7 Tips for Christians on Halloween (rerun)

This post was first published in 1999 and has been reprinted many times on various websites (with permission only, please). This seems like a good time to bring it up again.

halloween-by Larisa Koshkina publicdomainpicturesdotnet
Artwork by Larisa Koshkina

Whether you consider Halloween pure evil or harmless fun, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Don’t get bent out of shape. The kid dressed as a bunny—or a vampire—knocking on your door isn’t actualizing centuries of Pagan ritual. He’s just having fun, with the permission of his parents, and encouragement from the culture in which he lives. If you don’t participate, there’s no reason to post a sign declaring your righteous stand against the child. Just turn off the light and don’t answer the door.
  2. Children Trick-or-Treat. Trick-or-treat is not the venue for abortion photos, political pamphlets, or descriptions of hell. If you pass out gospel tracts, make sure they’re child-friendly. Attach candy or toy (no choking hazards, please) to tracts with tape. A tract without a treat disappoints and gives parents cause to complain about Christians.
  3. Be nice.  It is never God’s will for us to be unloving. Wiccans know that Christians demonize them the most on Halloween. Yes, the Bible teaches against witchcraft and all occult activity. It also teaches that God is not willing that any should perish. I’ve listened with revulsion to some Christians who can’t quite mask their glee at the idea of witches going to hell. God’s love and mercy is infinite. He desires the Wiccan, the dabbler, even the Satanist, to come to him for forgiveness and abundant, eternal life. Many do. But never because of unkind treatment.
  4. Keep it clean. Some things are best left unsaid. I like a good pretend monster story, but don’t take this opportunity to recount the details of a real gruesome Halloween murder. “It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” (Ephesians 5:12). I don’t want to know.
  5. Be a light in the darkness. “Be very careful then, how you live–not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV). Some Christians hand out Halloween gospel tracts. Some gather with fellow believers for alternative celebrations, sharing love with the community. Some mix it up, shining as a light in the world. Others quietly continue in the ordinary, noting their separateness before God as an act of worship.
  6. Do the right thing.  You alone will answer for your choices. If someone else does Halloween a different way, so what? God knows your heart. “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom.” (James 2:12, NIV)
  7. Be good. You can’t overcome evil by talking about the Pagan origins of Halloween, or by preaching against séances or refined sugar. There is a place for teaching, but knowledge doesn’t heal. Only good overcomes evil.  “Overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

Copyright 1999, 2009, 2018  Kathryn A. Frazier. All rights reserved.  Contact author for reprint information. http://www.kathrynafrazier.com

Create and Share for Inktober

Copyrighted 2018 Kathryn A. Frazier

Welcome, Creative Peeps!

Copyrighted 2018 Kathryn A. FrazierToday is the first day of October! The leaves are golden and red, the birds are flying south, and there’s that lovely nip in the air that hints of the coming frost. Haha! Just kidding. Here in Tampa, it’s a cool 92 degrees, the leaves stay green all year, and the only frost is in my freezer. We get a nice variety of birds from up north, though. That’s my favorite part of Fall in Florida.

You might not have need of sweaters, but wherever you live and whatever the climate, you can still get in on Inktober! I just found out about this cool thing and I knew you all would appreciate it. The gist is this: Every day in October (or every other day, or every fifth day), you draw something in ink. It can be simple or elaborate. You can take a long time or a short time. The point is to draw something. Create. Have fun with art, and then share your art with someone. You can post it online and tag it #inktober and #inktober2018, or you can just show it to someone in your life. Make art, share art, have fun.

dammit jim

I’m not an artist; I’m a writer and copyeditor. Like all human beings, however, I am creative. I started #inktober2018 with this three-minute doodle. It’s amateurish, which is perfect because I’m an amateur. I like that it captured my melancholy mood and gave me a little creative break in the day. I drew a little girl because drawing reminds me of when I was little and drew all the time. In those days, I didn’t see any imperfections. I delighted in being able to create with nothing but a pen and a paper. I hope my simple drawing encourages you to dedicate a few minutes of your day to get in touch with your own creative inner child.

To find out more about Inktober, visit https://inktober.com.

Are you participating in #Inktober this year? Please share a picture or two (or 31!) in the comment section! What else do you do to bring creative breaks into your everyday life? How are you encouraging others to express their own creativity? Let me know in the comments.

Hugs,
Kathy

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Sticks and Stones

girl in classroom Joanna Jablo public domain picturesPicture by Joanna Jablo

Hello, darlings!

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words shall never harm me! Remember that old saying? We sang it in the schoolyard as we skipped away from meanies, heads held high. It was the definitive answer to every bullying insult.

Sometime around 1990, child-rights activists in the U.S. denounced this once popular adage as a flat-out lie. Of course words can harm people, they insisted. And they were right. They encouraged parents and teachers to rethink the way we speak to and about children. Instead of telling our kids they are “bad” when they disobey, as perhaps our grandparents once did, we now know to pinpoint specific behaviors as choices that do not yield desired results. Words do count. They not only express thought, but they change thought.

