Are you looking forward to Halloween?

A lot of Christians are not too keen on Halloween.

Why not have fun at Halloween, or any other time? Are we Christians just being killjoys? Or overreacting to something harmless? At this time of year we need an excuse to party, surely. For some, dressing up is part of the fun. Do we just need to lighten up? Oh, no! Forget that. It’s a celebration of darkness, really.

How dark is Halloween?

The origins of Halloween lie in pre-Christian religions and therefore it is a remnant of Paganism. Do you want to invoke the old gods or any supernatural forces? For some that is to take it all far too seriously. For them, it is just dressing up and having fun. Do we have to be so serious about everything? It’s like saying everyone who eats an Easter egg is pledging himself or herself to Christ.

The answer is that God will not impose himself on anyone who does not want him. You have to make a positive decision. The Devil is not so fastidious. Give him an inch and he’ll take a mile.

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At Halloween, the Red Dragon, now a symbol of Wales, was once a symbol of spiritual power – but whose?
Is Halloween part of the Occult?

I have written about the Occult previously and will not repeat it all here. I will however warn you. Are you one of the many people who think Halloween is a good time to experiment with ouija boards? Or other ways of contacting the dead? (Or whatever they might contact). I have known people whose lives have been badly damaged as a result of finding the supernatural a lot more real than they ever imagined. They don’t all admit it. It’s a bit like experimenting with drugs. You might think you are in control, until you find that you are not. 

Don’t be intolerant at Halloween.

If Christians can overreact to Halloween, they are not the only ones. Some people get very hostile towards anyone who won’t join in. “Trick or treat” ceases to be fun when it turns into a protection racket. I have known people suffer damage and intimidation because they would not give anything. People who behave intolerantly are taking a step towards evil, whether the Devil exists or not. I have heard of people dressed as clowns deliberately frightening people, especially children. If that’s their idea of Halloween, or of fun, they can keep it.

Whichever side you are on, don’t spoil the fun but don’t score an own goal!

As my next book will contain an element of the supernatural, you may like to read my thoughts on the supernatural in crime fiction in my last blog.

 

 

 

Am I happy in spite of or because of my faith?

Shouldn’t Christians always be happy?

I have written a lot about how to be happy. Here is a link to a  summary article. It shows that most of the factors identified by scientists researching the subject coincide with the advice in the Bible. They also found that religious people do tend to be happier than the average. Here is a link to my first blog in the series. On the other hand, you can probably think of some Christians who do not always seem to be happy, but does that disprove everything I have written on the subject?

Is anyone always happy?

Christians are human beings. (Yes, really!) We experience ups and downs in life, like everyone else. In our health, or wealth, our relationships. It would be absurd to suggest we should never react to circumstances in a way similar to other people. We should, and usually do, lift ourselves up, or get lifted up, somewhat more quickly than most people.

I’m happy inside!

Some of us don’t always show our feelings a lot. I often look serious when I am thinking and that’s quite often. It depends what I’m thinking about, but I do think about serious subjects quite a bit. I’m not miserable, but I don’t go around grinning all the time. Being happy is not the same as being phoney.

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Happy and sad masks. Where is the reality?

Is it always right to be happy?

St Paul tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. It would be insensitive, and unloving, to go around seemingly oblivious to other people’s misfortunes. We should try to help them overcome their problems and/or to look on the bright side, but not in a superficial way. Jesus wept on hearing of the death of his friend Lazarus and seeing how sad Lazarus’s sisters were. He also wept over Jerusalem when he foretold its destruction. We should not be immune to feeling for other people, even those we don’t actually know. It’s called compassion. It does not keep us from experiencing joy at all the good things around us. They are as real as the bad things.

Sometimes it’s very hard to be happy.

Christians often suffer persecution, especially in countries where another religion or philosophy is dominant. It also happens here, if you speak up on an issue where Christian teaching differs from the general belief, or where actually practicing honesty or charity makes you unpopular.  They are not the only ones. Any minority can be a target or anyone who is different. It amazes me how well many Christians, among others, cope when on the receiving end. That things sometimes get them down should not surprise anyone.

Do you expect to be always happy?

Some Christians have expectations that are not supported by the Bible or by evidence.  They may have heard the “prosperity gospel” which says if you have faith things will always go your way. They can be most unhappy when reality strikes.

Doubt
To be happy is to overcome doubt with faith
To have faith it is necessary to experience doubt.

Some Christians find it hard to accept that we are a minority. They think everyone should believe. They get depressed at the state of the country and at the indifference to the message.  I hope and believe things are going to change, but there will be many disappointments on the way. Once you have got a realistic view, you should be able to move on out of that kind of depression. Christians have almost always been a minority.

Can you be unable to be happy?

For some people, depression is a medical condition. It takes time and skill to cure it. Christians can become ill, just like anyone else. We get colds, strain our backs and contract diseases. We can also suffer mental illness. I know that God can and does heal all kinds of diseases. He always has – but not 100%. Jesus performed many miracles of healing, but disease did not disappear from the World or from the Middle East while he was around. Having faith does not mean departing from reality.

If Christians are not always happy, isn’t this a U-turn?

NO! None of the above contradicts the assertion that following the teachings of the Bible leads to happiness. And it spreads.

 

Is there any place for religion in crime fiction?

Why is religion mentioned in my books?

As religion or spirituality plays a part in many people’s lives, I have included it in Accounting for Murder, Double Entry. A lot of people say that it’s OK to bring in religion as long as you’re not too preachy. Do you think the book was or not? The characters discuss religion and have different views. I hope you will identify with one or another of them.

If this preacher is ramming religion down your throat it could get up your nose.
If this preacher is ramming religion down your throat it could get up your nose.
What about the sequel?

The supernatural will figure in Accounting for Murder, Old Money, which will be published later this year. There is a ghost in the story. Or is there? That is one of the things the characters don’t agree on. The questions of good and evil and of morality, are also discussed. There is a priest in the story, who expresses views, which are not be what everyone expects, or agrees with.

Is religion relevant in a detective novel?

When you are writing about crime, you cannot avoid some moral judgments. In this case, other moral questions also arise which would raise issues even for a group of atheists. However, for many people, religion is the basis of their morality. Of course, where people think a ghost may be involved, their views on the supernatural are bound to be relevant too.

Faith and doubt may need to exist side by side.
Faith and doubt may need to exist side by side.
What is the theme of the book?

In both books, the main story is a whodunnit. Family and other relationships come into it, as do the characters’ views on several topics, but they are secondary to the issue of solving the mystery. If anything I write makes you think about religion, morality or anything else, I will not be sorry, but above all, I hope you enjoy the read.

The ten elements of happiness according to scientific research

How’s your happiness level?

I have written several times about the findings of recent research on happiness.

Now I am listing all the ten elements. You might not be able to implement all these suggestions, but see how many you can. I hope it will increase your happiness.

A. Accumulation of wealth does not make you happier beyond a certain level.

B. Be yourself. Don’t be a square peg in a round hole.

C. Count your blessings. Think about the plusses.

D. Do good. Happiness grows as you give it away.

E. Enjoy life. Consciously absorb the good things around you.

F. Forgive people who hurt you.

G. Give thanks to people who help you.

H. Health – take reasonable care of it, without becoming obsessive.

I. Invest in relationships – don’t be a recluse.

JK. Just Know how to deal with catastrophes, whether through religion, philosophy or something more down to earth.

Is your happiness real or just a mask?
Is your happiness real or just a mask?
What about me?

I think I do follow a lot of these guidelines and I do enjoy life most of the time. I’m working on some of the points that I have neglected.

What about you?

Go on! Give them a try. Some of them, at least.