~ ITEM: What Monsters Portend– In The Walking Dead, evil that emerges among the living is foreshadowed by the zombies
~ WHAT A CHILLY walk Binks just had with Wee Wallace, Mini-Poodle of Doom. The leaves chased each other down the street on a almost-wintry November wind. The days grow shorter, the darkness encroaches, and all manner of spooky expert has creapt out of the woodwork to tell us what the season ‘really’ means.
We So Smarts!
As children of the 19th century, we are taught to believe that what came first is more real, original, the true thing. Hence, the Celtic fire-feast of the dead, Samhain (saw-wen) is the authentic meaning of Hallowe’en. Soon, similar experts will peep and mutter about the Roman Saturnalia, and how Christmas is a poor copy-job.
You know, because who cares about the spreading glory of an oak tree, her acorns fit for feeding wildlife, her spreading leaves and foilage giving shade and shelter, her mighty wood giving all manner of strength to things constructed of it– who cares?– after all, Acorns are the big deal, because they come first! (actually not, because they come from oak trees, but you see the problem of thought we have).
Binky Gets Thinky
One Easter, tired of the usual Jesus & Christianity bashing & explaining away in the media & TIME magazine and other reliably skewed sources of ppseudoknowledge, it occurred to me that all this ‘original things are the real ones’ is a profoundly upside down way of thinking. Aft all, we value ingredients because they can be made into stew, or bread, or cake, or pie, or whatever else, something actually better and more nourishing than if we just tried to eat the ingredients themselves. Thus, I preached, is Easter really only all about Springtime and fertility, papered over with some churchy whatnot? Nonsense: the Resurrection of Jesus is the biggest event ever– thus, Springtime is all about Easter. The old gods point to the one true God– even Socrates knew that.
Hence, Hallowe’en is not actually Samhain; Samhain is all about Hallowe’en– All The Holy Ones Evening.
Big Scary Questions
For what is the state of the dead? Who knows it? Who has power over such an important aspect of human experience? Where are our lost ones?
Feasting and fires and supposing they walk abroad one night of the year.. OK: but when the missionaries of Him who is Lord of the dead & the living came to Celtic lands, they said “We proclaim him who lived, and died, and is risen forever. He has conquered sin, and death, and hell, and rules over all things with love. Thus, on the longings and unanswered questions and custom of Samhain, the church created two mighty feast days not to replace, as such, but to complete the pagan questions which awaited the coming of Jesus. Jesus fulfills the hopes and fears and longings of all the years.
So All Hallow’s Eve is the first part of All Hallow’s Day, when the great friends of God are remembered, their prayers asked for, their example recalled and followed, their presence with us in the love of Christ the Resurrected celebrated. Death itself is transformed: these are not like the heroes of the pagans, dwelling in a mythical land over the sea, because God’s love is eternal, that love and life is still in his friends: the saints are not dead, but with God.
Then, the more personal feast, All Souls, when we remember the friends and family and neighbours gone from us over the past year, and in our lifetimes. This is the sadder day, of sorrow and thankfulness and remembering that we, too, have that river of death to cross in our time.
Lost In The Dark
Since the 19th century, so-caleld Neo-pagans claim the old days, as if you could actually go back in time and be their own ancestors. As my friend Frederica Mathewes-Green said to me once, such folks strike her as being like kids in superhero pajamas. Or, I might say, worse, as being rejectors of Christ, and thus foolish slaves playing with powers they do not understand, and cannot control. For if nature abhors a vacuum, so supernature abhors a vacuum. If we will not share in Christ’s victory over darkness, then the darkness is happy to oblige. Sadly, we see this in modern horror movies, TV-shows, and a pop-culture obsessed with death, the demonic, and images of ugliness and degrading violence.
Whether or not our frightened, sterile, unimaginative, death-haunted, sex-glutted Western societies can return to such healthy fountains of life and thought is in God’s wisdom and work– ours is to remember, pass it on, and understand things right-side up, for we are not the wisest things ever, but more like children playing with guns, wandering in the dark woods, lost children who are neither happy, nor good. ~