The Death of Halloween?

fallcolors1H/T: Here

Death to Halloween! (Very Scary!)
Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov

It is that time of year again when Orthodox and some other Christian writers attempt to warn people about the evils of Halloween. They assert—and I have done no less in my much younger days—that Halloween is a pagan holiday, and thus everyone who participates in its celebrations by default participates in the ancient Gaelic harvest festival called Samhain (“summer’s end”). As I grew older I saw that the people who dress up as princesses and Marvel super heroes have about as much to do with devil worship (for this is often the claim) as people who send each other Christmas cards or Easter candy have to do with worshiping Jesus Christ. This is all that I will say about it, and it may be a topic for another time. For myself, I still do not see any need to celebrate Halloween any more than I do the Chinese New Year, the Parinirvana Day, Eid-al-Adha, or Yom Kippur. But I am no longer interested in writing pseudo-pious articles linking my neighbors’ children to devil worshipers for merely dressing up in costumes any more than I am interested in condemning Russian Orthodox Christians for making (and partaking of!) pancakes on Maslenista, since pancakes are an ancient pagan symbol of the cult of the Sun (round, yellow, hot—reminds of anything?).

However, the grinches of Halloween (of whom I am chief) just might see the death of it after all. And no, it is not our fiery blog posts and inspirational sermons that are killing the evil practice of carving pumpkins and exchanging miniature candy bars. No, the butcher of Halloween is the modern phenomenon of super-sensitivity and hyper-offendedness. It is insensitive to dress up as a princess because this is a class misappropriation and may offend real princesses. Likewise, one should not dress up as a prince or a knight, unless the same is in fact a prince or a knight. No more Count Dracula costumes—they may be insensitive towards ethnic Transylvanians and persons bearing the noble title of count. Definitely, no Cowboys or Indians—for very obvious reasons. The Little Mermaid costume may offend persons with sirenomelia. A pirate costume is insensitive to people who have been victims of real pirates. (And it may also offend Somali-Americans due to the Western stereotyping of Somali pirates in the MSM.) Certainly, no more skeletons, zombies, or any other costume with reference to injury or death, because they may trigger traumatic experiences in some people. And no, no more children dressed as teddy bears, cats, or any other animal—speciesism and misappropriation! No more black capes. Period. They offend Orthodox clergy. Obviously, nothing sexy due to the abomination of objectification! No more nurses, nuns, witches, firemen, or clowns. I should not have to go on; the pious reader will understand the principle by which any costume is inappropriate unless worn by the very actual person it pretends to portray.

Halloween decorations are no less harmful in our culture. Heads carved out of pumpkins risk offending people who are sensitive to all of the recent beheadings committed by Islamic terrorists. Fake hanging corpses are unacceptable because they trigger the historical trauma of lynching. Spiders and spider webs are offensive to people with arachnophobia; and the fake RIP tombstones are insensitive to those who recently lost their loved ones. No more scarecrows in the yard, because they may scare people who are scared of scarecrows. There simply is not a single piece of Halloween decoration that is not insensitive or outright offensive to someone!

It is very possible that in our lifetime, the greeting “Happy Halloween!” will finally be replaced with the neutral “Happy holidays!” and everyone will walk around dressed strictly as themselves, exchanging carrot and celery sticks. (Candies are offensive to people without dental insurance and may be a conspiracy of the dental lobby.) Perhaps then, Orthodox bloggers with stop writing about the horrors of Halloween and focus instead on the memory of the Evangelist Luke or Saint Joseph of Volotsk, whose memory we celebrate on October 31 (those on the new calendar will have a pick of several of the Seventy Disciples.)

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The wrong kind of social life

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“No front porches. My uncle says there used to be front porches. And people sat there sometimes at night, talking when they wanted to talk, rocking, and not talking when they didn’t want to talk. Sometimes they just sat there and thought about things, turned things over. My uncle says the architects got rid of the front porces because they didn’t look well. But my uncle says that was merely rationalizing it; the real reason, hidden underneath, might be they didn’t want people sitting like that, doing nothing, rocking, talking; that was the wrong kind of social life. People talked too much. And they had time to think. So they ran off with the porches. And the gardens, too. Not many gardens anymore to sit around in. And look at the furniture. No rocking chairs anymore. They’re too comfortable. Get people up and running around….”

Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451

A Week in the Life of Rome

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Just received my IVP Advance short list of new books coming up and one instantly caught my eye: A Week in the Life of Rome by James Papandrea.

The ivpress website gives the following description:

An urbane Roman landowner and merchant is intrigued by the Christian faith—but is he willing to give up his status and lifestyle to join the church? Meanwhile his young client, a catechumen in the church at Rome, is beginning to see just how much his newfound faith will require of him.

A Week in the Life of Rome is a cross section of ancient Roman society, from the overcrowded apartment buildings of the poor to the halls of the emperors. Against this rich backdrop, illuminated with images and explanatory sidebars, we are invited into the daily struggles of the church at Rome just a few years before Paul wrote his famous epistle to them. A gripping tale of ambition, intrigue, and sacrifice, James Papandrea’s novel is a compelling work of historical fiction that shows us the first-century Roman church as we’ve never seen it before.

