What’s So Bad About Halloween?

For years I’ve had one dream costume in mind, one character I’d love to portray on Halloween: The Great Pumpkin (I wrote about this last year too). Unless I’m mistaken, the idea for this Halloween costume came to me while I was in Brazil. There, Halloween is still a foreign holiday celebrated only at parties and with no tradition of Trick-or-Treating. Almost always it is associated with images of death, gloom and the occult. It wasn’t easy to explain to people there that in the United States an adult or child can dress up as a princess, a robot, a ballet dancer or some other innocuous character without anyone thinking it odd or inappropriate. For many it’s a time of fantasy, not necessarily darkness.

When I was growing up my elementary school had an annual Halloween party. Local ladies were brought in to judge the costumes in the afternoon, so we had a fun half-day of school. My mother always complained that the judges – ladies who were children during the Great Depression – always chose the kids dressed as hobos, despite whatever elaborate homemade outfit some other parent had made for their kids. I think she was right. Anyway, the two years I most remember were when I went as a spaceman, and then as a wizard. My oldest brother had a certain genius for making excellent costumes from ordinary items. For example, the spaceman outfit came with a ray-gun made from a mop handle and a red metal clamp. All my classmates thought it was the best part of my outfit.

Sure, this is the season when Wiccans celebrate Samhain (other neo-pagan groups have other festivals either earlier or later in this season). It doesn’t bother me that Satanic groups (described by most neo-pagans as a subset or branch of Christianity rather than true paganism) may be meeting in cemeteries or elsewhere for Black Masses, so long as no crimes are being committed. I’m not phased if a Wiccan at home or with her/his coven practices special ceremonies on or around Halloween. None of that has anything to do with what I see in this holiday, or what I teach my family or promote in my church. Above all, I do not believe the true and living God is threatened by any of these practices.

When I dressed up as a child for Halloween, I was captivated by the fantasy, and as I have written recently, the fantasy for me served to provide a glimpse of the divine behind creation. Though I respect parents who decide not to allow their children to participate in Halloween activities due to issues of conscience, that’s not a decision I feel comfortable making for my children. I would hate to deprive them of something of the mystery and “magic” of childhood, something that could well provide a step into trusting the Creator. For the same reason I am saddened by “Autumn Festivals” or “Harvest Festivals” put on by churches wherein children are discouraged from wearing costumes, or else are told to dress as biblical characters (how can you tell the prophet Isaiah from Paul the apostle?). Zombies and occult figures may reasonably be prohibited from such church festivities, but why not allow a fairy princess, robot or even the Great Pumpkin?

Linus sat in that pumpkin patch, year after year, going without candy and fun in the hope of meeting his private mythical hero. It seems to me that perhaps Linus had a better grasp of things than most of us. He denied the seen in favor of the unseen. By faith, however misplaced, he sought someone just behind the scenes, perhaps even the One who made the Reality behind the fantasy.

What’s so bad about Halloween? Not much, when I really think about it.

Read All The October Synchrobloggers!

The Christians and the Pagans Meet for Samhain at Phil Wyman’s Square No More

Our Own Private Zombie: Death and the Spirit of Fear by Lainie Petersen

Julie Clawson at One HandClapping

John Morehead at JohnMorehead’s Musings

Vampire Protection by Sonja Andrews

What’s So Bad About Halloween? at Igneous Quill

H-A-double-L-O-double-U-double-E-N Erin Word

Halloween….why all the madness? by Reba Baskett

Steve Hayes at Notes from the Underground

KW Leslie at The Evening ofKent

Hallmark Halloween by John Smulo

Mike Bursell at Mike’s Musings

Sam Norton at Elizaphanian

Removing Christendom from Halloween at On Earth as in Heaven

Vampires or Leeches: A conversation about making the Day of the Dead meaningful by David Fisher

Encountering hallow-tide creatively by Sally Coleman

Kay at Chaotic Spirit

Apples and Razorblades at Johnny Beloved

Steve Hayes at Notes from the Underground

Fall Festivals and Scary Masks at The Assembling of the Church

Why Christians don’t like Zombies at Hollow Again

Peering through the negatives of mission Paul Walker

Sea Raven at GaiaRising

Halloween: My experiences by Tim Victor’s Musings

Making Space for Halloween by Nic Paton

Young Trees

A couple of weeks ago I took the picture below from my car on the way home from my “day job” at AT&T Mobility. It’s a scene of what most people would call “woods” and my father probably would have called “brush.” When I moved to New Jersey a couple of years ago, I was surprised by how many trees there were. Being the most urbanized state in the Union, I didn’t expect anything but houses, lawns, apartment buildings and skyscrapers.

