‘Legitimate rape’ remark fuels women’s increasing skepticism about religion

AP Todd Akin, Republican candidate for U.S. Senator from Missouri taking questions on Aug. 10, 2012 after speaking at the … 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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  • fish4

    I find it strange that hundreds of women are being lectured by a self righteous fool who claims he is smart enough to know gods opinion on everything. If he knew half as much as he thinks he does he would be smart of enough to shut up. Since you may be too stupid to figure this out on your own here is a clue Scott in VA

  • RedTornadoes77

    Republicans–the party of billionaires, segregation, McCarthyism, etc.–benefit from religion. Why would anyone who despises such things still continue to go to church. By contrast, no wonder the top one percent encourages them to do so. I hate to agree with Marx about anything but he was dead on about religion when he called it, “The opiate of the people.”

    Recall Pius XII’s nice deal with Hitler. Recall the reactionary, church-led Vendee movement during the French Revolution? Recall the close ties between bishops and brutal dictators in Latin America.

    If no one was religious today, would the GOP have a chance at the polls?

  • RedTornadoes77

    CBS 60 Minutes, in a report on the Irish Catholic church after mass exposure of pedophile priests and coverups, said that in some churches attendance has dropped from 90% in the early seventies from 2 percent now. Ireland used to import priests. Now it has a shortage and not just because so many have been arrested or kicked out. Hardly anyone wants to become a priest.

    I think it’s great, having put up with nasty, yardstick wielding nuns (no priests fortunately) in elementary school. In one case, they actually killed a kid whose mother made the mistake of having him wear jeans to school one day because all regular pants were dirty. His nun teacher went into a fit and beat him. She then called in another nun who said, pointing at the boy: “Do you see what I see? That boy is wearing jeans.”

    At the end of the day the victim, Eddie Savitski, was among students who attended an event the school encouraged at a local movie theater in Mount Carmel, Pa. When he was leaving the nuns saw him and ran after him–apparently intent on beating him again. Eddie, who was a friend of mine, ran into the street and got hit by a car.

    For years afterward, his mom would sit in a chapel across the street with a sad look on her face. You could see she never got over it. I’ve heard since that the driver was haunted as well, not knowing the real story. My sister, who was in Eddie’s class, says that the next day, the kids was warned not to tell anyone about what happened the previous day. A threat was implied but not stated.

  • wyograndfather

    Biologically he was wrong–he apologized forget it. We all know by “legitimate rape” he meant forcible as opposed to statuatory where it is consensual but one is underage

  • Delongl

    This is the most ridiculous idea and article I have read in years. The hate for religion just steeps out of this article.

  • Guest1000

    Be nice to see women seek out alternatives to the bigoted feminist secular ‘religion’ they have been brainwashed with. The Big Lie (gender feminism) is ideological hatred pure and simple…hatred which en-‘gender’s a cult following among the feebleminded sex. Vibrant growing communities of bigoted female supremacists who worship stupid feminist theology are no better than those which worship murderous Sky Daddies the world over.

  • joecalbear

    Is “legitimate rape” something only fundamentalists practice?

  • concerned citizen

    Can you believe that tax payers are footing the bill for this man’s salary? How can anyone in their right mind make a comment like he did?

    Go To: Robert A. Young’s Blog For Social Responsibility @ Blogspot.com for a retired Philadelphia Police Department’s Sex Crimes investigator’s view about a controversial comment made by a former Philadelphia prosecutor (D.A.), two term Philly Mayor and long time Pennsylvania Governor on a Scranton, Pa’s television show when questioned by a news anchor about the Penn State sex crimes scandal. This individual also served on the Penn State boare of trustees but, like others claimed no knowledge of the reported incidents allegedly occurring at that time.

  • useurcents

    WYOGRANDFATHER, RAPE IS RAPE. He was only voicing the
    convention platfore that all GOP’s approved. He is also a very
    stupid man. Apologies are only as good as the man and this man
    is a pox on ALL PEOPLE and should never be in the election process.

  • persiflage

    Guest – you just won the stupid comment award and have also place first in the ‘almost impossible to understand’ contest.

    You have bested the best – congratulations!

  • IntellectOne

    What does ‘Religion’ mean? Is is misunderstood just as the statement made by Akin? Is it purposely misunderstood or is it that the Democrat woman are surface thinkers and really do not know what they are talking about.? A religion is man’s/woman’s connection to God. God gave everyone a Will to Choose Him or not to Choose Him. God does not need the man or woman to believe in Him, but the man or woman will be lost without God. Especially, if the woman is raped, while she is intoxicated or otherwise.
    What Akin’s statement shows is that there are “legitimate Rapes” and then there are the ‘Rapes’ that women make-up, as they find themselves single and pregnant. If the Democrats try to say that that does not happen, they are liars. Akin’s statement was one that a doctor had told him at one time. (that a woman’s body may naturally fight off a pregnancy while being raped. Presumable, because of the ‘Violent’ and Terrifying” action of the rape, to the woman. That is a plausibility in some cases? The indignation and over-blown statements, by the Democrat women, against Akin are hysterical and not genuine at best and an absolute farce at worse.
    Either way the child in the mother’s womb is an innocent helpless child.
    Rape is Wrong and a horrific injustice to the woman.
    Abortion is ‘Wrong’ and an horrific injustice to the innocent helpless human-person in the mother’s womb.
    (2)Two ‘Wrongs’ can never make a ‘Right’!

  • alison8

    (Sorry for the double post–six minutes later, the first hadn’t gone through.)

  • jack711

    You must have provided a link to the wrong youtube. I never heard anything like that on this clip. You are being dishonest.

  • Marlowe28

    The atheist movement, as evidenced by the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, is filled with men who disprespect women. It may be that most religious organizations support the patriarchy but so does “organized” atheism.

    A woman who spoke at an atheist convention blogged about feeling uncomfortable when a man came onto her in a hotel elevator in the early hours of the morning and refused to take no for an answer. Dawkins and many of his minions, mostly male, but some women, too, attacked her viciously for publicly recounting her experience. Their laundry list of objections could have been written by the Pope and Todd Akin.

  • IntellectOne

    What happened to Freedom of Speech? Are women the only ones that can say and act indecent? The filthy talk and all the pornography that they produce? Examples “Lady Gaga” and the “Fake Madonna” during half-time performance for the NFL and on the public waves. What a farce that the Democrat women are insulted by what Akin said. Akin should stay as a public servant because he seems to be one of the few decent elected officials..

  • IntellectOne

    How can anyone pay for Obama? After all, he was pushing birth-control pills at a High School.

  • claywillis

    Are there truly women out there smart enough to realize where Barack Obama and the Democrats (with the help of the media, including the Washington Post) are trying to take this country, and who are unwilling to throw a candidate under the bus who will help reverse that direction because of one misstatement for which he apologized? Are there really women out there who do not want their children and grandchildren to grow up in an America with a socialist system that will drastically limit their freedom and choices in life? Are there women out there smart enough to avoid letting the in-the-tank-for-Obama media tell them for whom to vote? Imagine that!