Affordable Care Act:

David Goldman AP Supporters of President Barack Obama’s health care law celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington Thursday after … 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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  • IntellectOne

    Stupak , you are a dreamer and you were outsmarted by the devil himself. The States will not participate in this charade of an Affordable Healthcare Bill. As they should not, because it has birth-control pills, abortion on demand and sterilizations in the Bill. The executive order is not worth the paper it is written, besides, where is the proof it was signed. Is it vapor ware like the rest of the promises? The ‘Salt Stone’ woman will see to it that abortion on demand is in her regulations to the insurance companies that want to participate in the healthcare industry. Clearly, if this Affordable Healthcare Bill is classified as a TAX, then the Hyde Amendment must be applied. (Why was it left out of the Bill purposely?) Did you read the Bill? Obviously not or you did not care.
    All birth control pills are abortifacients (causing abortions), so they should also fall under the Hyde Amendment which does not allow TAX dollars to be used for abortions. The Rule of Cause and Affect apply’s. Because you, Stupak, was a Judas, voting for the Bill, it will Affect everybody. Your Vote and your nine colleagues is jeopardizing every America’s Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience.

  • Sydwal

    IntellectOne: You use the word “conscience”. Where’s yours when the largest cause of bankruptcies in the U.S is an inability to pay medical bills? The ACA is a triumph for the President and so it should be. You clearly have fundamentlist Christian leanings yet you’re happy for the status quo to remain, meaning 50M Americans are without cover and if your kid is born with a pre-existing condition then tough luck for him / her because health insurance is a dream. Thanks to good people like Bart Stupak it’s become reality.

  • jack824

    I thought Stupak did a very courageous thing – and sent him a letter saying so at the time.

    When the rest of the pro-life movement started dumping on him for political reasons – when they refused to see the good that was being done – they lost me. I would submit that by reducing the financial strains of healthcare by young families this bill will do more to reduce abortion than all the marches and vigils combined.

  • IntellectOne

    There is a much better way to take care of the uninsured and preexisting patients. First all all, it is against the Law to turn away anyone from the Hospital that needs care. Nobody has been turned away from hospitals. Everybody should be taken care at the hospitals even when they do not have insurance or property. The hospitals have done that for years. The first thing that should happen is Litigation Reform. There are a lot of unnecessary tests being performed on patients that do not need them. The only reason is so that the doctor does not loose everything he owns. Costa are very high because of Liability Insurance. Birth control pills and abortion on demand and sterilizations are not ‘Healthcare’ so those have got to go. The money is better spent on the poor that cannot afford decent insurance and proper medical care. There are 4,800 abortions each day in America, the pimps or the boy friends should pay for those not the Tax payer. First of all, abortion is not justice so why is everyone concerned about paying for such an evil procedure. that is not justice for an innocent helpless unborn. The current Affordable Healthcare Law aka Obamacare is a very flawed Law and a Bad Law.

  • verbummilitant

    Abortion is an intrinsic evil. ObamaCare simply wraps layers of apparent good around an evil core. Think of ObamaCare as a M&M candy. The outer core will not melt in your mind; it will melt in your soul.

  • IntellectOne

    No it will not, Birth-control Pills are abortifacients (cause abortions) so let us not go there. There are no safe abortions; the baby dies and sometimes the mother too. Abortions are not ‘Social Justice’ for the baby living in the mother’s womb.

  • cricket44

    You have no clue what you are talking about, IntellectZero. None.

  • IntellectOne

    cricket44 you must be an employee of Planned Parenthood, because that is about the response they would have from their Playbook. They use every euphemism they can find to make evil sound good, which is impossible…so their only response is “you do not know what your talking about” very ingenious.

  • IntellectOne

    Sterilizations are not humane either. In this “Affordable Healthcare Bill” there are No Win Win situations. It is sad that everyone will have to learn the hard way because they are so gullible and trust the corrupt politicians..

  • cricket44

    Nope, just amazed by the sheer twaddle that is pontificated to the general public in lieu of facts by the anti-choice contingent.

    Every word you spew indicates you’ve done *no* research whatsoever into the issue. Just choose to believe the lies you’ve been told.

  • IntellectOne

    Obama personally was promoting his Affordable Healthcare Bill, like a pimp, at a High School Campus, just last week. He must be the Poster Boy for Planned Parenthood.. He wanted the youth to know that it was so important to have access to birth-control pills? Well guess what, in reality birth-control pills are 87% effective and no protection mentally or physically, where as, Abstinence is 100% effective, full proof, mentally and physically.

  • cricket44

    Thank *goodness* you’ve remained virginal, NoIntellect because you really ought not to be breeding.

  • alison8

    Ah. At *your* high school campus. When you get a little older, you’ll understand a whole lot better.