Christian Complacency Thrives in Multiple Locations

Shockingly, Mark Driscoll is back on the evangelical news radar. While this is no surprise to anyone, it is getting tiresome. Evangelicals devote far too much time to “All Things Mark Driscoll”.

In fact, I’m thinking of buying that as a domain name right now, so that I can sell it later as a retirement investment.

The latest comes in an article from Matthew Paul Turner concerning Driscoll’s covert activity on message boards some years ago. Let me warn you: The language and the descriptions in Driscoll’s posts are not for the faint of hear or the easily offended.

Let me also point out that this was 14 years ago, when Driscoll was an up-and-coming pastor without formal training. As I’ve argued, there are dangers in skipping the preparation to be a pastor. I certainly didn’t learn everything in seminary, but I learned enough to recognize unethical, deceptive and narcissistic behavior. Thus ends the digression…

Following Turner’s work, Rachel Held Evans jumped into the fray on the subject, followed by a challenging article from Jonathan Merritt  and a thought provoking Twitter back-and-forth on the subject of forgiveness. Round and round we go.

It all finally came to a head this week, with Acts 29 Ministries removing Driscoll and his church, Mars Hill, from their organization.

Much of the discussion around Driscoll centers on his immaturity, misogyny, homophobia and “bullying”. I completely disagree with much of Pastor Driscoll’s approach to ministry, as well as the reasoning and theology behind it. But questions about his attitude and theology are the wrong questions.

Instead, we need to be asking:  What enables a person like Mark Driscoll, or any other pastor, to color outside the lines of Christian ethics?

The deeper problem behind Mark Driscoll is not his attitude towards women, “Biblical” manhood, homosexuality or Christian theology. The deeper problem is a lack of accountability. Driscoll can say and do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and he really doesn’t have to answer to anyone–even the members of his church.

And that’s scary.

All the hand-wringing over Driscoll’s misogyny/homophobia/bullying often misses the deeper issue at work here. It is the attitude of complacency that allows him to have the kind of power that he does.

As long as a ministry is large, popular, and numerically successful, people are willing to be a part of it. Believers are choosing a path of complacency, where they don’t have to deal with the dirty work that sometimes is the reality of church. They choose to speak only to vehemently defend the church against anyone who brings a criticism, no matter how valid that criticism might be. As long as everything looks good and gets lots of attention (even negative attention), then it must be “God’s church” and we simply need to go along with it.

It’s much the same attitude and approach championed by fans of the televangelists in the 80s, until they had no choice but to wake up and see the monsters that a lack of accountability can create.

And that’s even scarier.

Perhaps Driscoll and other mega-church pastors push the lines of ethics, but the Christian members are enabling them to do it. The defense of Look how many people they have or look how much good they do will falter unless the membership decides to acknowledge the full scope of the reality of these ministries.

No one is saying that mega-churches and mega-pastors don’t do Godly work. But the end does not justify the means. And it doesn’t alleviate the membership from asking questions or knowing the truth behind what is happening in their church.

No one within these churches seems willing to ask why a church requires a “gag order” for staff members that leave.

Or why pastors ask for more offerings while purchasing a 16,000 square foot home.

Or why a board of non-church members set the salaries without the church’s knowledge.

Or why those offerings are used to buy the pastor’s way onto the New York Times Best-seller list (and that has happened in multiple locations).

Before I begin getting comments and private messages about how much good mega-churches do, or how judgmental I am, or how I just don’t understand large churches, let me offer another perspective.

Pastors and members of smaller churches (and that includes me) may be tempted to point self-righteously at these ministries and say, “I told you so!” But that attitude is disingenuous, because the same attitude of complacency and just “going along” exists in the small church just as it does in the mega-church.

The two sides might look very different, but they’re both on the same coin. One side may prefer easy listening to the rock concert atmosphere of the mega-church, but it still entices them to choose a Christianity of convenience.

Comfort and complacency may cause people to join a church where they can enjoy the show without having to ask any questions. Many people in smaller churches shun the show in favor of the status quo. It prevents them from making changes or moving forward beyond their traditions.

And our churches are dying because of it.

The members have decided that they are more interested in preserving what they have than they are in actually taking a chance to live for Christ. We have selected a Christianity on life support, because we don’t want to make anyone mad and we don’t want to hurt feelings. And we certainly don’t want Mr. or Mrs. So-and-So to get so mad that they stop giving their money.

