About Halloween

In case you haven’t noticed, I love it.

I’ve been reading a few posts about it and why some Christians celebrate and others don’t and historic origins and all of that, but the truth is that this is the sort of thing I’m used to being on the outside about. I have always had a taste for the dead things, I’ll never forget giving a full on informational speech about the history of the vampire mythology my freshmen year in high school, fully decked out in black as I always was those days, to utter and complete silence. “Um, well thanks Amy,” my teacher said. Ha! I have never felt a conflict in myself between the thrill of loving a good vampire story (or zombie story these days) and loving Jesus. I have only known that others thought I should feel it. I reckon this is a little bit how gay people feel.

Apparently, Halloween of today glamorizes Hell. I can see that argument. But I also don’t think that monsters always equal hell. Monsters are monsters…and in most cases fiction.

But I’m getting a bit off subject. The thing is that I AM sensitive to the other side of this issue. I do believe there is an unseen world and I do believe we battle spirits. But unfortunately, so many times I have seen Christians fabricate stories of spiritual warfare or pass false stories on fully believing they are the truth. These stories are usually shared in a spirit of fear and meant to caution us. But I think it can be a kind of spiritual abuse and another way to urge others on to legalism.

I’m not really saying anything about what others do, unless you’re sitting huddled around telling spiritual warfare stories of people becoming so demon possessed they shapeshift. Just because I don’t feel a conflict in loving vampire stories and Jesus doesn’t mean you don’t–if you do, I mean, I think you should choose Jesus. We all have to find our own paths and they won’t be identical.

In closing I leave you with this Wendell Berry quote I stole off Stephen’s twitter feed which he in turn I think, nabbed from a David Dark lecture.

“Respect, I think, always implies imagination – the ability to see one another, across our inevitable differences, as living souls.”

Reflections

Awhile ago, I read a post on Rachel Held Evan’s blog about the comfort of ritual during grief. I thought there was a lot of truth and wisdom in her words and they came to mind again a few weeks ago.

Having grown up in a church with very little religious form, one might suspect there’s not much ritual. It’s why, I think, the Christmas season is so special. Not only is it a time to take stock of one’s life, to reflect and let hope breathe, but it’s full of tradition.

Even so, there are things about the kind of Christianity I was immersed in during my years growing up that still brings me comfort. I was having a bad day. My roommate’s brother had just passed away unexpectedly half a world away. Something happened with a friend that I thought could have quite negative repercussions for other friends due to a bit of unintentional thoughtlessness on my part. I was down.

I needed to buy some cards so I headed to the Christian bookstore. I hated pretty much every card, but I wasn’t ready to go home yet, so I wondered over to the art section. The only art in a Christian bookstore is generally labeled with a verse of some sort but as I started reading the verses and looking at the accompanying artwork, I was surprised at how the familiarity of this touched something inside of me. It reminded me, there in that profit driven Christian bookstore, what it is that faith gives us, why we order our lives around it. The appeal of it. In the end, there is comfort. Comfort for the days that are filled with pain, hope that we won’t always be the same person. And the shared experience. The shared beliefs, the common hope. The community that begins even with the expressed shared belief in Jesus.

When I see it like this, it is so achingly beautiful to me. I walked around and looked at all that artwork and teared up. These verses, sometimes so over quoted as to seem trite, really do hold power in the dark moments. Not just because of what they say, but because they are words I knew from birth, the words that held steady in every year, the words that found a way into my life in every season. They are deeply woven into my story, my consciousness, who I am.

(I realize the Bible is not a ritual, it was the combination of the familiarity of a Christian bookstore and the way we use the Bible in evangelical Protestant America)

My Car–How I Love You

My car has cost me a lot of money this year. It’s not a terribly old car and it has only 50,000 miles on it, but it sure seems like it’s been problematic. I’ve had to have new brakes, new tires, servicing, and then by my own fault, I’ve had two tickets in the past six months. Okay so that’s not my car’s fault…it’s all me!

Today I took it to get the oil changed and was feeling happy like I always do when the oil is all brand spanking new and such, but I was heading over to my parents house when a dreaded light popped on freaking me out. The malfunction indicator light. There didn’t seem to be any big problem, but then when I slowed down it started jerking or sputtering. I’m not a happy camper. I had plans to go to the book festival tomorrow and was really looking forward to it. (not to mention I’m limping along financially)

My parents let me borrow one of their cars so I can still go and as I was driving home I realized how uncomfortable I was in it. There’s something about one’s own car–you’re just so intimate with it, knowing exactly where everything is and how it feels and runs. In fact, I realized just how much my car feels like an extension of myself, I am perhaps more comfortable there than anywhere else in the world.

I love driving. I love the feel of being in the car, I love the way the car creates a little space around you where you can you talk out loud (pray), or listen to music, or just think. There’s a little bit of a feeling of control in a car, you master the speed and the direction. I think best there, and I often use driving as a way to de-stress, I love just taking off in the car.

There’s a part of me that knows it’s selfish. Bad for the environment, that it contributes, like so many other things to our increasing sense of isolation, autonomy, and loneliness. I lived in a city where the public transportation was top notch, and when I first moved back to the States I wanted that again. To be able to so easily hop on a train and go somewhere. But it has its disadvantages–there is definitely no space around you during rush hour on a train in Tokyo.

I hope whatever is wrong with my car does not take a long time to fix. Thankfully it’s still under warranty. I can’t wait, already, to get it back and go for a drive.