But now I think it’s time we bring back Sticks and Stones. These days, grown-up people fall apart when they hear a word they don’t like. Leaders in our society publicly demand apologies nearly every week. Going to court–or worse, to violence–over insults and name-calling is common. As adults, we know that much of this nonsense is showboating for attention or politics or money or whatever, but little eyes are watching. The most vulnerable among us don’t know the difference. We are teaching our children to fear words.

As young children, we old-timers were taught the Sticks and Stones saying as a self-defense mechanism. When it slipped our minds, when we felt most vulnerable, our parents, our teachers, and our friends all reminded us: “Those kids at school called you ugly and stupid? They called you a bad name? So what? Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words shall never harm you.”

And we felt better. We learned not to crumble in humiliation and not to retaliate. Rather, we could let hurtful words roll off of us without consequence. The proverb empowered us, reminding us that insults and name-calling are non-issues. No, it didn’t protect us from out-and-out emotional abuse, but it cushioned us from the barbs of everyday spats and squabbles. We learned that there are levels of wrongdoing and that an insult is not a life-or-death issue. We learned that some people will always say mean things and we can choose to ignore them. We learned to be strong without being tough.

Of course, when lines are crossed, when violence, threating behavior, or discrimination is involved, or when even name-calling becomes inescapable bullying, we must pull in the reins with whatever legal means are necessary to protect the innocent. That’s often not the case, though. Often, someone just doesn’t like what someone else says and so demands that the words must be labeled and censored. Children pick up on adult attitudes. Remember the big picture. In a country where we want to keep the right to say what we think and believe, we need to demonstrate that we are strong enough to allow others that same freedom. Even if others are meanies.

If Sticks and Stones doesn’t work for you, try this one: “I’m rubber and you’re glue. Anything you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.” It’s a little harsher, but it’s still a classic.

How were you taught to handle insults, name-calling, and differing opinions when you were a child? Have your responses changed now that you are an adult? What do you think about public apologies for ignorant or profane language?

Hugs,
Kathy

P.S. Chag Samaech Sukkot to those celebrating the Festival of Tabernacles this week!

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My week in review: Isolated with infectious disease

Hola, Writer Peeps!

Kathy at hospital Sep 2018
This isn’t how I planned to spend my week.

Have you ever been referred to an infectious disease specialist? It’s a freaky experience. I just got home from the hospital where I’ve been fighting a gnarly antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection in my kidneys. I say fighting, but my role in the fight has been mostly to sleep. They put me in isolation with a warning on my door. They hooked me up to a continual heart monitor. No one was allowed to approach me without paper gowns and rubber gloves that they tossed on their way out before stepping into the hallway. Food and water had to be brought to me by a health care worker in full gown get-up because the cafeteria people weren’t allowed in. My husband Frazierhead, bless his heart, stayed at my side every minute.

Because I’m responding well to treatment and getting better (Yay!), they released me yesterday afternoon with instructions to stay home and visit an infusion center every day for a week for IV treatments. The plan is to test again after the treatments to make sure it’s all gone. Full recovery is expected. (Yay again!)

I asked about the risk to my family members. The specialist, who shook my husband’s hand but not mine, and stood a couple of feet away from me in the full get-up, said, “As long as they’re washing their hands, they should be fine.” So, you know. I’m Lysolling everything. (FYI: See what I did there with the word Lysol? That’s called verbing.)

Anyway, I love you all dearly, but I didn’t write anything for you this week. I refer you instead to the following great article by Tess Callahan at Writer’s Digest:

Train Your Eye for Better Writing:
3 Writing Techniques Adapted from the Visual Arts

Do you paint or sketch and also write? I’d love your take on the article. I don’t paint or sketch for real, just for fun sometimes, but I think the article is on point.

Have you ever been in medical isolation? Tell me your story so I won’t feel so alone. (Get it? Get it? Isolated. Alone. Hahahahahaha!)

I’m going back to bed now. Hope to see you next week.

Hugs,
Kathy

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This classic Monty Python scene seems appropriate today. Rated PG.

Why Does God Do That?

Moon with thunder
Image by George Hodan. publicdomainpictures.net

Shana Tova! (“Happy Year!”) Today is the first day of the Jewish year. According to tradition, it has been 5779 years since the creation of the world. We call this holiday Rosh Hashana, “Head of the Year.” Last night, celebrants in synagogues and homes–and a handful of churches–blew shofars and sang and danced and prayed, and ate round bread with honey-dipped apples (and maybe a nice brisket, some noodle kugel, and a few sips of Manischewitz).

The Bible doesn’t actually give us the date of creation. That date was calculated centuries ago by a devout Jewish scholar named Maimonides. His calculations in the Mishna Torah (“Repetition of the Teaching”) tell us how to figure the current Hebrew year. (I just go by whatever hebcal.com says.) So Rosh Hashana is not Biblical; it is a man-made holiday. And why not? I’m all about a good party.

vintage-animal-poster public domain
CC0 1.0 Image thanks to Karen Arnold at publicdomainpictures.net.

