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and my efforts to become a saint

When I was a kid, in New York City, Halloween was one of my favorite times. It brought out my avaricious nature and I planned my costume a week in advance, which is long term planning for a kid. The costume I remember best included a ping-pong ball stuck on my nose, painted red with my mother's nail polish and lit from the inside by a small light bulb. At that time, a kid could go door to door, building by building, screaming "Trick or Treat." I do not imagine that this is a very safe kid's activity, in these times.

Halloween originated from the ancient Celtic festival Samhain. The festival of Samhain (“summer’s end”) was celebrated the night before the New Year, presided over by the Lord of the Dead (Welsh = Arawn, Irish = Donn). The Celts traditionally recognized a twofold division of the year, summer running from Beltane (“fire of Bel” = Belenus, Celtic Christ), the Vernal Equinox to Samhain, (the Autumnal Equinox), and winter running from Samhain to Beltane. During this festival, Celts believed the souls of the dead returned to mingle with the living and food was left on the doors for them. In order to scare away the evil spirits, people would wear masks and light bonfires. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century.

The term Halloween (and its alternative rendering Hallowe'en) is shortened from All-hallow-even, as it is the eve of "All Hallows' Day", which is now known as All Saints' Day. It was a day of religious festivities in various northern European Celtic traditions, until Popes Gregory III and Gregory IV moved the old Christian feast of All Saints' Day from May 13 to November 1. In the ninth century, the Church measured the day as starting at sunset, in accordance with the Florentine calendar. Although All Saints' Day is now considered to occur one day after Halloween, the two holidays were, at that time, celebrated on the same day.

Just as the Roman Church took over the holiday from the previous religion, materialism, the new religion, has taken over the holiday.

I was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition and I left it long ago. I am also finished with materialism. I have also tried many 'costumes', seeking my identity, though in some way, I feel the clown with the flashing red nose could be the real me.

As I fumbled through my religous identities, I tried to be a saint. After all, I was taught that everything I needed to know for salvation was in the Bible, a "how-to" manual for sainthood... how very convenient.

First, I had to get a microscope to ensure that my clothing did not mix wool and linen (Deut. 22:11).

Then, I had to modify my vocabulary, because I could not utter the names of false gods (Exodus 23:13), which means that "I'll have lunch with you on Thursday" or "let's get play ball on Wednesday" are flat out, since Thursday, Wednesday and Tuesday honor Thor, Woden and Zeus, respectively. I insisted that I be called "JOE" and addressed my father, as "PETE", because our common baptismal name, Denis, is derived from Dionysius, the god of love and wine.

Riding the subway to school became rather complicated, since according to Leviticus. (15:19), I could not even sit on a chair a menstruating woman has occupied.

I allowed the sides of my hair to grow uncut (Lev. 19:27), and by the end of the year my fashion-challenged combination of long earlocks and all-white garments (Eccl. 9:8) caused people to cross to the other side of the street rather than encounter me.

I even found a source for chocolate-covered crickets to fulfill Leviticus (11:22)

Some of the biblical mandates brought me into conflict with "PETE", who was a NYC homicide detective. The notion that one should break the neck of a cow near the scene of an unsolved murder (Deut. 21:4) was a bit too bizarre for him. And, as "PETE" carefully explained to me, some recommendations (e.g., "kill magicians") are downright illegal.

I began looking for a different identity, because becoming a saint was too confusing. I realized that my quest was inherently Protestant, even though I was told I was a Catholic. The idea that an individual could strip all the layers of interpretation away to attain a pristine and plain truth is the quintessence of Protestantism, based on the elementary Protestant principle of sola scriptura.

Now that I have been given a Swiss identity, I suppose I need to become a Calvinist.

Any questions??