Available February 19, 2019.  Looking forward to it!

Serbian Flag at the White House

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On July 28, 1918 the government of Woodrow Wilson, the President of the United States of America, issued a proclamation marking that day “A Day of Prayer for Serbia”. It was determined that on that day the Serbian flag would wave at the White House and that church bells throughout America would ring in honor of Serbian victims of World War I. A large number of Serbs from America had left their families and homes in the New World, desiring to help their brothers in the battle for honor and freedom in the homeland and join the Serbian army. Many of them never returned. Recognizing their sacrifices and love for the Serbian people, but remembering the great friends of our people in America, the Serbian Orthodox Church is organizing a celebration of the 100th Anniversary of President Wilson’s proclamation, the breakthrough of the Salonika Front and the end of the World War I.

Under the spiritual patronage of the Bishop of Eastern American, His Grace Irinej, the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America is organizing a multi-day celebration of these significant events in Washington DC. The celebration will begin on Wednesday, July 25, 2018 with Grace Bishop Irinej offering the prayer at the opening of the US Congress session. That afternoon a reception will be held on the premises of Congress organized by the Serbian caucus in the US Congress, Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in Washington and the World War I Centennial commemoration Committee of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

On the following day, July 26, 2018 the National Press Club is planning an academic gathering on the role of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian people in the First World War. The State Department is expected to be represented at the highest level. Sponsoring this gathering will be the Serbian National Defense, whose founder and first president, Mihailo Pupin, played a major role in organizing help to our people during World War I. A reception is planned for all participants at the conclusion of this meeting.
During the academic gathering a visual exhibit entitled, “There, Far Away: 1918-2018”, will premiere, organized by Art Exchange from Washington and their partners.

On Friday, July 27, 2018 a formal reception will be given at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, organized by the Representation of the Republic of Srpska and in honor of Her Excellency Ms. Željka Cvijanović, the Prime Minister of Republika Srpska. A cultural program under the auspices of the Serbian People’s Alliance will follow. The participants are the String Quartet of the School for Musical Talents from Ćuprija and the Serbian Singing Society “Lira” from Washington.
On the very day of the 100th anniversary of the proclamation, on Saturday, July 28, 2018 the Holy Hierarchical Pan-Orthodox Divine Liturgy will be served at St. Nicholas Cathedral of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), in the presence of several hierarchs and clergy. In addition to the Serbian Orthodox Church, hierarchs and clergy from other Orthodox jurisdictions in America are expected to attend. Following the Divine Liturgy, the Kolo Sestara, the Circle of Serbian Sisters, from the St. Luke Serbian Orthodox parish in Washington will prepare refreshments for all in attendance.
A formal banquet is planned that evening, to be held at the National Press Center. Distinguished officials from the world of business and politics, together with Serbian patriots, will have the opportunity to properly mark the end of the Great War, offer their respects to the Serbian victims, and to remember with gratitude the friends of our people from America in that very difficult period for Serbia.

On the last day of the celebration, on Sunday, July 29, 2018 the Holy Hierarchical Divine Liturgy will be served at St. Luke Serbian Orthodox Church in Washington. A family picnic on the church grounds will follow the liturgy.
We invite all brothers and sisters, patriotic Serbs, to join us in commemorating this significant jubilee for our people. Let us come together in remembering our great ancestors and give them due credit according to the words of Bishop Irinej: “All roads lead to Washington to celebrate the day the Serbian flag flew at the White House!”

It’s Only a Game

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The World Cup is coming to a close and the drama builds with each game. Of course, I’m referring to yesterday’s Croatian victory and their advance to the Finals this coming Sunday. A huge achievement for the unexpectedly successful Croatian team. Indeed, all of their victories and advances during this intense 21st World Cup have been accompanied by mixed Serbian reactions – from those who are of the opinion that we should never, (ever!), root for any sort of team associated with that country; to those who take a more generous position.

As someone tweeted: “I cannot understand the ‘Serb’ who during the World Cup is rooting for the team who celebrates their victories in the locker room singing things such as: “Listen up Serbian volunteers, you band of Chetniks, our hand will reach you in Serbia …”.

Neighboring countries aren’t always friendly ones. That’s probably why I found tweets of Ireland rooting against England! Whatever the case, Croatia has a good team, their heart is in the game and as one Serbian commentator noted “that’s how you play for your country!” At the end of the day, however, it’s only a game and there will eventually be winners and losers, stronger and weaker teams.  Having said that, this doesn’t mean I’m sorry England lost.

But here’s the thing – I can’t help but think that while we’re rooting for the opposing team they would never root for us. What’s more, I get the feeling that that’s what has led to all of their victories: their sense of national pride. We, on the other hand, seem to continuously be put in situations in which we show our true colors – and they’re not always the ones on the Serbian flag.

Alas, it’s only a game. So let the games continue and may the better team win!

Which, hopefully will be France 🙂