I will be the first to admit that I can’t stand it when people are mad at me. However, I am painfully aware that we are living in an age when making people happy or playing on their emotions/desires is not going to cut it.

We cannot survive on entertaining music and attention-getting sermon titles. Nor can we live in the ease of our comfortable, little church family that makes us feel “at home”.  Usually when I feel at home, I want to put my feet up and crash in front of the television…and that’s a far cry from the discipleship to which Jesus calls us.

At some point, we have to dig for a Christian faith beyond the inch-deep version that is making us far too comfortable where we are. We cannot be satisfied with entertainment. We cannot be content with the status quo.

Jesus is calling us to a discipleship that is heart-piercing and accountable to Him, as well as the believers around us. If we don’t answer that call and find the will to ask the hard questions (of our leaders and ourselves), we will continue to watch our churches dwindle and die. And we’ll continue to see “pastors” such as Mark Driscoll run roughshod over the Body of Christ.

And neither will take us one step closer to the Kingdom of God, or the Christian maturity that is so desperately needed in our postmodern world.

Whereas Real Love Happens in the Middle of the Storms

Last weekend, I had the privilege of a fun evening with a family in our church, where we took advantage of their new Karaoke Channel on Uverse. Unfortunately, my “privilege” was everyone else’s pain. I definitely have a chorus voice

My old friend and I turned back to a song from that oh-so-classic 80s group, New Edition (feel free to pause your reading for a laugh). Yes, we selected the timeless classic, “Can You Stand the Rain?” Please forgive the excessive 80s references here and take note of these lyrics:

Sunny days,

Everybody loves them,

But tell me baby,

Can you stand the rain?

Okay, so it’s a cheesy 80s pop/r&b song. And it’s a lot more Bobby Brown than U2 (if you don’t know who Bobby Brown is, then you may be too young to read blogs. And if you don’t know U2, get to Google ASAP). In spite of my inability to find a musical point of reference beyond 1989, those lyrics struck a strange theological chord in me.

Churches thrive on telling people what a loving group of people they are. Quite often, this might be true…IF things are going well. What happens when the storms come and it’s pouring down rain? How much do we love one another when the challenges of being a 21st Century church are pouring onto our hearts and minds?

Is our love strong enough to move us when we are called to love others as we love ourselves?

If you walk into most churches on a Sunday, you will encounter people who love one another. Oh, they may not love YOU right away (at least not until you fill out a visitor card), but they will exchange conversation and prayers and hugs and Christian concern. Our family attends a church where an outpouring of love is obvious.

But how much do we love others when we get down to the hard work of making decisions and discerning what the Lord wants us to do, and the very hard work of being Christian?

It’s very easy to talk the language of faith, love, unity and diversity. What happens when we are called to put those values into practice tells the truth about who we are and how real our love is, both for Christ and one another.

Faithfulness is simple when it only demands a couple of hours of our Sunday. As long as we don’t change the music too much and the preacher keeps us ahead of the Methodists at the buffet, we can keep that loving, caring atmosphere. We can love everybody, as long as most everybody looks like we do.

What happens when He says, “Pick up your cross and follow me?” Or give up our earthly wealth? Or wash the feet of others? And yes, Jesus commands all of that in the Bible, so take it up with him if it’s a problem.

FAITHFUL OBEDIENCE is a calling that pierces our heart. Can we–WILL we–continue to love even as we are called to be and do more in Christ?

Here’s the thing: Christians all over this country are facing crucial decisions about the future of the church. We are learning that Christianity is dirty and messy and difficult. The future of church demands the hard work of discipleship.

We are called to decide if we’re willing to put in the hard work of being disciples. And the only guaranteed “Return on Investment” is that things are going to look very different from the church we once knew.

We are now dealing with the fact that we cannot sustain our big, beautiful church buildings, much less utilize them to further the Kingdom of God. We can’t drive from our safe, suburban sanctuaries down to the inner city to get a dose of diversity, or wait until our summer mission trip to encounter people of color or the struggle of poverty.

Diversity is now sitting on our doorstep, and joining us in the pews. We are being called to engage with people who are not like us, and loving them just as we love one another in Christ.

