I don’t have any special religious distaste for Halloween. I’ve pontificated at length — though not previously on the record — that churches who have “Fall Harvest” events on October 31 in which kids dress in costumes and collect candy ought to be forced at gunpoint to call their Halloween parties “Halloween Parties.” I haven’t decided whether holding the “Harvest Celebration” on the Wednesday night closest to Halloween is better or worse than holding it on Halloween itself. I suppose it might be better, in that you can get candy from them on Wednesday and then go our trick-or-treating tonight and get still more, but then you would have to put with the sorts of people that would have a Halloween party on the wrong day and call it something completely different.
I wonder, if I referred to it as a Halloween party in front of them, would they stick their fingers in their ears and say, “Na na na, I’m not listening?”
Anyway, I don’t have a problem with Halloween. But the fact that I’m dressed in a costume at work today has nothing to do with that. Rather, I’m dressed as a monk to celebrate Reformation Day.
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his list of 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, and more or less unintentionally set into motion the series of events that we now call the Protestant Reformation. Roughly half of the Christians in the world today — one billion of them — worship today in churches that exist because of Luther’s actions, more than half of them directly and knowingly continuing in the traditions established by Luther.
And today, exactly 486 years later, I’m wearing a monk costume. I really wanted to shave my head in an odd pattern to match the hairstyle worn by Joseph Fiennes in the current movie Luther (which I reviewed here), but my wife protested most effectively on the grounds that nobody I’m likely to encounter today has even seen the movie. Had I thought ahead carefully, I might have supplemented my rather generic-looking costume with a mug of beer and a mallet, or even a copy of the 95 These in English, the original Latin, or the quickly-translated German.
But I didn’t, and one coworker has already suggested that I look like a satan-worshiper. I think it’s the bushy goatee. But I’m not celebrating Samhain, and I’m not even celebrating Halloween. I’m Martin Luther, father of the Reformation, and I’m celebrating Reformation Day.
Happy Reformation Day!
(And if all of that sounds as ridiculous to you as it does to me, I think I’ve demonstrated my point about churches having October carnivals.)