The Annual Moral Dilemma Of Halloween

I hate Halloween. Hate it.

Can’t stand the movies, the costumes, the fascination with the ‘dark’, or the tooth decay that goes with it. And I’m also not a fan of those snobs that give out healthy alternatives like apples, or toothbrushes, or dental floss. What kind of sick mind does that? You decorate for Halloween, get your house ready for the trick-or-treaters and you give out dental floss??

I especially am not a fan of those who combine good dental hygiene with a spiritual tract. “Happy Halloween and here is something for your teeth and something for your soul.”

I think I am of the mind that you either need to be in or out on Halloween. Either step up your game and give out legit candy or keep your porch light off.

Speaking of porch lights – it doesn’t work in our neighborhood. The lights could be off, I could have a sign in my yard that says – “I Hate Halloween, Don’t Bother Me” and kids will still ring my doorbell. It doesn’t help that the guy down my street decorates just as much for Halloween as he does Christmas. His porch light stays off but the tombstones, fake cobwebs in the trees, pumpkins, and eerie music connected to a motion detector make up for it. Does he have a job? Is this what retired people who wear dress socks really do with their free time?

What Halloween really presents to me though is a significant moral dilemma. Is this a pagan holiday that as a Christ-follower I should avoid like the plague or a harmless day of dress-up? Should I ban the practice from my home or set up good Christian alternatives to it?

Most folks know the origin of Halloween. November 1st is All Saints (the Holy) Day, October 31st – All Hallows (the Holy) Eve. All Saints Day was a Christian holiday and the pagans took the day before it – Halloween – to celebrate all that was NOT holy.

It’s basically a reverse Christmas.

Back “in the day,” Christ-followers ambushed a pagan holiday that celebrated Mother Earth and multiple gods and framed it as a Christian holiday to celebrate the coming of Christ – the one, true God. Hate to burst your bubble but Jesus wasn’t really born on December 25th but we celebrate it then and the world seems to be okay with that.

Not that any of this really solves the dilemma for me. My own church has wrestled with this issue. Schools will allow us to promote a Halloween party but not a church fall festival. Doesn’t matter that the title doesn’t change a thing as to what we actually do at the event.

There are clear verses in Scripture that denounce witchcraft and sorcery. So on one level, I get why Halloween is seen as the most evil day of the year. But I also see nothing wrong with kids playing dress-up and wanting to fleece their neighbors for candy either. My own house is divided on this issue – so it’s not a clear-cut issue.

Here’s my suggestions if you decide to ‘do’ Halloween. Be a blessing to your neighborhood. Be the house that gives away full-size candy bars, free hot cider for the adults. Be a house that is warm and inviting, where you are sitting on the porch or in the driveway with lawn chairs and corn-hole. Make your house the place the whole neighborhood WANTS to go visit. Don’t give away tracts, Bibles, or dental floss.

Use the night to establish relationships and friendships with your neighbors. We have a cul-de-sac with two families with small children. We use events and nights like this to reconnect with them, to make sure they remember they can draw on our driveway with sidewalk chalk, and to remind them that mi trampoline es su trampoline.

But if you don’t do Halloween – that’s fine as well. Just keep the porch light off. Maybe that will work in your neighborhood.

My Bold Sports Weekend Predictions

Okay – they are not so bold but I’ve been a bit distracted lately with the Royals run. They remind me so much of the 2007 Colorado Rockies…except the Royals have a bullpen and Colorado didn’t.

The Giants have announced they are NOT starting Bumgarner tonight. I must admit this is a little surprising. He’s the best there is and the Royals are nowhere close to figuring him out. If he pitched tonight, there’d be a chance of him also pitching in Game 7 (if necessary). Of course, starters going on 3 days rest hasn’t always worked out well for pitchers. Bumgarner has never done it (pitched on 3 days rest), perhaps this is why he will sit tonight.

