TODAY: Lessons from the weather and the “adultification” of Halloween. Two huge issues frame our thoughts this Monday — Hurricane Sandy and the celebration of Halloween. Both issues will reverberate throughout the week. I discuss both on today’s edition of The Briefing: A Daily Analysis of News and Events from a Christian Worldview.
First, as Hurricane Sandy approaches the Northeast coast of the United States, forecasters indicate the likelihood of severe damage and the danger of large-scale human casualties. The scale of preparations is evident in the fact that U.S. airlines have already canceled over 5,000 flights in light of the storm. There will be no commercial air traffic throughout much of the region at least through Tuesday. In New York City, mass transit systems are shutting down, even as Amtrak is canceling trains along the Atlantic corridor.
Over 50 million Americans live in the region most likely to be tormented by the storm, which is now 800 miles in diameter and has sustained winds of at least 75 miles per hour. Forecasters predict that the slow moving storm will collide with another system approaching from the West, prompting memories of the infamous “perfect storm” of 1991.
From a Christian worldview perspective, the finitude of human beings is never more apparent. Even with advanced technologies of prediction and forecasting, humans can do nothing to prevent the storm from hitting land. We cannot even mitigate its winds and rain.
But, what we can do is learn from the past and take advantage of the warnings these technologies allow. So, why are so many defying the warnings? Once again, human nature is at work. We often feel a false sense of security as we are surrounded by the familiar, but this can be fatal. Political leaders have learned from past mistakes and have been working hard to convince citizens to heed the warnings.
The rest of us can only pray that the storm will not bring the destruction and deadly consequences many now predict.
Second, I take another look at Halloween, turning first to reports that the holiday has been “adultified.” Though most of us remember trick-or-treating as kids in suburbia, today’s celebration of Halloween is decidedly adult. Halloween now ranks second in terms of holiday consumer spending — behind only Christmas.
As Bruce Horivitz of USA Today reports, Americans will spend $8 billion this Halloween, and most of that spending will be for adult entertainment and celebration. As Horovitz reports:
“A decade ago, fewer than three in 10 costumes purchased for Halloween at Halloweenexpress.com were for adults. Now, it’s more than six in 10. It should be no surprise that consumers will spend an average of $123 this Halloween, more than twice the average $53 that they spent on it a year ago, reports American Express Saving & Spending Tracker.”
Why? He suggests that Halloween has been transformed into an adult holiday because it lacks the obligations of other major celebrations:
“In the midst of this adult takeover, Halloween has emerged as the No. 2 holiday in consumer spending for decorations, after Christmas. Maybe it’s because Halloween is about friends, not family. Or perhaps it’s because there are really no gifts to purchase, no religious rituals to observe and rarely any red-eye plane rides involved.”
But the celebration has changed in character, too. With adult participation has come “adult” themes. The holiday is highly sexualized, with the most popular costumes for women related to sexual themes.
And it’s not just women. One mother has referred to Halloween as “sexualize our daughters season.” Deborah J. Tolman, writing at the Huffington Post, puts the matter frankly:
“In a perverse appropriation of “girl power,” mini versions of sexy women will be winding their way through the streets of America this Halloween. They’ll have bought their French maid outfits, pink pussycat heels, and midriff-baring Bad Girl University sweaters online or at a big box store near you.”
“That Halloween has gone from scary to sexy in recent years is a reflection of a profound and problematic societal issue: the sexualization of girls. Such portrayals of young girls are so familiar to us and to girls themselves that it seems normal, harmless, and simply the way that girls are nowadays. In fact, it passes as liberation — just look at all the power girls have now: the power to shop, to look cute, to be “sassy.”
But, even after warning parents of these development, she dangerously lets them off the hook. Consider these words:
“But for various reasons, we as parents have not said “no” to the retailers, because too often in this ever more consumer-driven society, we do not say “no” to our children. We’re afraid of what can happen when our children don’t conform or we resist too much, like the six year-old kicked off her cheerleading team in Michigan because her parents protested a sexualized cheer.”
Well, parents who care about “what can happen” when parenting meets peer pressure are putting their children in grave danger.
Finally, deal with some of the historical and theological issues related to Halloween and the embrace of the “dark side.”
On that issue, you can read my full column, “Christianity and the Dark Side–What About Halloween?,” reposted here.
All these are discussed in today’s edition of The Briefing. Listen here: http://www.albertmohler.com/2012/10/29/the-briefing-10-29-12/ Links to all articles cited are also provided.