Sunday, October 11, 2015

Potpourri: Halloween, Demons on a leash, evil in art, Jesus triumphant

Potpourri:
1. a mixture of dried petals and spices placed in a bowl or small sack to perfume clothing or a room.
2. a mixture of things, especially a musical or literary medley.


Remember the category "potpourri" on the long-running game show Jeopardy? I always liked that show, though I enjoyed host Art Fleming who MC'd the show from 1964 to 1975, more than Alex Trebek, who started in 1984 and is still hosting 31 years later!

Here is a mixture of items for you, potpourri-style!

Halloween is coming, a holiday that is impossible to ignore when you work in a public elementary school among the youngest of students, as I do. I have an abounding abhorrence to anything related to Halloween.

As a child with Aspergers my particular dislikes involved costumes, makeup, mascots, noise and chaos, so being among ALL of that was a trial for me. I also didn't like approaching homes and talking to people. So, ditto. But I loved candy, running around outside with friends, and being allowed out after dark was thrilling too.

As a Christian adult, promoting a night of evil and buying into satan's lies galls me too. Some churches forgo the evening entirely and do nothing regarding a "Fall Festival" or "Harvest Fest" while others change the name of their event from Halloween to 'Hallelujah Fest' and invite the community in for hot dogs and games as a Gospel outreach. I've wrestled with both sides of the argument: I hate satan...I love outreach. I eventually decided that I want nothing to do with the holiday, not even if it has been re-constituted into a more innocent guise like a 'Trunk-Or-Treat'. However since it is a question of Christian liberty, I tried to do all as unto the Lord and not cause anyone to stumble, so I remained silent about my decisions and simply helped where I could and then bowed out where my conscience came in. Make your decisions thoughtfully and prayerfully, and remember not to become prideful about whatever you decide.

Here are a few balanced essays discussing the question of Christians celebrating Halloween.

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

Where Did Halloween Come From? Can a Christian celebrate it?

Christians and Halloween


Speaking of evil spirits, here is a terrific essay on demonology from Answers in Genesis. In American culture we are so sanitized, so scientific, such a high-falutin' advanced First World country that even Christians find mention of demons or evil spirits distasteful. The subtle or not-so-subtle undercurrent to such discussions even in church is "haven't we gone beyond that?" Well, no. And certainly satan has not, either.

The opposite problem holds true as well. Churches, especially ones that are starting to absorb Charismatic doctrines, tend to attribute every negative thing to satan, as if he was hiding behind every tree and was the evil force behind everything from spilling your coffee to the paper cut on your finger. Here is a biblical view of satan in an excellent article by noted scholar C. Fred Dickason. Professor Dickason is known as a biblical expert on angelology and demonology. He presents the truth of satan's influence, extent, and limits, while focusing on the grace of God and the hope we have in Jesus. I recommend the article.


Demons on a leash
Demons are alive and active today, but we can rest in the reality of our Father's gracious and powerful control.

He examines the following topics in the article:

Biblical Perspective on Satan’s Role
Demons Through the Ages
Demonic Activity in the World
Demonic Opposition to Believers
The Time of Satan’s Fall (and refuting the popular 'Gap Theory')
God’s Provision in Our Battle
God’s Sovereign Control
Our Authority in the Battle


Some artists have done an interesting job depicting biblical evil. As a blogger, I am aware that the world is not just words, but desires or needs visual images to accompany and enhance the written works. Yet whenever I write about anything from the dark side of biblical concepts, it's always a struggle to find appropriate, biblical, measured, and interesting art to go along with the writing.

William Blake was not only a poet but a master artist. He was proficient in engraving, where he served an apprenticeship, and also watercolor and oils. Blake sought to emulate the example of artists such as Raphael, Michelangelo, and Dürer in producing timeless, "Gothic" art, infused with Christian spirituality and created with poetic genius. I do not believe William Blake adhered to orthodox Christianity, but his interest and focus over time allowed him to produce some interesting works.
Blake's patron Thomas Butts commissioned from Blake a series of illustrations to the Bible that included about fifty tempera paintings and more than eighty watercolors. These focus on Old Testament prefigurations of Christ, the life of Christ, and apocalyptic subjects from the Book of Revelation. (Source, Metropolitan Museum of Art). Blake also is famous for 21 copperplate etchings illustrating the Book of Job in the Old Testament. Here are but two examples from the prolific works of William Blake. His art is in many major museums from around the world, including this at the British Museum

Satan inflicting Job with boils


and this from the Tate Museum, Agony in the Garden (of Gethsemane)