Yost still baffles me with some of his decisions – not pinch hitting for Guthrie or Herrera or pulling a double switch – but his managing mantra is simple: Get to the 7th inning. The three-headed monster of Herrera/Davis/Holland is untouchable and Yost knows it. His other calls may be off the wall but at the end of the day – the Royals are up 2-1 and the Giants know they have 6 innings to beat the Royals.

I’d love to see the Royals win this back home on Game 6.

Denver Broncos
They’ve looked like an unstoppable freight train the last two games. Can they play at this pace the rest of the year? I’m speaking mostly about the defense.

Watching Manning play makes it hard to believe there were questions about his health. He looks better than what he did before he got hurt. Loved that he got upset at the PA announcer at Mile High for getting crowd pumped up while he was on offense.

They will drop a game or two this season – the schedule is too hard. Next three games are away and all over the country – at New England, at Oakland, at St. Louis. Still have Miami, Buffalo, and Cincinnati to play as well.

One note on the Chargers – they have traditionally been a real pain in the hind-parts for Broncos. Gates and Rivers showed why Thursday night. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how those Rivers/LT/Gate teams never won a Super Bowl. Oh yeah – their GM fired Marty Schottenheimer and hired Norv Turner instead. Now I remember.

Alabama Crimson Tide
This team stresses me out. They look unbeatable against A&M, they look atrocious against Arkansas. At home – they are flat out dominating teams hanging half a hundred points on teams. On the road – they look fragile. Which makes the Tennessee game pretty interesting tonight.

Tennessee’s defense can play – don’t let the scores fool you. Their offense hangs them out to dry in every game. When (IF) that offense ever learns to hold on to the football and score touchdowns – Tennessee is going to start winning. I hope that doesn’t start tonight but it very well could.

I still think Alabama walks away with a W tonight.

From The Reviews: 30 for 30: Elway to Marino

This is an excerpt from my new site The Reviews. You can read the rest of the article and join the conversation over there.

WARNING: This review is completely unbiased, fair and balanced. WHO AM I KIDDING??? I am a HUGE Bronco fan and even bigger Elway fan. I’ve even MET The Duke, himself! (I WILL NEVER WASH THIS HAND AGAIN!!!) John Elway is the greatest QB to ever play the game and don’t even come in here with these modern guys that have had the benefit of all the rule changes that allows them to throw for 400 yards a game.

WARNING 2: The Reviewers would like to note that Grant probably should not have been the one to review this film. However, since he is hosting the site there is nothing that could be done about that. Forgive us.

The 30 for 30 series in general has been a sports-loving-documentary-loving person’s dream. All of them have been good, most of them VERY good, quite a few of them have been GREAT. Now that they are on Netflix – my queue looks like the ESPN vault.

This one in particular has deep meaning for me as I have been a Bronco fan since I was 7. That’s a long time. The early 80’s found my beloved Broncos trot out a good defense but a horrific offense. The defense was anchored by Tom Jackson, Randy Grandishar, and Steve Smith. The offense? An AARP member (Steve DeBerg) a few guys they picked up from construction sites.

Read the rest here

Our Actions Are Rooted In Our Identity

Who are YOU?

Who do you think you are?

These two questions aren’t exactly my favorite in the world because it more than likely means I’m in trouble. At least that was the case for me growing up. Often that trouble was deep trouble – as if there is a different kind of trouble.

Like when we were playing baseball and a window was broken. I’m not saying I did it. I’m not saying I didn’t. I am saying we all ran away when an adult came out and yelled – “Who are you kids?” (Apparently he did know who we were because all of our dads got phone calls that night.)

The other question happens a lot when our kids proceed to tell us what the family schedule is for the weekend. Or when somebody thinks we are watching something other than the Denver Broncos on the big TV.

I have scenes in my life that when I replay in my mind, they shock me. I see a person who looks like me and sounds like me do things that I can’t believe “he” did. It’s surreal. Decisions that for the life of me, I can’t believe I made. It’s like watching somebody else.

