I visited a friend the other day. His family always decorates the outside of their house for the holidays, and Halloween is no exception. His two small children, seeing me walking toward their door, rushed to show me each of the decorations adorning their porch.
On the steps were two large jack-o-lanterns. The one on the right had a face with tall eyes and whiskers, like a cat. The one on the left was a normal jack-o-lantern, except that its mouth was the word “BOO”. “I made it all by myself,” the son exclaimed.
“Really?” The detail and precision were a bit beyond what I normally expected from a first grader.
“Well, I got to use the knife,” he backpedaled, before rushing to show me a large witch decoration on the side of the porch.
Finally he pointed out two smaller jack-o-lanterns sitting inside the porch’s railing. “It’s a clown,” the son exclaimed. I looked closely and determined that he meant it had a circular nose, instead of a triangle like all the others.
“What is that on the side of your clown’s head?” I asked.
“Those are his ears. They’re crosses.” And they were. Big chunky crosses adorned each side of the clown’s head.
“Why did you use crosses for the ears?”
“We made those at church. They said we had to put crosses on them.” He sounded a bit apologetic and shortly later the tour ended, but it got me thinking about how modern American Christianity uses the cross.
I’m sure that the well-meaning teacher who said that every jack-o-lantern must incorporate a cross felt that he or she was striking a Christian blow against Satan and his evil trick-or-treating. Yet, in the end, all you have is a mildly frustrated first grader who thinks that the cross is some sort of brand symbol, much like the Nike swoosh.
Did we win?