On The Leavening Of Heathen Ways

It may seem somewhat odd, but until very recently I was unaware of the tendency for contemporary computer users to praise an entire month as being fit for Halloween memes. While it is not something I usually make a big deal of, I do not celebrate and am in fact quite hostile to the celebration of Halloween for a variety of reasons. Like May Day [1], Halloween represents an example of the tendency of heathen cultures to allow space for misrule that gradually expands because of the lack of self-government that is involved with heathen religious standards. What first fills a single evening in Halloween of threats of mayhem if bratty children are not bribed with candy then becomes spread to Devil’s Night in wicked cities like Detroit, and then to entire months of mayhem and the celebration of a whole month of Spooktober.

Why does this happen? Why is it that heathen ways cannot confine themselves to reasonable and controlled proportions? It is perhaps worth remarking that the Bible considers both good and bad ways to be alike to leavening. A little leavening leavens the whole lump, but it matters a great deal whether that leavening is the leavening of the Kingdom of God that starts like a small mustard seed and then expands to become a large and sheltering tree, or if that leavening is the pride and hypocrisy of the scribes and the Pharisees. The leaven of heathen religious practices that seek to blend the line between life and death, and seek to spread misrule and mayhem and generally anarchical principles is clearly a leavening of the second part, for the spread of anarchy and mayhem threatens the liberty that depends on self-government so as to avoid doing harm to the person or property of someone else.

It is perhaps not very surprising in light of the foregoing that I am not a particular fan of horror movies. Unlike a great many people, I take no delight in that which would terrify me, but view those who would spread horror and terror as that which was fit to be destroyed and eliminated from the face of the earth. Similarly, the counterfeit eternity of ghosts and the undead has no personal appeal to me. It is not surprising why people would enjoy trying to care out a space in between life and death, but that is not a project of a great deal of worth in dealing with the difficulties of life or the ultimate questions of what happens after we depart this mortal coil. To die is to sleep, and there is no immortality inherent within us, but we can only receive it as a gift.

It is not that it is wrong to seek and explore answers and possibilities to the sorts of questions that Halloween attempts, very badly, to deal with, but rather that it involves a lack of knowledge and also a lack of proper restraint. We live in times that do not encourage restraint in its proper expanse, in large part because restraint is excessive in certain aspects of life and therefore not sufficient in others as a means of attempting (unsuccessfully) to attain to a balance. We can recognize the attempt to balance lives that are far too restrained and only growing more so, but the way to do that is to counteract the sort of excessive regulation of lives that leads to that excessive restraint in most of life, rather than to encourage a lack of restraint that is as dangerous in the anarchical tendency as excessive restraint is in the tyrannical direction. One extreme, alas, does not balance another. The path to virtue requires a temperance that our age cannot even conceive of, much less achieve.

[1] See, for example:


About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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