We can choose to close our hearts and close our doors, protecting our particular brand of love just for those that we select. Or we can realize that Christianity was never supposed to be easy or white or managed or controlled. We can let Christ lead us to love even when the path He shows us is littered with challenges.

Please do not take this as some arrogant, self-righteous rant. There are days when I am chomping at the bit to race towards this new kind of Christianity. Then there are days when I encounter people and problems that make me say, “Really? This again?” I have plenty of times when I long to simply preach and teach and visit and love on people without the challenge of letting Christ radically change my heart.

 But those days are gone. The true test of our love for one another is our willingness to seek the way of the Lord and the leadership of the Spirit beyond ourselves. ANY church that will do this has a chance to continue a legacy of faithful ministry. If we close our doors and our hearts, the Holy Spirit will move past us.

There is one singular hope for the church in the midst of this identity crisis. You know what it is before I even say it, and it may even come across as a corny cliché. But the unity of spirit is only possible with a singular focus on the Living Christ.

We are being called to decide if we love the Lord enough to love one another as we are called to abandon our personal comfort zone of what church is supposed to be. And we must ask ourselves: If we can only love when there is no challenge, is it really Christ’s love that brought us together in the first place?

The true test of our faith is the ability to keep our heart focused and unified in Christ even when the waters are the roughest. Or, in the cheesy words of New Edition: Can we stand the rain?

Whereas an Educated Pastor Is not a “Dangerous” Thing

It has become the new fad in various Christian circles to declare that seminary/divinity school is a waste of time. I even follow a guy on Twitter who runs a podcast and blog called Seminary Dropout (@beardonbike). It’s definitively not an anti-seminary website, but it’s also no accident that it’s a catchy title and hash tag in this era of Christianity.

Then there are articles like this one, that tell us it’s “dangerous” to require a pastor to have a seminary education (or experience, or a certain marital status).

Let us leave the last two alone for now, and focus a little on the first requirement.

Why is it suddenly a bad thing to expect someone to be educated to do their job?

Okay, I confess: I WENT TO SEMINARY! And I confess again:  I LOVED it, thought it was great, and had a terrific experience. I still talk to friends from my class and professors from good old Pittsburgh Theological.

(Before anyone else can say it: Yes, it’s a Presbyterian (USA) seminary, and some would call it liberal and I really don’t care what you think. They gave me a full ride).

The growing anti-seminary, anti-education trend in Christian circles is an extremely troubling one. Perhaps it is my own sense of bias, or a great desire to justify three years of my life that I cannot get back. Or, perhaps I think that there is nothing wrong with a pastor/minister preparing for his/her vocation.

By the same token, perhaps others feel the need to justify their choice NOT to attend seminary; or perhaps they want people to be drawn to their particular brand of Christian higher education.

Whatever the logic of either side of the argument, there is no need to insult anyone for their position on this issue.

I certainly would not say that it’s “dangerous” for a church, that knows their circumstances and environment, to establish requirements for being pastor. Shouldn’t this decision be left to individual congregations? Doesn’t the church and/or its advisors understand their reasoning better than someone reading the classifieds?

No, seminary is not required for someone to do ministry (I have several friends in ministry that never attended). But there is certainly nothing empirically “dangerous” about a church asking their pastor to be well-educated.

The problem begins with a fundamental misunderstanding of what seminary is supposed to do. People seem to think that ministers should come out of seminary knowing how to be a pastor. In fact, some pastors come out of seminary thinking that they know how to be a pastor! What they need to think is, “Hey, now I’m ready to learn how to be a pastor!”

When people discover this little caveat, they sometimes take it to the next…um…”logical” step. The argument often goes something like this: “You can’t learn to be a pastor by going to school, so seminary is useless!”

And that is 100% legitimate. Education, for the most part, isn’t intended to make you good at something the minute you graduate. It is intended to prepare you to begin a journey of getting good at something.

I don’t think that going to medical school makes you a brain surgeon, but I’m not going to let someone cut open my skull unless they have a medical degree. You don’t need a degree to work in auto repair. But before I put my money down for you to work on my car, I want some assurance that you have some kind of training in your craft.

You absolutely cannot learn to be a minister in school, but you can learn a lot that will help you to become a better minister. The knowledge base, discipline, and relationships that you amass in seminary are certainly not bad things and can prove to be valuable tools.

