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A Jamie Oliver for Hallowe’en

THE RESTORATION of All Saints Day and All Souls Day in thnational consciousness is clearly some way off. A trip round the displays iWoolworths or Clinton Cards reveals that the 21st-century Halloween haconsiderable bulk, but no substance, and not the slightest connection to thChristian teaching behind the season that is, a joyful celebration of thsaints in glory, and a sober contemplation of death and what lies beyond. The growth of support for the Bishop of Boltons Halloweechoice campaign is, therefore, a welcome sign that a change might be afootSeveral elements have come together. One is that, as our cover showsHalloween accoutrements are getting nastier. Some of the retail chains havgiven disingenuous replies to enquiries about their stock of grotesque maskand devils horns, suggesting that they merely supply what people want. Buwhat parent, buying a mask for a primary-school-age child, would demansomething scarier? Another element is the push by church leaders to protecchildren from commercial exploitation (Dr Williams) and from violence (DSentamu). Childhood in the present day contains enough dangers and fear. festival that focuses on the manufacture of more seems ill-thought-out.But this is the point about Halloween. Nobody has thoughabout its modern manifestation. Retailers work simply on the principle thasensationalism sells. The Church, theologically divided over its relationshipwith those in the heavenly realm, has taken to grumbling, but little elseThere are a few sanitised childrens parties, but these are often accompanieby dire warnings about evil spirits and dabbling in the occult, thus giving thimpression that the Church is fearful of the forces of darkness, whatever themay be though the suggestion of the Bishop of Ebbsfleet (Se< href="/80256fa1003e05c1/httppublicpages/424dadd846c9edb48025720b00541f73?opendocumentLetters)  that All Saints and Guy Fawkes fireworks be combined, hamerit.The wisdom of the Bishop of Boltons campaign is that idoes not attempt to ban the festival. After all, Jamie Oliver did not try tstop people eating. Instead, he directed consumers and retailers towardhealthier alternatives. Were the Bishop to pursue an anti-commercial line, hwould surely fail, since the financial interests involved are too greatInstead, he appears to be successfully recruiting supermarkets anmanufacturers to the task of finding healthier alternatives to the vacuoudabbling with horror that exists at present. The Church needs their help: idoes not have the power to turn the festival round on its own.Organised frights are fun, as the popularity of horror filmattests. The journey to adulthood involves coping with fear the first day aschool, the first job interview and, underneath all these, the fear of deathwhich develops by fits and starts. These steps into self-confidence need to bsupervised as much as possible. Handing children over wholesale once a year tthe care of wholesalers is a particularly unintelligent thing to do. Perhapparents are beginning to realise this. 

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Thu 5 Mar 15 @ 15:32
The new issue of the Church Times is out tomorrow. Here is our preview > http://t.co/FlcT6aI2og http://t.co/4hwaf6nYCk

Thu 5 Mar 15 @ 10:30
Canon Beasley is currently director of mission in the diocese of Oxford.