Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Oh My God It's Real! "Jesus Ween Christian Festival"

Apparently some Christians have moved on from the "they're stealing Christmas" whine and are busy with attempts to rid the nation of Halloween. (As long as Christians continue to freak over Christmas being "stolen" while at the same time doing their best to obilerate Halloween, I'm going all out every Halloween; wherever I can, however I can. Stuffy hypocrites.) So, now there's "Jesus Ween" and it doesn't appear to be a joke. Jesus Ween Christian Festival:

JesusWeen is a God-given vision which was born as an answer to the cry of many every October 31st. The dictionary meaning of Ween is to expect, believe or think. We therefore see October 31st as a day to expect a gift of salvation and re-think receiving Jesus.
Every year, the world and its system have a day set aside (October 31st) to celebrate ungodly images and evil characters while Christians all over the world participate, hide or just stay quiet on Halloween day. Being a day that is widely acceptable to solicit and knock on doors, God inspired us to encourage Christians to use this day as an opportunity to spread the gospel. The days of hiding are over and we choose to take a stand for Jesus. “Evil prevails when good people do nothing”. JesusWeen is expected to become the most effective Christian outreach day ever and that is why we also call it” World Evangelism Day”.
I discovered "Jesus Ween" via a link in an article by Mary Valle: All Candy, No Jesus: Halloween in America. Valle is a bit sympathetic to the idea of Jesus Ween and other like minded Halloween Harvest Fest type observances, like "Trunk or treats" etc. Valle correctly points out that many Christians do participate in Halloween, as long as the Halloween part is removed. As in witches, devils, "evil spirits," etc. Because, cough, they're not "fictional characters." Valle interviews both Christians and pagans/Wiccans for their thoughts on Jesus Ween.

Valle points out that as a culture, we in the States have a huge issue with death: we don't deal:
We Americans don’t like to talk about death or the dead, though, really. Our bodies are disappearing in clouds of ash and our oldish cemeteries crumble, untended. One of my aunts recently offered to send me some old letters and a picture of her parents if I wanted them, and I was thrilled. I told her I don’t actually have a picture of my grandparents. A Catholic brother, Jeffrey Gros, told me that since most English-speaking American Catholics no longer practice the old-world customs, and “since many Protestants have difficulty with Catholic practices around prayer to the saints and prayers for the dead, our practices around All Saints’ and All Souls’ days have drifted in very different directions, leaving more space for the secular, non-religious practices around these festivals: Halloween.”
Years ago I worked at an art gallery that put on a Day of the Dead exhibit every year. School groups were invited to come and tour the many altars and related artwork, and get a bit of history on the ideas behind the Day of the Dead. We had altars created by children whose parents, grandparents and other family parents had died among the altars displayed. Of all the hundreds of children, from 1st grade on, that came, I never had a child become upset or otherwise "freaked" at the images of altars, the stories of loved ones passed on, skeletons, etc. I did have many children talk, sometimes shyly, sometimes almost happily, about the family members or friends in their lives that had died. Children loved the idea of creating altars to remember their grandparent, or other relative. Yet, as I led groups around the center, talking about the Day of the Dead, I saw many grimaces among the adults. At the end of one tour, I had a teacher come up to me, who was returning later that afternoon with another class. She asked me to "not talk about death so much" during the next tour.

As one Latina artist said to me once, about "gringos" integrating Dia de los Muertos into their lives: "Oh, we don't mind, it's great! But one thing we really wish you gringos would do: lighten up!"

(hat tip to one of my favorite blogs, Mystic Politics, for the link.)

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