Jesus DID spend 30 years of life preparing for a 3-year, whirlwind ministry, and He spent much of those three years teaching and training 12 guys to take the ball and run with it after His departure.

There is no doubt that seminary–like the church–needs a massive overhaul, and some of that is already happening. Even traditional seminaries and divinity schools are looking for creative ways to “fast-track” individuals who are called to ministry. I am all in favor of anything that reduces the amount of student loan debt for people in this country, particularly for pastors.

Changing the system does not mean eliminating it altogether, and it certainly doesn’t mean insulting those who choose to value the discipline. Christian higher education certainly needs to modernize, adapt, and lower the cost of the process; but they need to do so without devaluing the process.

Seminary trains you to be a minister much in the same way church trains you to be a Christian. It provides you the teaching, tools, knowledge and support to do what you need to do; but, the only way to ultimately learn is to go out and put it into practice.

But, in doing so, I hope that I don’t demand that my impression of the requirements for ministry are the only requirements that matter. There are plenty of opportunities to serve without a divinity degree, and that service is equally valuable to the Kingdom of God.

At the same time, I fear that we are coming to a place where we belittle those who want to further their education as well as those who expect their minister to do so. And we have no right to do either.

While it is essential to recognize that all are called, in various ways, to serve the Lord, criticism of a church for having certain expectations borders on being divisive and judgmental. Perhaps those who do not value seminary education can trust that God may still work through churches that do, and vice versa.

While I certainly fall on the “pro-seminary” side of this, I hope that I do not diminish those who feel the opposite way.

Expectations for ministers may vary from church to church, or ministry to ministry. Calling out others because their expectations are different is much more dangerous than the expectations themselves.

 

Transcendent Unity: Finding Hope in Our Common Confession

Two modern cultural creations illuminate strangely hidden secrets to the meaning of life. Those two creations are football and Seinfeld.

Before anyone blows a gasket because the pastor purports to worship at the House of Heinz or Monk’s Coffee Shop, please rest easy. I’m not giving up the Bible for Seinfeld on DVD (although season 4 is pretty amazing). However, we discover fascinating connections to scripture and life in some of our significant cultural phenomena.

We’ll tackle football another day (along with terrible puns). Today, we focus on the Theology of George Costanza.

In one Seinfeld episode, Jerry and Elaine connive to set up George with a date (no easy task for Costanza). In the conversation, George says, “Is she smarter than me? I don’t want anyone smarter than me!”

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HOW COULD SHE BE SMARTER THAN YOU???

I declare myself the anti-Costanza. I DO want someone smarter than me, and hopefully express gratitude daily that I found a wife who is smarter than me. Perhaps this explains my egalitarian views on marriage (and no, I do not feel that it is a “false gospel” to declare my wife =/>).

It only benefits me to gain wisdom from Tracy, and she shared a bit of wisdom with our church a few weeks ago that is worth sharing.

Perhaps I am compelled to post this due to the…um…”fellowship” of a church basketball game last night. A certain pastor (who could that be?) let his competitive nature get the best of him in a ball game with other Christians.

Names removed to protect the not-so-innocent.

Perhaps the organic formation of a community Thanksgiving service of churches on our street moves me to this. We will celebrate next Wednesday at 7pm at St. Michael Lutheran. This began with a couple of ministers having a conversation, and has now morphed into a service of sharing between the Baptists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, and Methodists.

Perhaps it is just that the Thanksgiving spirit–as in, the one that compels me not to shop or put up decorations or sing carols until after Thanksgiving Day–drives me to this post.

But I just have to share the excellent worship focus that Tracy offered in worship several weeks ago. It is rooted in the not-so-Baptist practice of reciting a creed, and one that focuses on what unites us. It stretches us to consider why we can gather with other Christians, no matter our denominational or theological differences, and worship in Spirit and in truth.

Whatever the reason, I am renewed by the need to find a spirit of worship and cooperation, and my wife expresses this in a much “smarter” way that is worth sharing:

A few months ago, the young adult group studied the book of 1 John, and we talked about the difference between doctrine and faith.  We got a little overwhelmed with the number of questions over which Christian denominations, churches, and individuals often fiercely disagree.

