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Australian philosopher, literary critic, and professional writer. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dress like a saint for Hallowe'en, say bishops

Catholic bishops in England and Wales are urging parents to dress up their kids as popular saints rather than as witches and devils, in order to show their faith. By "their" faith I mean the parents' faith of course. So once again we see a bunch of high-ranking religious leaders with a clever idea about how to influence the popular culture in a more godly direction.

Youngsters should be made to look like St. George, St. Lucy, St. Francis of Assisi or St. Mary Magdalene rather than celebrate death or evil or occult figures, according to a campaign endorsed by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.

Adults are encouraged to place lights in their window "as a sign to passers-by that yours is a Christian household and Christ is your light" and to wear a white garment to symbolize their "allegiance to Christ, our light."

They should not carve menacing or scary faces into pumpkins, but give them smiley expressions and crosses cut into the foreheads instead, the campaign advises.

Of course they have every right to say these things, especially to their own believers, and at least they're not calling for laws to ban the pagan-ish celebration of Hallowe'en - with its elements of Celtic folklore, Hollywood movies, and Zeus knows what else. All the same, there's something about all this that seems a bit pompous, humorless, and just plain silly.

I hope that none of our local Catholic parents here in Australia get it into their heads to make their kids dress up on the 31st of October to look like Francis of Assisi or Mary Magdalene (however, exactly, they are supposed to have looked).

14 comments:

Brian said...

What are the odds of a bucket load of mini-Mary MacKillops?

rjw said...

Now dressing up as a bishop on the other hand.... That's something that should strike fear in to the heart of any child.

Felix said...

That sounds like fun.
Just add some gregorian chants.
I am going to try to convince my kids to do this.

DEEN said...

If some of these saints' costumes end up looking like bishops, I'd say that's a quite appropriate outfit for Halloween. Hard to think of something that is scarier to kids than a Catholic bishop.

J. J. Ramsey said...

I have to say that when I read that, I thought, "There's a (probably bad) joke in there somewhere." I can certainly see someone dressing up as the pope for Halloween for reasons that the Catholic bishops probably wouldn't like.

Spencer Troxell said...

I think this is a good idea. Saints would make good Halloween costume material, especially the costume captures the moment of their--often gruesome--death.

Kirth Gersen said...

About 10-15 years back, our town cancelled Halloween celebrations and imposed a curfew on kids... because the 31st fell on a Sunday, and they didn't think it was "appropriate for the communuty to sully the Sabbath with occult pagan celebrations."

Sinead said...

Haha! I think this calls as an excuse to go way over the top creepy for halloween this year, might even buy a pumpkin!

MosesZD said...

How about dress as a peodophile priest? Or, better yet, Young Nazi Ratzinger...

Anonymous said...

If they need an example for that "crosses cut into foreheads" part, here's a good reference image. Would love to see these in all the church windows.

Blake Stacey said...

A cross cut into the forehead is pretty damn freaky, too — serious neo-Nazi serial-killer vibe going on there.

Irene Delse said...

Dressing like saints? Hmm, I see. But the dear bishops may not be too happy if kids took to the streets for Halloween in the company of a wolf (like St. Francis of Assisi), or filthy and in rags (like St. Roch), or if girls were inspired to dress up like virgin martyrs, with fake blood, fake wounds and fake severed organs (eyes gouged out for St. Lucia, breasts cut for St. Agatha, etc.)! Careful what you wish for...

Svlad Cjelli said...

A friendly pumpkin would probably be an invitation to demons under old tradition.

And St. Lucy is a pretty gory freaking saint. She's been used as a mild horror story around here.
Of course, that might be the bishop's point - here are some non-demonic scary costumes!

latsot said...

I genuinely dread to think what would happen to children at the hands of other children if they marauded around my part of North-East England at night dressed as saints.

As for putting evangelical signs in windows.... are they aware that Hallowe'en is *TRICK* or treat night? The kids round here *really* mean it.

I gues the injured parties could put it down to militant atheism rather than blatantly asking for it.