The War on Halloween

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It has long been the position of this blog that Halloween gets a bad rap, especially from the Christian Right. The holiday’s association with deviltry, witchcraft, and the occult is, of course, difficult to deny, but the holiday’s name is an abbreviation of “All Hallow’s Eve”; that is, the evening before All Saints’ Day on 1 November.

Granted, the Internet atheists will claim the roots of Halloween in Samhain, the Gaelic festival of the harvest. They are not wrong, per se—the influx of Irish immigrants into the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries brought a peculiarly Celtic flavor to the holiday. But the holiday is a Christian, specifically a Catholic, one—the Irishmen bringing tales of Jack O’Lantern and his carved turnip (it would only later become a pumpkin) were not ancient pagans, but among the most devout believers in Europe.

Certainly the medieval Catholic Church had a habit of taking pagan holidays and replacing them with Christian observances. For some reason, Internet atheists always use these replacements as examples of Christianity’s secretly pagan roots. The argument is ludicrous.

When Hernan Cortez destroyed the Aztec temple at Tenochtitlan and built a cathedral in its place, was he honoring the bloodthirsty Aztec gods? Or was he symbolically noting that The Holy Trinity had displaced the false gods and idols of the Aztecs? It is almost certainly the latter. Similarly, when Christians took existing pagan observances and replaced them with Christian ones, they were symbolically and practically demonstrating the victory of Christ and His Church over pagan gods.

Indeed, much of the American Protestant objection to Halloween must have been due to its associations with the Papists, rather than the Devil. The mischievousness of the holiday in the twentieth century, especially the concept of trick-or-treating, probably has more to do with its more sinister modern associations.

But the latest assault on Halloween is coming from a different quarter.  No longer are conservative Christians alone in hedging their bets on the holiday.

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In Memoriam: A Triple Obituary

In lieu of Supporting Friends Friday, I’ve decided to dedicate this Friday’s post to the memories of three great men that left us in the past week.  One was a beloved funnyman; the second an influential public intellectual; the third a former colleague’s husband.

That order is not indicative of a ranking by significance or importance, to be clear.  As I noted, I consider all three of these gentleman to be great men.  Each contributed something to the world in their own way.

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TBT: Music Among the Stars

It’s been a musical week here at The Portly Politico, so I figured, “why stop now?”

I’ve dedicated more and more space on the blog to musical and cultural matters, especially in the last year.  Among the posts I most enjoy writing—and of which I am most proud—are those I write about music.

This week’s TBT feature, “Music Among the Stars,” is one I really enjoy, and I think (humbly) it’s one of my better posts.  It’s about the golden records aboard the Voyager I space probe, and about the true purpose of music—to worship God.

I’ll let the essay speak for itself.  Here is 8 September 2021’s “Music Among the Stars“:

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TBT: Things That Go Bump in the Night

Despite my griping about South Carolina weather in yesterday’s post, the first day of September was surprisingly cool and overcast, giving the slightest taste of the crisp autumnality to come.  This time of year always gets me thinking about Halloween and spooky stuff, especially as everything feels more magical.

Our modern minds have diminished and dismissed the supernatural as mere superstition, often accompanied with attempts to explain away supernatural phenomena with explanations that themselves require faith to believe.  That “faith” is in scientism, a counterfeit “religion” built purely on a material understanding of the world.

We see but through a glass darkly.  There is more to our world than meets the eye—more to it than what we can observe.  God tells us much of what is there—at least, what we need to know—and Scripture seems to suggest we shouldn’t go looking for things beyond Him and His Son.

Seems prudent to me.  With that, here is 2 September 2021’s “Things That Go Bump in the Night“:

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Let’s Get Biblical: Elijah and the 7000

It’s easy to get discouraged in the face of all the insanity and absurdity of the wokesters, who aren’t just unwashed Antifa thugs picking fights in the streets.  Woke-ism, Cultural Marxism, CRT, progressivism, etc.—whatever name we give it, the ideology dominates our institutions, our ruling class, and our popular culture.

In the face of such totality, it’s little wonder that conservatives and traditionalists grow pessimistic about the future.  Despair is seductive, and misery loves company.

As Christians, however, despair is profoundly sinful.  When we give into despair—into hopelessness—we are denying God’s Sovereignty, His Power and His Plan to guide us through the present storm.

During my pastor’s sermon this past Sunday, he mentioned in passing the passages from 1 Kings 19 in which Elijah curls up under a broom tree and prays for death.  Despite defeating the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel in the previous chapter, Elijah despairs, for he knows that Jezebel has put a price on his head—and he feels utterly alone.

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TBT: Baby Sea Turtle

It’s the last quiet week of summer vacation before returning to school.  It’s been a good summer, with a trip to Universal Studios; a grueling but successful move; and getting a dog.  The one thing I didn’t do this summer is see a baby sea turtle take its first, adorable steps into the sea.

