The Ugly and Grotesque: Pagan, Occult Halloween
The lovely month of October is marred by Halloween, a sinister grotesque kind of evil; it is a day that worships paganism and the occult. Asked the meaning of Halloween festivities, most people shrug their mindless shoulders: ‘I don’t know, but it’s a lot of fun.’
In its present form, Halloween has pushed its way—no, it has steamrolled its way into October beauty. Halloween is a multi-million dollar business. Since the end of September, stores have been showcasing brassy orange and ominous black in the form of skeletons, pumpkins, ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and other creepy creatures.
At the same time, school authorities recognize the danger of vandalism and harmful pranks associated with Halloween. They warn against psychosis resulting from the bad dreams of sensitive children. In its present form, Halloween is rooted in the unholy and unhealthy regions of darkness. Some schools have banned Halloween antics, and in the process, all holidays are in danger of being abolished.
Beauty, Leisure, and the Sabbath
To experience beauty, one needs leisure time, time to relax, however brief or prolonged. Yet, often a relentless work ethic dismisses it as time wasted. Many guard leisure as a precious value, but in practice it is challenged everywhere. Still, it is a prerequisite for the survival of every culture. Leisure is a satisfying kind of activity and not just cessation from work, not idleness, not wasting time. It disengages us from the cares of life freeing us to enjoy natural and artistic beauty. Leisure evokes creativity but varies from one person to another and from one culture to another. Leisure for one may be work for another. Many work on the weekend so that others may relax on the weekend. Leisure is characterized by certain universal similarities, bringing with it freedom from external constraint, joy and meaning to life. Sunday worship, reading a book, taking a walk, gardening, attending or playing a ball game, enjoying sound TV programs, or taking the coffee break are qualitatively the same: they refresh and enrich a person for the return to routine of work. Leisure is self-authenticating with no need for apology, defense, or justification.
Ceaseless work and overwork destroy the spirit because, in practice, they tend to view men and women as machines. Acedia and ennui, a state of listlessness and boredom, dull the sense of wonder, a thought implicit in the psalm verse: “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). Without periodic rest to restore the soul, acedia and ennui, afflict one’s overall well-being that weaken the taste for God and spiritual activities. Loss of employment and financial crisis can provoke despair and can trigger acedia and ennui. While coping with such extreme hardship, attention to unplanned leisure can remind one that being is as important as doing. Activity follows being, which is then transformed into communication and relationship with others. So, to be is to be a living dynamism desirous of communicating. Our bodies register the need for leisure. We work to live and not the other way round. Leisure, not work, refreshes the human spirit. Leisure activates a ripple effect: The experience of beauty evokes wonder, wonder evokes reverence for nature, for the arts, and most of all, reverence for one another as God’s images.
Collectively, Americans rank among the most driven people in the world. Our style, competition. Puritanical tendencies are resolved only by justifying leisure as earned by work or as necessary to continue our work. Moreover, Sunday worship, the highest form of human activity, can become distasteful because it is perceived as unproductive, and therefore, meaningless. Unlike business and other practical transactions, liturgy is an end in itself.
Leisure remains not only the basis of culture but a preparation for divine worship. Western civilization is indebted to the Jews for keeping the Sabbath. In fact, they gave us the weekend beginning on Friday at sundown. As if to confirm the need for leisure, Jesus tells us: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).
Beauty in Today’s World
How can we think of beauty in a world of unspeakable suffering? How can we speak about it when truth, goodness, and love are called into question? Despite the grim news and horrific images that enter our homes daily, even relentlessly, we still yearn for beauty, truth, and goodness, all attributes of love. The human race may be flawed by limitation and sin, but at heart we do want these qualities supported in the family, in the Church, and in society at large.
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