In Missouri, where I’m from, you’ll see a lot of woods but also a lot of open farmland. Here in this part of New Jersey farm land has been replaced by housing developments over the past few decades. Unoccupied land becomes a tree-filled haven for small wild animals (even deer, not-so-small) instead of fields. Though I love to see land in agricultural production, if urban areas are going to have so many trees, I can only see it as a good thing. Let the rural areas plant crops and the urban areas grow trees. That’s just fine with me.

My Next Job

It’s not my ultimate dream job, but it is the next step. I’m looking for a position as a Telecom Manager.

What’s a “Telecom Manager”? Essentially, it’s the person who manages wireline, wireless and broadband communications for a company. Though this individual may have training and experience in IT work, this isn’t necessarily part of the job description. IT Administration is one thing, and Telecommunications Management is another.

A Telecom Manager has the somewhat disagreeable task of keeping telecommunications up and running for the company, which normally entails a lot of time on the phone talking to customer service representatives. For example, an executive is getting ready to travel overseas to Europe. Who calls the mobile phone company to make sure that the phone is enabled for international use? The Telecom Manager. A sales person has lost her cell phone. Who calls to get it suspended and then orders a new one? The Telecom Manager. You get the point.

With my prior experience as minister, a missionary in Brazil, an ESL teacher and now with the National Business Services division of AT&T Mobility, I definitely believe I have the experience and skills required to be a Telecom Manager. Social and communication skills are a must for this sort of position, as is a lot of patience and also a great deal of familiarity with telecommunications. Currently I spend my days fixing problems major companies and governments are having with their cell phones. I run multiple systems and can work through a problem pretty effectively with process of elimination and basic troubleshooting skills.

Though I’d gladly take a position that pays well and has a full benefits package with any company in New Jersey or New York City, I’d personally prefer a law firm. Besides my interest in law, I actually took a couple of college-level paralegal classes and worked for a few months as a legal assistant in a small Jersey City firm before the position closed and I moved on to AT&T. If I could find work with a mid-sized or large law firm as a Telecom Manager, I’d be willing and able to assume some office duties that would include paralegal work. The experience would be worthwhile, and would contribute to my ongoing plans for the future.
Books about the profession:

The Irwin Handbook of Telecommunications Management

The Telecom Manager’s Survival Guide: The Essential Reference for Telecommunications Systems, Solutions, and Cost Control

Waiting for Citizenship

My wife sent in her application to start the process for U.S. citizenship in late July. It is now the middle of October, and we still haven’t heard anything back. The USCIS cashed the check and we have the proof of receipt from the post office, but no word from U.S. immigration and naturalization. We were worried, but then I checked their website and learned that they are behind on a lot of cases. Apparently there was a rush of people filing before the rates went up, and that’s slowed everything down.

It’s a bit frustrating when you’re trying to do “the right thing” in the government’s eyes, and it doesn’t cooperate. My wife is legally in this country, having entered legally with the proper paperwork and approvals. She’s lived here peacefully the requisite amount of time and is no burden on society…and yet we wait.

New York Bagels

It must have been the late 1980s or early 1990s when the first bagel store opened in Kirksville, Missouri. At that time only a couple of supermarkets even carried bagels, and they only had “plain.” Interested, my family bought some bagels and got some cream cheese. I wasn’t terribly impressed.

Since that time I’ve had occasion to eat a bagel now and then, but never with much gusto. Then I discovered New York bagels. I don’t know what the difference is (maybe the type and quantity of cream cheese they use) but now whenever I go to New York City I like to get one. I even have a certain deli I like to go to, just about a block away from the Empire State Building, to get a toasted bagel with cream cheese.

Like I said, I don’t know what is different about it. Even here in New Jersey I enjoy bagels now (not as much as in New York, though). Maybe my tastes have changed. It’s funny, though, how one’s perspective changes with time. There have been books that were on my shelf for years that never caught my attention, and suddenly they mean the world to me. There have been places I’ve visited that held no significance for me at the time, but that now I’d love to visit. There are activities I’ve engaged in and loved that now have lost their savour.

Life is not static, and apparently not a straight line either. That’s one reason why people need to be given room to change, grow or even decline. That’s what having free will and living in a variable universe does for us.

There may be a time for everything, even hating or loving bagels.

Not In Missouri Anymore!

The picture above was taken on my way home from work last week. I took the Garden State Parkway instead of Route 17-South because of the rain. Here in north and central New Jersey every rainstorm slows traffic to a crawl. The night I took this picture I didn’t even have time to stop at my house before going to my second job. It was a mighty long day. The worst traffic problems I ever had to face in northeast Missouri were: deer, tractors and rock trucks.

Arrived Safely

We got word late this afternoon that my mother-in-law, Ana, made it safely home to Uberlândia. The family there was thrilled to have her back, and apparently pretty happy with all the gifts she had for them too!

Now that blogger is uploading photos again, I’m including one of my mother-in-law and my daughter that was taken in New York.