But I did get to see that last summer!

There’s something magical and miraculous about witnessing a baby sea turtle leave his little egg and waddle into the ocean.  I thought I’d never see it in my lifetime unless I was specifically trying to see it.

Adding to the magic was that it was totally unplanned—wonderful happenstance.

With that, enjoy this treacly little post, 3 August 2020’s “Baby Sea Turtle“:

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Lazy Sunday CXXIV: Bible Posts

There are many Biblical commentators out there, each adding their interpretations to Scripture.  I’m very much an amateur in this field, armed with my Pentecostal upbringing and lots of men’s Bible studies.

But that hasn’t stopped me from trying, and I’ve written a few posts attempting to interpret Scripture over the years.  So, with summer rapidly fading—and my prayers going up for a good school year—here are some of those feeble attempts:

  • Nehemiah and National Renewal” (and “TBT: Nehemiah and National Renewal“) – This post was my attempt to shoehorn the story of Nehemiah rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem to the need for America to construct a border wall.  There are some useful parallels though—the construction of Jerusalem’s wall ushered in a period of national renewal in the land, and Trump’s border wall could have prevented further invasion of ours.
  • Nehemiah Follow-Up” – This post went into deeper detail on the spiritual aspects of the story of Nehemiah, which I shamefully overlooked in my haste to equate Nehemiah with Trump.
  • The Desperate Search for Meaning IV: Vanity” (and “TBT: The Desperate Search for Meaning IV: Vanity“) – This post was part of my The Desperate Search for Meaning series, and focused on the idea from Ecclesiastes that, without God, life is meaningless.
  • Psalm 13 and Patience” – Patience is something with which I personally struggle, and it’s very easy to get impatient with God’s Timing.  This post deals with that idea, using one of my pastor’s sermons to explore the idea in more depth.
  • Let’s Get Biblical: The Wisdom of Exodus 22” – My most recent Bible-based post, this one looks at the rules for social responsibility laid out in Exodus 22, particularly the admonitions to take care of widows and orphans—and the harsh penalty enacted for those who abuse and mistreat the same.

That’s it for this holier-than-thou Lazy Sunday.  Sloth is a sin, but perhaps the Lord will forgive this Sunday’s laziness.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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Let’s Get Biblical: The Wisdom of Exodus 22

This past Sunday we had a guest speaker at church, a pastor with a children’s home ministry.  The ministry began with a home in southwestern Virginia, and has expanded to an orphanage in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, Mexico.  Both children’s homes are in poor, mountainous communities—the former the region where my late great-grandmother lived.  Both orphanages do amazing work with the kids, combining work (like gardening, feeding donkeys, and the like) with play—even a band!

In giving his talk about the ministry, the guest pastor referenced a few passages of Scripture.  Aside from the famous passage from Matthew 19:14 in which Jesus told the disciples to “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven,” the pastor also referenced Exodus 22:22-24, which deals with how widows and orphans are to be treated:

22You must not mistreat any widow or orphan. 23If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to Me in distress, I will surely hear their cry. 24My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword; then your wives will become widows and your children will be fatherless.

It’s a pretty powerful passage, and a reminder that God doesn’t mess around with sin, especially against the weakest and most defenseless.  We like to think that God has “mellowed out” since sending Jesus to die for our sins, but that’s dangerously wishful thinking.  God doesn’t change, and His Wrath is still mighty.

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MAGAWeek2021: Washington’s Miraculous Escape from New York City

This week is MAGAWeek2021, my celebration of the men, women, and ideas that MADE AMERICA GREAT!  Starting Monday, 5 July 2021 and running through today (Friday, 9 July 2021), this year’s MAGAWeek2021 posts will be SubscribeStar exclusives.  If you want to read the full posts, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for as little as $1 a month.  You’ll also get access to exclusive content every Saturday.

On Wednesday of this MAGAWeek2021 I wrote about the Battle of Sullivan’s Island, a key early victory for the Americans in our Revolution that protected coastal South Carolina from British occupation for four years, diverting the Redcoats to the North.  An unfortunate side effect of that victory was the increased concentration of British troops in and ships off the coast of New York.

Soon, General George Washington and the Continental Army found themselves besieged in Brooklyn Heights, New York.  The British General Howe had Washington’s forces surrounded and outgunned.  Facing total annihilation—or, even worse, surrender of the Continental Army just six weeks after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Washington made the decision to evacuate his men across the East River onto Manhattan Island on the night of 28 August 1776.

At daybreak, only about half of the Continental Army had made it across.  Defeat seemed imminent, even after the daring river crossings in the dead of night.

But then, something miraculous happened.

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