sacred,” be it a day, a story, an object — it has multiple meanings. These days, as with so much in our polarized public culture, each meaning has its own advocates who ardently believe they have the whole truth.

There are our religious fundamentalists who oppose Halloween because of its pagan origins and occult and satanic symbols and believe the holiday undermines Christian values with its embrace of devils, demons, and goblins. Just as seriously, there are Wiccans who oppose Halloween for its offense to real witches by promoting stereotypes of wicked witches. (Opposition to fun often makes strange bed fellows.)

There are traditionalist Jews and members of other faiths who oppose Halloween because it is a Christian holiday — All Saints Day. There are our simplicity folks who oppose Halloween because they see it as another construction of Madison Avenue that has turned one more holiday into a commercialized ($5 billion) consumption experience. There are our concerned parents who oppose Halloween because of its increasing tolerance of violent images and vandalism.

There are serious Christians who reject the ghost, ghouls, witches, and vampires of Halloween and instead emphasize the Christian tradition of honoring all saints known and unknown. And then there is the majority of parents and children who simply enjoy the candy and costumes, the pranks and trick and treating, and the carved pumpkins and haunted houses of Halloween.

So, not surprisingly, depending on who one is and to what community one belongs and one’s psychological predisposition, Halloween is indeed many things. It is harmless fun or anti-Christian, anti-Jewish or anti-Wiccan, amusingly scary, chillingly violent or crassly consumerist. It is all of these as well as a Saint Fest, a day to honor the dead, a harvest festival, and a psychological release as, around us, nature “dies” for the winter and the day darkens earlier and earlier.

It seems to me that the cultural and spiritual energy surrounding Halloween is directly related to this multiplicity of meanings. (My wisdom tradition teaches that, contrary to conventional understanding, something is sacred not because it has only one specific meaning but because it has indeterminate and inexhaustible meaning.)

In other words, there is a partial truth to each of these meanings and rather than simply dismiss the meaning or meanings we feel are silly or wrong or even dangerous we might try to incorporate some insight or aspect of that meaning, however small, into our take on Halloween.

Personally, I grew up attending a Jewish parochial school that strongly discouraged any participation in Halloween festivities. But my parents, with a bit of reluctance, and quite a bit of pleading from me and my five brothers, treated Halloween as a secular day and permitted us to dress up and go trick or treating with emphasis on the treating rather than the tricking.

But we were reminded that Halloween was not a Jewish holiday and as age appropriate actually learned a little about the origins of the holiday and where we as Jews differed. And there were also some interesting additions to our celebration. Costumes were home-made, not purchased, and there were no hatchet in the head costumes. For every one piece of candy we got to keep we had to give away one piece. (We started with the non-kosher candy!)

And of course there was UNICEF — our celebrating and candy gathering were connected to giving to the less fortunate. One might say that we had fun without the fear and the frenzy — a kind of fun that transcended different faiths and backgrounds — in which our present joy superseded a pagan past, candy trumped creed, and treats trumped theology.

Be Safe and Happy Halloween!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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  • tidelandermdva

    How will the Democratic party talk about Romney’s Mormonism?
    Hopefully (to use the newly AP stylebook approved usage), NOT AT ALL.
    True, Romney’s Mormonism is the basis of his conservatism, but the Democracts should attack his conservative positions: anti-gay, anti-Hispanic undocumented immigrants, Ryan’s Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid busting budget, even more tax cuts for the rich. Romney’s indifference and ignornace of the problems of working families, and especially working women, is a legitimate area of attack, even if the attempt to ridicule his absurd defense that his wife is his advisor on the problems of working, working class women blew up in their face. Romeny’s endorsement of so-called Personhood legislation yesterday which will outlaw the Birth Control Pill, let alone Plan B Morning After Pill, and of course all abortions at whatever stage and from whatever cause, puts him “severely” to the right of even Santorum and is an alarm bell in the night. None of these lines of attack depend on his Mormonism. From a Democratic perspective, the aspects they dislike about Mormonism are amply realized in Romney’s professed positions; they need not dig into his religious beliefs to get at them. After all, the Democratic leader of the Senate is a Mormon, so Democrats cannot be accused of anti-Mormonism.

    This is not true of Romney’s GOP opponents. Romney’s Mormonism is the third rail of GOP politics: Neither Romney nor his opponents dared touch it. It was the underlying objection to Romney in both the Huckabee and Santorum campaigns, but only the Dallas ministers’ meeting dared make their objection explicit. This resulted in a somewhat odd campaign in which the fundementalist Christians pretended their objection was to Romney’s supposed moderation because they could not admit the sectarian basis of their actual objection. But because his Mormonism was suspect for docturnal reasons, Romney could not assert his core conservatism by saying, “Look, I’m a Morm

  • wise_pharaoh

    I agree with you tide, but the GOP are ruthless and hypocritical. If it was the other way around a stealth campaign would launce to make sure the electorate know all about the challengers Mormonism. Heck they are still calling the President Muslim, usurper, different, America hating and let’s not forget Reverend Wright. So I think they should just explain the tenants of Mormonism truthfully and let the electorate decide…. Just my 2 cents…

  • wise_pharaoh

    would launch

  • srklaus

    Is it true that Mormons wear magic underwear? I’d like someone to explain that.

  • mountainlake1

    Come on people, Romney believes he will be a god some day! With his own planet! This is the key doctrine of Mormonism, called eternal progression. Americans DESERVE to know if Romney seeks to be a god, and if so, how he plans to use the presidency to further this goal.

  • catatonicjones

    Leave Romney’s weird beliefs alone, the democrats won’t be gaining any advantage by saying anything about it, let the fundies in his own party do that.

  • catatonicjones

    Americans believe in many different gods, how is Romney’s believing he’s going to become one any weirder than believing in gods in the first place?

  • catatonicjones

    I still haven’t got an answer from anybody on that. The term “magic underwear” was first told to me by a guy who said he was a Jack Mormon – an ex-mormon. He was drunk at the time …