It is a dicey proposition, for an artist to biblically depict evil without idealizing, sanitizing, or glamorizing it. As for a more modern artist, I refer you to Chris Koelle. Mr Koelle illustrated the Book of Revelation a few years ago and his depictions are compelling. The book blurb says,
192-page graphic novel (paperback) Featuring almost 600 illustrations Including all 404 verses of the final book of the Bible Translation by Mark Arey & Philemon Sevastiades Adaptation by Matt Dorff Illustrations by Chris Koelle
Here is his page where you can buy the book and see thumbnails



Of course you know if you read my blog often enough that I enjoy artist Chris Powers. His visual theology is biblically accurate and aesthetically beautiful. Where Blake or Koelle's depictions of evil both stir and frighten, Powers' work has a lighter feel. However he still does a magnificent job visually depicting sin, wrath, and death in a way that is thought provoking. Since Mr Powers' creates his works specifically to be shared, he includes explanations of the verses the powerful images depict and includes his thought process of what he wanted to convey. Like this from Isaiah 42:13-

Source
The LORD goes out like a mighty man, like a man of war he stirs up his zeal; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes.” – Isaiah 42:13
In this passage, the YHWH is talking about His zeal-fueled, end-time action against the enemies of His people and that will bring lasting joy and life to those who trust in Him, and as you read the whole of this chapter there will be many allusions that point us to the person and work of Jesus Christ.

As we read this verse in light of the cross, we know that YHWH did in fact “go out as a mighty man” when He came as a man and dwelt among us journeying unstoppably to the cross…It was there at the cross that He cried out and shouted aloud and showed Himself infinitely mighty against all His foes in a way they could never have anticipated. What glory and beauty that our God so zealously pours Himself out for the sake of His glory and the sake of our joy.

So, in this image, I wanted to represent the Cross-Event in light of YHWH’s infinite, warrior-like zeal that we read about here in Isaiah
If you write for an online journal or run a blog, I recommend Chris Powers' work as the visual enhancement to your writing, especially because of the artist's explanations of the verses that accompany the visual pieces and his willingness to share for the good of the Body and the glory of Christ.

http://www.fullofeyes.com



So there is your potpourri for the day. As Halloween approaches evil is increasingly on the mind of the pagans and even the Christians. Our eyes are assaulted by movie posters lauding the latest graphic depiction of the underworld. Our eyes avert from the neighbor's brutal yard art depicting scenes of evil, all in "celebration" of Halloween.

Our sensibilities will be assaulted by seeing yet another child absorbed into accepting the occult as normal, or another adult who succumbs to performing an evil crime on that most dastardly of days. Or simply enduring the abounding sin that Halloween seems to loose. Yet we take heart. Jesus has overcome the world.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33).

The reality is,evil exists in the actual person of satan and his fallen demon-angels. However, we trust in Christ who has overcome and in whom we rest assured of ultimate victory.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

He made a spectacle of them in His triumph of the cross!

He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Colossians 2:15)



5 comments :

  1. "Make your decisions thoughtfully and prayerfully, and remember not to become prideful about whatever you decide"

    Thanks for the great reminder. That is an area where I can struggle....when I believe I have come to the better decision in an area of freedom. Always good to be diligent in the self monitoring.
    Jennifer

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    1. Me too, Jennifer, me too. I write to myself, first. I have to examine myself daily, after I pick up my cross! :)

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  2. Allhalloween - All Saints Day - a yearly celebration - 31 October - the eve of the Western Christian celecration of Al Hallows Day - dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints ( hallows ), martyrs & all the faithful dearly departed believers - the traditional focus on Al Hallows Eve revolves around using "humor & ridicule to confront the power od death.

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    1. Christianity does not celebrate the dead. If we are in Christ, he has conquered death so there is no need for humor and ridicule. Thepower of Jesus' perfect life has already dealt with death.

      All Hallow's Eve is not an orthodox Christian holiday. It stems (they think, no one is sure) from an ancient Celtic celebration celebrating the change of seasons, known as Samhain. The false Catholic church melded All Hallow's Eve with their own false doctrines about purgatory.

      As the writer at CARM.org states,

      "A later custom developed where people would go door-to-door on Nov. 2 requesting small cakes in exchange for the promise of saying prayers for some of the dead relatives of each house. This arose out of the religious belief that the dead were in a state of limbo before they went to Heaven or Hell and that the prayers of the living could influence the outcome. This may have been the precursor to Trick-or-Treat. ... So, it appears that the origins of Halloween are a mixture of old Celtic pagan rituals superstition and early Catholic traditions." (source CARM.org https://carm.org/halloween)

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    2. A friend of mine who's in a reformed Presbyterian church prefers to mark October 31 as Reformation Day, the day in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the Wittenberg door.

      It's not a holiday or an attempt at a holiday takeover. Simply a day of remembrance to meditate on some of the things that make us so distinctive and different from the world, and the One who is the reason for our strangeness.

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