Defending the Defenseless

Amidst the travesty and torture that Pastor Saeed is forced to endure at the hands of his Iranian captors, his faith in Christ shines through

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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  • Dolores Brittain

    Pastor Saeed was born for such a time as this. I believe the Holy Spirit revealed to me the other day, that he is the fulfillment of bible passages Luke 21:12 & 13. But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. (And certainly He Saeed has specifically been brought up before KIngs and rulers in these recent last days)…..13: AND IT SHALL TURN TO YOU FOR A TESTIMONY.
    I pray for this ministry and the release of Pastor Saeed, and his family. His will, will be done.

  • Jake Bates

    Thank you for this article to remind us to defend the defenseless. I love the way the Messiah is shining through (the Sekulow’s specifically) using Jewish Christians to set free an Iranian Christian. The manifold, colorful, wisdom of God is manifested in your inspiring faith (Ephesians 3). I stand with you in prayer and when I can I give. Keep fighting the good fight for our King and our fellow brother!

  • Emil Ghiurau

    Thank you Pastor Saeed for being faithful. Your persistence has challenged my walk with Christ, to live boldly and without fear. May God’s hand be upon you continually. You and your family are in my prayers!

  • Gentle Warrior

    Pastor Saeed has been in my heart for a while now. I have taken Ps 31 and pray it on his behalf and his family every day, making it intensely personal as if it was someone in my family who was suffering such trauma. Actually, it is because when one member of the body suffers, we all suffer. He is part of our eternal family, so I take it very seriously to pray for him, and I will not stop until he is home and safe and sound with his family.

    I cannot imagine the kind of world in which this precious man is living and the conditions he is under, but I also must not forget that he is in fact a prisoner of the Lord Jesus just as Paul was when he wrote his letter to the Philippian church. Under that understanding, I must comprehend the incomprehensible and rest in the fact that Saeed is in good hands.

    I also believe that there is no president, no judge and no figure of authority that can do anything for him until Saeed has fulfilled his calling of rescuing the unloved ones, whether it be one or many, only He knows.

    Pastor Saeed is a true intercessor who has become one (of the many) that live and breath among the wretched of this world. For this reason Christ came, so in this sense the Lord is in prison with him trying to reach out to those who are considered as the dammed.

    We should also greatly appreciate those who are working day and night to avail his release and who work hard to right this awful wrong.

  • areyousaying

    Who will defend, Sekulow, young gay boys and girls you “Conservative Christians” judge, condemn and would cast out even though your Jesus taught you not to? Are you proud of the laws against gays in Uganda you so freely support?

  • ac287149

    The Obama administration fights for rights of citizenship, Mirandizing, defense attorneys, and criminal trials for any Islamic terrorists who have committed clear acts of war on US citizens or territories-yet does nothing to help a Christian American caught in another nation.
    Appearing before Congress obviously does absolutely nothing, look at the IRS and NSA hearings.

  • areyousaying

    No room here with different viewpoints? Is this Fox News for the religious right?

  • Dan Zuverink

    This is one of the shames of this, once great country. While our own President , takes his time off, in beautiful Hawaii, one of our own citizens suffers and may soon be martered, in Rajai Shahr prison, home of the worst rapist, and murders, and a place where people are sent to “disappear”, May God be merciful to all of us who allow this to happen to our “American” brother. What more can we do? I believe we must all, contact our political leaders, in the House and Senate, and our state representatives as well, then go to our local political meetings and “stand up for Americans every where, being held against their will. Thanks for this opportunity, to do what is right. DZ