Our actions are rooted in our identity.
I believe this is true. I also believe we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’ We have two identities at war within ourselves. We are made in the image of God and have His fingerprints all over us. We are also made in the image of Adam and we’ve got his as well.

This explains why beautiful people think they are ugly. It’s why some wrestle with cutting or eating disorders. This is the reason why we can make wonderful and atrocious decisions.

This is why Jesus’ first task in a new home is a total makeover – a new identity. He makes a new creation because the root of our actions is in our identity. It’s why Jeremiah told Israel – one day God will write his law upon our hearts. In other words, he will change our identity so our actions will follow.

It’s a process to be sure. It doesn’t happen overnight as Paul reminds us in Romans 7. But God is confident that his work is not in vain, that he will complete it. And living towards that reality is fundamental in living in His grace.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

This is an excerpt from my new website – The Reviews. You can comment and read the rest of it over there.

I didn’t know what to expect with this movie. I’m not really a fan of Ben Stiller’s work. I love him in interviews, he has a great “off-stage” presence. Comes across as a guy I’d love to hang out with but his movies for the most part have not impressed me. The Night At the Museum franchise was solid. Meet The Parents was great and went downhill from there. Having him play the lead in an independent film that relies heavy on acting not schtick? Risky.

I wasn’t expecting it to end well.

…read the rest here.

My New Website: The Reviews

wbpage screenshot

My love of film and books has finally gotten the best of me. I’m launching a new site simply called “The Reviews.” I’ll link my review here on this site but it will only be an excerpt and the comments won’t be open.

Plus, I roped in two friends to add their reviews to the mix – Nathan Mees and J.B. Waggoner.

Many of you already know Nathan Mees. An incredible communicator and teacher at Washburn Rural High. He teaches AP Lit, World Lit, and Film as Lit classes. He’s also done a roundtable with me during the movie series at church. Nathan’s perspective on film is going to be awesome to read.

J.B. Waggoner I met this year – back in January. He was the editor on the Ragamuffin film and was here when we showed that film in Topeka. He’s a 16 year vet of film editing on short films and features. You can see his work on his site.

I’m really excited about not only having a site dedicated to film and book reviews but having these two guys do it with me.

Hidden Gem of Hutchinson, Kansas

Our two state convention had their annual meeting in Hutchinson, Kansas this year. Amy got to go with me and we found some incredible places to eat in Hutch.

El Potrillo
I have no idea what the word the means but the food was outstanding. Our service was fast and friendly. It was perfect for dinner. I had the fajitas and the chorizo was perfect.

Roy’s BBQ
This place makes my top 5 BBQ places of all-time. Starts with the ambience and location. It’s a house on the side of some railroad tracks on the outskirts of Hutch. When you walk in the house, you’ll more than likely be greeted by ‘Momma’ who has worked there for 37 years.

The ribs are incredible. Fall off the bone tender, smoked to perfection. The hot links aren’t too hot. They are perfect. These two are the highlights of Roy’s. The pulled pork was good, the turkey was juicy and flavorful. You will not go wrong with this place.

Get here early. It is only open until the food runs out.

Jillian’s Italian Grill
Great place for a romantic dinner. In Hutch! Awesome location – right downtown and perfect ambience inside. We had incredible service and the wood fire pizzas were PERFECT. Jillian’s features an impressive wine selection and homemade bread. If the weather is nice, there is also outdoor seating.

This was a fantastic experience. The website is clumsy and doesn’t remotely begin to communicate how awesome this museum is. We did both the train ride and the ‘dark tram ride.’ Both were worth the cost. Kids are going to love this experience.

The elevator ride down is dark and claustrophobic. Then you exit into another world – 1.5 miles wide, 2.5 miles long. HUGE! It’s beautiful. We got to see some of the underground vault items as well – including the Mr. Freeze costume that Arnold wore.

Take this trip if you get a chance.