From my very first post on this blog, I have tried to avoid talking about my personal life. That's what facebook is for. And twitter. And myspace, if that still exists.
But when my personal life yields a good theological illustration, I'm not averse to bringing it up. So up I bring it.
I have three sons. Currently my wife is out of town with the youngest son. So I have the two older ones. The two older ones love two things in life more than any other two things. Those two things are:
1. Making lots of noise when I'm on the phone.
2. Halloween candy.
A few minutes ago, my oldest asked for Halloween candy-or, as he calls it, "Trick or Treat candy." And because I'm really awesome at giving my kids candy, I took out the giant bucket of sugary loot and began rifling through it to find something that I had no interest in poaching after both boys have gone to bed but that they would gladly devour. Whilst rifling, I discovered a small container of Play-Doh. And this irritated me. Here's why:
As a holiday, Halloween has a ritual aspect. It has, for all intensive purposes, a liturgy. On a set day (October 31), you put on a set garb (a costume of some kind; many options are available; you are free in the Gospel). Then you embark on a set activity (knocking on doors). When those doors are opened, you speak a set liturgical phrase ("trick or treat"). Then, those owning the doors offer the set liturgical response of giving you candy.
That's the Halloween liturgy.
And Play-Doh is not part of it. Now, you may think it's a neat idea to change that set liturgical response to giving kids Play-Doh. And you may have lots of reasons for thinking this. You may think that giving kids Play-Doh will make you stand apart from the rest of the crowd and make them remember your house above the rest. You may think your smooshy-toy-for-candy-substitute is a healthier option and will serve them better than the teeth rotting stuff of Halloween's past. But no matter what your reasons, when you autocratically depart from the established Halloween tradition without a single word of discussion with your fellow candy handerouters, it's really annoying.
And if that's a really annoying thing to do on All Hallow's Eve, it's even more annoying on Sunday morning.
My name is Pastor Hans Fiene. Thanks for reading.