Forgiving Todd Akin

AP Todd Akin speaks in Jefferson City, Mo., on Aug. 10. Missouri Rep. Todd Akin has vowed to stay in … 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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  • heynow211

    The first part of receiving forgiveness is acknowledging your transgression. He wants us to believe he “misspoke”, as though he didn’t actually believe what he said when clearly he did.

  • di89

    You can forgive someone and still think they are in the wrong job and belong elsewhere.

  • Catken1

    Because when you are forcibly implanted in someone else’s body against their will, and made dependent on their resources without their consent, that person still has the right to say no.

    Because a woman’s body belongs to her, and not to her rapist’s child.

    As for your “compassion,” what about all those kids who get a death sentence because you view your blood supply, your bone marrow, your liver and your kidneys as your own and not government’s to dole out to innocent children who need them to live? Why can’t you give up your “right to choose” who may or may not use your body, to save some poor kid’s “right to life”? Why can’t you be the one treated as property and used as means to someone else’s end for a change, instead of being treated as a human being and an end in yourself?

  • charlie890

    I forgive him. Now to the issue: he and his party want a constitutional amendment making abortion illegal regardless of circumstances. Is that what you want or not? Vote in November.

  • charlie890

    “Rapist gets fair Trial, Kid Gets death why?” excellent question and an excellent reply by Catken1

    I think Akin is a few screws loose but the question asked by sway and the answer given by Cat is the kind of real dialogue we should have.

  • Kingofkings1

    A good analysis on the Akin fiasco and forgiveness

  • TonyDiaz999

    The concept of forgiving in this case is really nonsensical.

    Would one forgive a person who suddenly takes a saw out and saw his foot off?

    This man is simply unfit for political life in the USA. He is completely detached from reality.

  • tony55398

    I understand where he is coming from, he is saying rape for real, not a woman claiming to be raped, who was not. As it is the woman’s body versus the child, of course she has the power to end a life. It takes a great Love to give life to a child that comes from rape and few women have that deep of Love, let alone those who abort for mere convenience or for monetary problems or other problems. Love is Life itself and few there are who live that kind of unselfish Life. Always there are excuses, but tell those to Jesus who died for us all. His illegitimate children.

  • itsthedax

    “Forgiveness” is irrelevent in this case. Akin has demonstrated that his sense of judgement is not based on fact or reality. He is in a position to to this country great harm and is simply unfit for public office.

  • shilotoren

    In Jewish law the mother’s life is primary to that of the fetus. If carrting the child of a rapist is psychologically to difficult for the mother than she should be allowed to abort.