How should the church be governed?  What do our worship services look like?  How should people be baptized?  What instruments should we use in worship?  Can we clap?  What should our buildings look like?  What roles are appropriate for women in church?  How often should we serve communion?  Should we use real wine or grape juice?   Do we stand, kneel, or sit when we pray?  The list goes on and on.  There are so many doctrinal differences, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in how much we disagree.  We can forget that as Christians, the faith that we have in common is far more powerful and significant than any of our differences.

During Tom’s years in seminary, we attended a Presbyterian church.  As you may know, the Presbyterian denomination uses more corporate prayers, songs, and creeds than we normally use in the Baptist tradition.  Every week that we attended Sampson’s Mills Presbyterian, we recited the apostle’s creed, which is the oldest statement of faith in Christian tradition.  Its exact origin is not precisely known, but it was probably developed sometime between the second and fifth centuries.  For me back then, the apostle’s creed was often just a bunch of words, and I didn’t always think about its meaning or significance.

A few years after moving to North Carolina, we visited Pittsburgh and attended a service at Sampson’s Mills.  At the time, I happened to be feeling discouraged by some divisive issues in our home community, which had spilled over into our church.  I was growing weary of all the fussing and bickering between my friends, and for the moment, I was glad to have a break from it all.  

That morning, when everyone stood to recite the apostle’s creed, I was surprised to feel a sudden flood of emotion that almost brought me to tears.  I was struck by the power that I felt in hearing everyone say what they agreed upon about their faith.  I realized that THIS is what brings us together.  THIS is why we’re here.  Ephesians 2:8 tells us that it by grace that we are saved through FAITH.  The rest can be worked out.  We can agree to disagree on issues of doctrine, but issues of FAITH make us brothers and sisters in Christ. Ephesians 4:4-6 says, “4 There is one body and one Spirit,just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

I don’t want to say it every Sunday, because I don’t want to strip it of its significance.  But at this time, I would like to invite you to join me in saying the apostle’s creed, to remind us of our unity in the grace that God has given us through faith.  The text will be on the screen.

I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  

On the third day he rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.  

From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.  

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of believers, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.  Amen.     

-Written by Tracy LeGrand

Today, we remember the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the sharp division that existed in this nation upon his death. We remember the loss of C.S. Lewis, the challenging and sometimes divisive Christian author/theologian that presses us to consider Christ from a variety of perspectives. We remember Aldous Huxley, an author that warned us of what might happen by allowing fear and paranoia over our differences to overcome us, rather than celebrating our common humanity.

Yes, today is a very good day to remember the Christ that unites, and the things that we hold most dearly in spite of our political, philosophical and theological differences. We celebrate that we can often live, work and worship together with those with whom we may never agree in every aspect of faith and practice. We give thanks for a Christ that redeems us from our hot-headed judgments and even our stupidity, to remind us that Jesus is Lord over and above all things.

How glad I am that I married someone smarter than I. And thank God that she pushes me and others to understanding that goes well beyond football and Seinfeld.

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Need Blessings? Make a Thanksgiving Box!

As I shared in the sermon on Sunday, this is a time of year when we tend to focus on our material blessings.  This is a good thing, and make no mistake that these are blessings. Here’s the problem:  Sometimes we get so busy thinking about what we have, we forget that our greatest blessing is the ability to share what we have with others! 

This week, Augusta Heights is challenging you to do a small thing that can have a big impact. We are attempting to put together Thanksgiving meal boxes for 35 families in the community. We are working with local schools and the Samaritan House ministry to distribute these to those in need. By helping a few families with their basic, physical needs, we are reminded that Jesus always calls on us to seek to bless others above ourselves (Matthew 25:31-46).

All we need is for you to put together a meal with the following items:

– Green beans (large cans)

– Sweet potatoes (large cans or fresh)

-Bag of rice (white or brown)

-Bag/box of stuffing mix

-Gravy

-Rolls

-Dessert(s)

-At least one 2-liter drink

You can box these up together and bring them, or simply drop them in the food baskets around the church at Augusta Heights. Please feel free to call the church if you have questions. If you can bring these items by this Sunday, Nov. 24, we will work on putting them together. The church is providing turkeys for each box, and we will distribute these on Tuesday, Nov. 26.

This is yet another challenge that we are trying to meet as we serve our community. Take the time to remember that our greatest blessings happen when we let God make us a blessing for others.

