Tuesday, October 30

Something to look for: A new PBS special on C.S. Lewis, premiering on a couple of stations this month and making its way to the rest of the country in subsequent months.
There's a good history of Halloween in this month's American Heritage magazine. I think one of the more puzzling minor cultural phenomena of recent years has been the growing attention paid to Halloween by adults. The article presents an interesting explanation: it's a holiday that is much more of a blank slate that any other. You can make of it what you want, if all you want is an excuse to party, you've got it, without any need to pretend you care about the "meaning" of the holiday.

There's another good piece on the holiday in last weekend's National Review Online, which points out, in regard to some evangelical's warnings about Halloween:

It requires us to presume that the Christian church in the United States stood idly by for a century while this abomination became a national habit, and it was only when these current evangelical leaders came on the scene that anybody finally knew enough to stop it.

And then, concerning the function of the holiday:

Far from being a trauma, Halloween gives children an opportunity to confront the most fearsome facts of life — danger, powerlessness, human malevolence, and, most notably, death and decay — and, through exaggeration, domestication, and outright mockery, to diminish and ultimately defeat them by making them less alien and momentous.

Finally did a little work on the main page. I put my recent review of Richard McBrien's Lives of the Saints up, and will probably throw one more article up there before the week's out.

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