Who You Gonna Call?

Who do you call when life hands you a plateful of problems bigger than your ability to solve? The whimsical 1984 movie “Ghostbusters” asks the question in a jazzy way, but only in regard to one particular slice of life.  Life is much bigger than the one issue “Ghostbusters” focus’ on, but the ‘real’ answer encompasses all facets of life.

The “Ghostbusters” movie centers on three odd-ball scientists who get fired from their university jobs in New York City where they studied the occult. They turn their sideline into a full time occupation trapping pesky ghosts, spirits, haunts, and poltergeists for money. Eventually they stumble upon a gateway to another dimension, one which will release untold evil upon the city. The self-identifying Ghostbusters are called on to save the Big Apple.

You may never have problems with pesky spirits, but “in this world you will have trouble”.  Who you gonna call when you do?

The movie brings to mind the Halloween debate and the reality or not of ghosts.  Many Christians, Native Americans, and expatriates of countries such as Jamaica, Brazil, China, Kenya and South Africa would stipulate intellectually and experientially their existence.

Consequently, it would be a mistake this Halloween to lump everything spiritual as fiction.  Do not confuse fact with fiction; reality with animation or imagination.  It would be a mistake to think everything about Halloween is fiction. Count Dracula, a fictional character, was inspired by one of the best-known figures of Romanian history, Vlad Dracula, nicknamed Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), who was the ruler of Walachia at various times from 1456-1462. His name was derived from his affinity for impaling his victims. Although no vampire, one historic account details how he drank a victim’s blood.

Halloween has its roots in Samhain, an ancient Celtic festival which sought to repel the foreboding caused by lengthening nights, falling temperatures, and withering plants, plus serious belief in supernatural evil, with bonfires, human and/or vegetable sacrifices, and scary costumes.

Taking the “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” position that had worked reasonably well with formerly pagan Christmas, eighth-century Pope Gregory III decided to baptize Samhain, retaining some customs but radically redefining their focus. Gregory moved All Saints’, or Hallows’, Day from May 13 to November 1 (which made October 31 All Hallows’ Eve, i.e. Hallowe’en) and instructed revelers to dress as saints instead of evil spirits. Goodies that once had been offered to propitiate wandering devils were instead offered to poor people, who in turn vowed to pray for the souls of departed relatives.

I was upset as a student at a Christian college when the administration changed our “Halloween” party to “All Saints Eve”.  I didn’t see the implications of the spiritual struggle.  I hope you see what I didn’t then and won’t be upset at my suggestions that we focus our celebration on God and His saints through costume parties (devoid of witches, vampires, and ghosts), harvest dinners, fall parties, and progressive candy parties.

No matter the time of year or root cause of your pain, God will answer your call. “I wake again, for the LORD sustains me”. Trusting God is believing that your life is under God’s loving and protective care.  There is never a right time to take a holiday from that.

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