It's been said that growing older can be seen as one long process of loss... our hair, our teeth, our hearing, our memory... the list goes on and on. But one significant 'loss' from my past is watching Tom and Jerry on our TV screens! They disappeared some time ago now of course, no doubt casualties of political correctness. Or perhaps it was in response to a protest by the Cat Protection people. Though maybe their antics were considered too violent for the sensitivities of today's youth? (Aye, that'll be right!) But whatever the reason, it seems a pity to me. Of course, changing times bring changing attitudes.
On my 60th birthday I received a card from someone which read...
'So you still think you're middle-aged? Just how many 120 year old's
do you know?
So yes, I am getting on a bit, but it seems to me that some things that were once considered harmless fun have developed a much more sinister side in the world of today.
Take Hallowe'en for example. I well remember back in the 50's my wee sister and I, dookin' for apples in our mother's old tin bath as well as a whole number of other fun-filled activities. And then suitably dressed up and clutching our hollowed-out turnip lanterns, we'd subject our poor, long-suffering neighbourhood in Kirkcaldy to a repertoire of songs and rhymes in return for one of these wee oranges or a few sweets. But much of the guising of yesterday seems to have given way to the 'Trick or Treating' of today. And perhaps in this way we're seeing Hallowe'en in its true colours.
Trick and Treating is said to have originated in the USA around 100 years ago when poor workers went round the doors at Hallowe'en demanding money… or else! The kids that come to my door these days don't exactly demand money, but they certainly expect it! And it's not as if the quality of the 'entertainment' has improved much over the years!
In 1998 I produced a children's activity sheet designed to entertain youngsters, whilst at the same time alerting them to something of the darker side of this pagan event. The Evening News got hold of this and following an interview with me ran an article. They passed this on The Scotsman and from there I received requests from a whole variety of national newspapers... The Guardian, The Independent, the Daily Record, The Sun, The Express etc etc. I even took part in a live debate on Radio Scotland by telephone from my office in Edinburgh. They all wanted to question my reference to what I considered to be the inherent spiritual dangers of Hallowe'en. And unsurprisingly most of the media coverage ranged from sarcasm to scorn, some of which was actually quite hurtful.
But seriously, if you're still under the rather naive impression that Hallowe'en is all just a bit of harmless fun, do please think again. Better still, why not check it out on the Internet. Type in 'Hallowe'en' to a search engine and you'll be left in no doubt as to its true nature. But be warned, you'll not find much sweetness and light there... rather the opposite.
It was over 2000 years ago now that the Lord Jesus Christ sent His first disciples into the world saying...
'I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as
snakes and as innocent as doves.'
And surely His words are as relevant today as they ever were. So as they used to say in another of my favourite old TV shows, 'Hill Street Blues', 'Let's be careful out there!'