Halloween is rather controversial holiday for many Christians. Christian living is often about making choices between good, better, and best practices in our families and communities. In the season of October, the spooky, the scary, and the downright horrifying are given a central place in public consciousness. How do Christians cope with all of this?
Many Christians choose to have alternative practices to Halloween, celebrated the Protestant Reformation, having harvest parties, or leaning in hard to a Revelation themed bash. Others simply accept the holiday and trick-or-treat with the crowds. There are those who actively protest, those who join in and those who hide.
All of these responses and examples can be seen the reimagined Jane Austen classic, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.
This version of Pride & Prejudice follows the familiar storyline. There are balls, and there are rogues. Wickham is still the bad guy (though with entirely different motivations than money). There are aristocratic snobs who lock themselves away, supposing themselves safe from danger. Foolish younger sisters still find ways to be idiotic. Weak men hide behind brash women.
Lizzy and Mr. Darcy misjudge each other, fall in love, save each other from zombies and carry on with their lives. Tale as old as time, etc.
So how is this story an example of Christian living?
I am so glad you asked! Within the story we see the characters continue to live their lives, to make plans for the future all while maintaining an awareness of near and present danger. Lives are at risk, but that does not excuse anyone who tries to hide away from it. And even those who try to hide discover that it does not free them from danger.
The call to Christian living the Bible uses very active language. Put aside things are harmful and damaging, add things that are helpful.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.Titus 2:11-14
The zombies have been carried away by the disease. They no longer live as a gracious human beings, capable of goodness. And to avoid becoming a zombie, one must maintain diligence and self-control. Zombies are a threat because they are not human, not capable of being human, and actively wish to destroy humans. It is not a minor inconvenience, but a threat to destroy life itself. And it can be hidden.
Not all threats are apparent, and not everything that at first seems threatening is an actual problem. Christian living requires discerning between discomfort and actual evil. That requires us to live our lives, not hide away from the world.
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”Jeremiah 29:4-7
There are many Christians who talk about being in the world but not of the world. However they often fail to acknowledge that living here means taking responsibility for our presence here. The choices that we make have an impact on our communities and neighborhoods. Whether you choose to place a 10 commandments sign in your yard or have a inflatable ghost hovering around you are sending a message. Choosing to pass out gospel tracts instead of candy may make you less neighborly.
We live in a world where there is chaos, cruelty, and oppression. How we choose to engage with it will reveal what we believe to be true about God.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.1 John 2:4
Live in the World
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies ends with a wedding, because even though lives are at risk they are also worth living well. Building homes and families, going out to work, combating the evil as it rises in a real threat. Understanding that Christians are called to live in a world where hard and horrible things happen we seek to care for our neighbors. We distinguish between actual threats (women who may die if they don’t wear their hajib) and just people who are different from us. Different is not a threat, putting up Halloween décor is not a threat.
Christian living is about overcoming fear. There is a lot to cause fear, inflation, disease, war, supply chain. Sticking our head in the sand and pretending that all is well is not Christian living. In order to combat fear, we must practice loving our neighbors. And that means we go out into the world, with or without a costume, and get to know our neighbors. Maybe then we will find out that the real zombies are not lit up plastic, but those who hide in their own selfishness and fear.
Resources for Christian Living During Halloween
Listen: The Bible Binge episodes Who is My Neighbor? and Jesusween
Read: This article from Haley Stewart gives reasons why Christians should read Harry Potter.
Watch: Obviously Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, and from there explore The Book of Life, an animated story about The Day of the Dead, which the Disney move Coco, is also about.
If you want to practice looking for good things in movies, start with my guide to finding the fruit in Pixar movies!