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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Guest Blogger, Melody Carlson: The Appeal of Halloween

As a kid, we dressed in simple costumes and visited neighbors for candy on Halloween.

As an adult, I learned more about the origins of the day and its traditions.  

As a parent, I rethought.  Do Christians "do" Halloween?  Do we avoid it, hide from it, use it as a tool to evangelize, celebrate it in force?  

My family has been wrestling with this for a few years now. So when I had the chance to have Melody Carlson, author of Moon White, guest post here today, I jumped at it.  Maybe something she says will help you decide how to handle this unusual "holiday."

By Melody Carlson

Have you even wondered why some teens are drawn toward things like Ouija boards or
psychics? Or why séances are still popular at sleepovers? Does it just have to do with
Halloween and that spine-chilling need for a good scare? Or could it be something more?
And, as a Christian, should you be concerned?

Those questions, as well as some confused reader letters, prompted me to tackle
the “supernatural” in one of my teen novels (Moon White, TrueColors, Nav Press). And
whenever I write an issues-based novel, I’m forced to research—and often in some dark
places. So I began scouring websites, learning more about Wicca and the occult, trying to
grasp what was really going on with today’s teens—and how I could write about it in a
helpful and relevant way.

But, as usual, when I write a teen book, I go back to my own adolescence...trying
to connect with my inner teen...and I suddenly remembered a short era when a friend
and I got very interested in witchcraft. I had honestly forgotten about this time and was
fascinated to recall how we scoured some witchcraft stores on a local campus—I think
we even purchased a few things. Fortunately, this interest was short-lived and I became a
Christian not long afterward.

However, as I reconnected with my inner teen, I had to ask myself—why had I
looked into witchcraft back then? Why do teens dabble with it now? Suddenly the answer
became crystal clear. I was searching. I’d been calling myself an atheist for several years
by then, but I was spiritually hungry—starving in fact. Consequently I was looking for
spiritual answers—something that would fill that empty void within me. I wanted a
supernatural force in my life and I didn’t even care where it came from. I needed
something bigger than me, more powerful than me, something to hold onto. I had no idea
at the time that I was really searching for God.

This realization changed the way I viewed my research. Instead of feeling
disgusted and dismayed by the witchcraft/Wicca sites (which are not particularly
enjoyable) I began to recognize that these people (mostly girls) were simply searching
too. They wanted a power source in their lives just like I wanted one in mine. They just
hadn’t found God yet.

This led to another discovery. A girl who’s attracted to a religion like Wicca is
usually seeking to gain some control over her life. Something is wrong and she wants to
change it. To do so, she’s often enticed to purchase something—like “magical herbs”—to
create a potion that will give her some control over her situation. Unfortunately, she
doesn’t even realize she’s being tricked.

But think about it, wouldn’t you love to have control over a bad situation
sometimes? Wouldn’t you love to be able to change the circumstances that make your
life unpleasant? So what if someone offered you the “power” to do just that? Perhaps if
you’re fifteen, you wouldn’t see that person as a charlatan and you would fall for it.
Which brings me to another important factor in understanding this generation’s
attraction to the supernatural. Follow the money. The more I researched, the more it
became painfully obvious that Wicca and witchcraft and the occult are money-making
enterprises. Thanks to the internet, these savvy distributors sell anything imaginable—
and many things you can’t. That leads to some serious motivation—these marketers want
to hook their unsuspecting young customers and reel them in. Of course, these potions
and trinkets and how-to books don’t come with a money back guaranty. Nor are they
approved by the FDA. Yet they are a multi-million dollar industry.

So, in a way, it’s a perfect storm. Teens that are insecure, lost, unhappy, and up with an unregulated industry that offers supernatural answers and
power and control...for a price. And, oh yeah, I never even mentioned how this opens a
door for Satan to slip in and wreak havoc. For’ll have to read the book.

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