But isn’t Rosh Hashana the Biblical Feast of Trumpets?
No, but also kinda yes. It’s celebrated as if it were one and the same as the Festival (or Feast, if you’re old school) of Trumpets–in Hebrew Yom Teruah (“Day of [trumpet] Blasting/Shouting”). Yom Teruah is the high holiday commanded in the Bible. Numbers 29:1 says, “On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It is a day for you to sound the trumpets.”

Since the Festival of Trumpets is not about the new year, what is it about? Why was it commanded? No one knows. People have opinions, of course, but the Festival of Trumpets is the only Festival of the LORD with no explanation given.

Could that no-explanation thing be the reason we so gleefully turn the Festival of Trumpets into Rosh Hashana? Instead of wondering at the mystery of the holiday, we tell ourselves it is about creation, the new year, and food.

I think we all have trouble sitting with the idea of no explanation. This spills over into every aspect of my own spiritual life. Maybe yours, too? I struggle with the why of so many things–big things like hell, violence, inequality, suffering, and disease; and small things like why I can’t keep my days and nights straight.

I don’t have the answers, but I think about it this way. The Old Testament contains a lot of rules about food, sex, washing, etc. There’s a lot of laws given with no reasons, only the promise, “If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26, NIV)

On this side of time, we get it. We know that eating whatever crawls by, having sex with whatever crawls by, marrying our close relatives, and general dirtiness are all prescriptions for diseases. Through the eyeglasses of modern knowledge, we confidently state that God gave those rules to protect the Israelites from parasites, STDs, genetic abnormalities, and a whole host of icky germs. We feel good because we’re convinced we understand.

But think about this: The people living in that time didn’t understand. It took faith to toss out perfectly good stew just because a roach crawled into it, or tear down and rebuild an entire wall instead of plastering over mold, or carry load after load of water to keep up with all the washing. In those days, germs were unimaginable. But they still existed. Even though God didn’t explain, there was a real reason. Protection from diseases surely resulted from following the laws for no other reason but faith.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”(Hebrews 11:1, NIV)

I don’t know why so much heartache exists on this planet. You can blame a fallen earth, mankind’s free will, blah, blah, blah. Those answers don’t fully satisfy me. Yet, I imagine that one day we will understand it all as easily as we understand why we should wash our dishes. Until then, I lean on faith. I struggle with the why but not with the who. I trust God. Just because I don’t understand doesn’t mean there isn’t a real reason.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5, NIV)

Hugs,
Kathy
——–
Related posts
I am for My Beloved and My Beloved is for Me

High Holidays: What if I Do it Wrong?

Hey! L’shana Tova!

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Top 10 Myths About Hanukkah

Kathryn A. Frazier

lighting-menorah-hanukkah-2010 My youngest daughter, Angie

As a Christian who celebrates Hanukkah, I’m used to the raised eyebrows and careless remarks that come from misunderstanding.

So, to head off a few of them, here are the Top Ten False, Incorrect, Not True, Wrong, Myths about Hanukkah.

#10 Hanukkah was made so Jews would have something to do during Christmas. Wrong. The celebration of Hanukkah began well nearly two hundred years before the birth of Jesus.

#9 Hanukkah is a Jewish Christmas. No, it’s not. It’s a totally different holiday that falls around the same time of the year as Christmas.

#8 Rabbis decide when to celebrate every year. No. Hanukkah moves around on our modern Gregorian calendar, but it always begins the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, and continues for eight days.

Hebrew calendar date converter

#7  The word Hanukkah means “Festival of Lights.” No. Even though we call the holiday the Festival of…

View original post 425 more words

NOT Jewish Christmas: Why we celebrate Hanukkah

Website reboot coming for New Year 2018. In the meantime, I’m posting holiday re-runs. May your holidays truly be holy days.

Kathryn A. Frazier

Hanukkah_menorah from wikimedia commons

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“But that’s your Christmas,” my neighbor insisted, after I explained to her that the menorah on the table was for Hanukkah.

“No,” I said. “It’s not. It’s Hanukkah.”

“Right. Your Christmas.” She smiled her tolerant smile.

“It’s a different thing…” I started, but she had made up her mind.

***

Sitting next to me on the airplane, the seminary student complained that he didn’t understand Jews.  “Why do they do Hanukkah?” he asked. “It’s not even in the Bible.”

He was visibly surprised when I told him that Hanukkah is mentioned in the New Testament. The word Hanukkah means “dedication”. It was during the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) that Jesus declared himself to be the promised Messiah, God in the flesh (John 10:22-23).

So, what do you know about Hanukkah? Do you think of it as a Jewish Christmas?  Is it something that “they” do…

View original post 1,098 more words

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