Let the Holy Spirit lead you to be the blessing, for this is how we truly give thanks. May this be a time for us to remember that the spiritual blessing of loving others goes beyond any physical comfort that we have.

For those of you who are nowhere near Greenville, SC or Augusta Heights Church, find an organization in your community and ask what you can do to help–at Thanksgiving, or any other time!

Whereas I Am a Pastor Who Participates in Halloween

On a Thursday two weeks ago, also known as Halloween night, my wife and I were sitting on the front porch, light on, jack-o-lantern lit,  nibbling on the occasional Snickers, and welcoming trick-or-treaters.

Our neighbors across the street were sending some mixed signals. They had a dim light on the porch, and lights on in the house. Several youngsters went up to the door and rang the bell, with no response. A minute later, the lady of the house came out and put a child gate across the front steps to block anyone from going to the door.

The message went from mixed to loud and clear.

I have no idea why they didn’t make it clear from the start, or why they didn’t want trick-or-treaters. (Quite frankly, it’s none of my business). But the message of the gate was clear:  We don’t want you here.

I think that some Christian approaches to Halloween send the same message. The intent may be to say that we don’t participate in a holiday with a decidedly pagan and even sinister history. But the true message may be something quite different.

During the 80s, I sat through the youth rallies, worship services and video presentations of the 80s warning of the innate evil of October 31. I even participated in a few of the Halloween “alternatives” at various churches (boy, how THAT word has changed over the years!).

I thought the whole “anti-Halloween” furor had gone the way of Guess jeans and mullets, but apparently this continues to be a major issue for some groups of Christians. Dr. Albert Mohler has declared that it is far more dangerous than we actually want to believe.

As for me, I’m glad to say that I’m a pastor who participates in Halloween. We even have a horribly-carved pumpkin on our porch every October 31.

I tend to go with the point of view of Ed Stetzer, who points out that Halloween is a great opportunity to kick open the gates and meet the neighbors. No, I didn’t pass out any Bible tracts or brochures about Augusta Heights Church. But I did get to meet some kids from the neighborhood, and let a couple of new families from the street know that they had nothing to fear from the big, bad pastor living next door. (I’m afraid that is sometimes how people view us).

I do believe that there is real evil in the world and powers that we cannot fully comprehend, both evil and good. Combating evil is definitely a calling for Christians and the church.

At the same time, why would we give something power where power does not truly exist? Oct. 31 is a date on the calendar. What it means to some, or meant at one time to some, does not have to define what it is now.

I would not say that I “celebrate” Halloween, because that could imply that I somehow endorse what it has meant in history. I’m not a huge fan of horror movies or Twilight costumes or the ridiculous sex-ploitation outfits that are so popular. I certainly don’t advocate the absurd violence that occurs in some cities on Oct. 31, although such things are millions of miles away from my experience.

(As a sidenote, I’m overjoyed that my 14-year old daughter finds those sexy costumes “completely offensive and inappropriate”. Her words, not mine. Now if I can only get her to hold onto that attitude for at least the next 20 years…)

I do, however, celebrate the opportunity to sit on the porch and greet families from the neighborhood and laugh at the cute costumes of the kids. I celebrate the “Trunk or Treat” we have each year at Augusta Heights, where we get a chance to say “hello” to our neighborhood and show them that we are a welcoming congregation.  And I celebrate the memories of childhood, where my mom and dad had to come around in the car to drag me off the streets as I tried to set records for annual candy accumulation.

I know Darth Vader is part of the Galactic Empire, but is it really a bad thing to put on a pumpkin?

I know Darth Vader is part of the Galactic Empire, but is it really a bad thing to put on a pumpkin?

When it comes to Halloween, I certainly don’t mean to condemn or look down upon those who feel that it’s something for Christians to avoid. Still, it seems that the anti-Halloween crusade has failed miserably, as most such crusades tend to do.

It might be better to simply let the day be what it was for me:  A time to have fun with friends and family, and to act like neighbors in a world that is losing the meaning of that word. We can probably send our most powerful message against the “forces of darkness” by interacting with our neighbors than we do by putting up a gate to our front door.

If we want to crusade against anything, perhaps we need to offer a word about how we waste 7 billion dollars a year on the actual event of Halloween.  That might be a greater evil than anything All Hallows’ Eve ever cooked up.