Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween as a Mockery of the Devil

By John Sanidopoulos

"The devil was bound by the Lord as a sparrow, that we should mock him. And with him are placed his companions the demons, like serpents and scorpions to be trodden underfoot by us Christians."

- St. Anthony the Great

It has often been said by certain Christians that Halloween is a Satanic holiday, a day of homage to the devil. This is a regrettable notion, since Halloween in fact is the exact opposite. But how did such thinking come to be?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Being a Kind and Generous Representative of Your Household on Halloween

By Lori Clanton

I’ve noticed a Halloween trend. Some families and kids are traveling outside their own neighborhoods to go trick-or-treating. This means that some neighborhoods get more than their share of costumed visitors, and other neighborhoods get just a few. While some have grumbled about this pattern, I propose we embrace this opportunity to do something remarkable on Halloween – reach out in an outpouring of hospitality to both our neighbors and strangers.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

How Candy and Halloween Became Best Friends

The origins of trick-or-treating, a relatively recent phenomenon.

By Samira Kawash
October 21, 2010

Wherever you turn this October, candy beckons. Americans will spend an estimated $2 billion on candy during the Halloween season this year, and here's a fun fact from the California Milk Processors Board: "an average Jack-O-Lantern bucket carries about 250 pieces of candy amounting about 9,000 calories and about three pounds of sugar."

Saturday, October 28, 2017

21 Horror Movies That May Interest Orthodox Christians

Orthodox Christianity is often talked about as being mystical and strange, which lends itself well in the horror genre. Greek and Slavic folklore also provide for it unique creatures and frightening tales. Most do not realize how many Orthodox themes or items of interest uniquely to an Orthodox audience are shown in horror films, which is why I compiled a list of some of my favorites below. Most of these can be found and streamed online (feel free to contact me if you can't locate them). If you are a horror movie fan, I recommend them all. If you don't like horror movies, I recommend none. View at your own discretion.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Experiences With Greek Vampires (An Account from 1899)

JOHN ROBERT SITLINGTON STERRETT (1851-1914) was an American archaeologist, a Classical scholar, and a professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He traveled extensively throughout Greece, Turkey, and the Near East (including the famed 1907-08 Cornell Expedition to Asia Minor and the Assyro-Babylonian Orient) to explore Classical history. He also made some pioneering efforts in Hittite studies. On one of his travels to Greece, Sterrett came across the folk belief in vampires, which he, following other authorities, saw as a degraded echo of Classical mythology. In August 1899, he published the following account of his experiences with Greek vampires in The Nation.

By J. R. S. Sterrett

Amherst, August, 1899

Some years ago the writer, accompanied by a friend, was travelling on foot in Greece. One day, after sunset, we reached an isolated farmhouse, situated on the edge of what was then the great Copaic morass, immediately north of Orchomenus. We had been tramping through Greece for seven weeks; we were very footsore, and a long walk had made us unusually tired and hungry on that particular day. As we approached the house, we were greeted by the barking of a huge, and apparently very savage, dog, who made frantic efforts to break his chain in order to gratify his burning curiosity In regard to the two forlorn travellers. Had we known what was to follow, the dog would have inspired us with more respect, but we had seen many Grecian curs masquerading as lions, though at heart they were as cowardly as hares. So, trusting to knowledge born of experience with other dogs, we scarcely deigned to notice the vigorous protests of this savage beast. Arrived at the door of the farmhouse, we knocked once and again. Apparently the house had no Inmate. But after a time the door opened cautiously, and a burly Albanian peasant appeared in the doorway extending towards us a pair of tongs in which was held a live coal of fire. The extraordinary performance rendered us for the moment speechless with astonishment. The peasant, pale and apparently quivering with terror, stood but for a moment holding the coal of fire towards us. Then, without having uttered one word, be hastily closed the door in our faces and bolted it with care.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Heretics as Vampires and Demons in Russia

Title: "Heretics as Vampires and Demons in Russia"

Author: Felix J. Oinas

Source: The Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 22, No. 4, (Winter, 1978), pp. 433-441

Published by: American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages

In English, heretic (Greek hairetikos "able to choose") means "a person who professes any heresy; especially, a church member who holds beliefs opposed to the official church doctrines."' The meaning of the word eretik, "heretic" in Russian is basically the same: "the follower of heresy, a person who deviates from the dogmas of the predominating church." The question regarding the Old Believers is not clear: some do and others do not include them as heretics.2 Primarily in the Russian north, "heretics "have developed into a heterogeneous group of sorcerers, witches, and vampires called eretik, eretnik, eretica, eretnica, erestun, and others. Zelenin includes heretics (eretnik) among sorcerers (Zauberer) and remarks that they do not belong to evil forces and do not have tails.3

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Modern Greek Vampire Tale

Greeks believed that a human could become a Vrykolakas after death by having lived an ungodly life, being buried on unconsecrated ground, being excommunicated or by having eaten the meat of a lamb that had been injured or killed by a wolf. Some Greek legends insinuate that even a werewolf could become one of the Vrykolakas upon it’s death. Individuals that had red hair and grey eyes were suspected of having been one of the undead, which is intriguing as other ancient vampire lore states that any vampire with red hair was a direct descendant of Judas Iscariot’s cursed blood line.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Vampire of the Greek Island of Lesvos

Rusted iron spikes pierce the neck, pelvis, and ankle of this skeleton, found in a Turkish cemetery on the Greek island of Lesbos (Hector Williams)

Eight-inch iron spikes nail down the identification of a 19th-century vampire burial near Mytilene.

By Hector Williams

The well-preserved skeleton of a middle-aged man, nailed to his coffin with eight-inch iron spikes, has been found in a 19th-century Turkish cemetery near the north harbor of Mytilene, the principal city of the Greek island of Lesbos (or Lesvos). Researchers from the University of British Columbia and the Tenth Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities discovered the skeleton in a stone-lined crypt hollowed out of an ancient city wall. They had been excavating on a government owned plot in a study of Mytilenean archaeology. The man had been nailed through his neck, pelvis, and ankle. According to 18th- and 19th-century travelers, suspected vampires were nailed to their caskets to keep them from rising from the dead. That a Moslem would be buried this way is of particular interest since such burials were predominantly a Christian practice.

Source: This news brief first appeared in ARCHAEOLOGY, March/April 1994, p. 22.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Vampires of Santorini

By Camilla Howe

What pops into your mind when you think of Santorini? Is it images of wild volcanic scenery, magical sunsets, dark sandy beaches and pretty whitewashed houses with blue domed roofs? Or endless sunshine, laid-back tavernas, quaffable red wine and fashionable nightlife? If so, you're not wrong; the southern Cycladic island has all this in spades. But there's a darker underbelly to the Greek paradise that few people are aware of.

Forget Transylvania, with its infamous, blood-thirsty Count Dracula. It's Santorini that's thought to be the place in the world most inhabited by vampires. But why Santorini? Greek legend has it that suspected vampire corpses were rowed across to islands for burial, as these spooky ghouls were supposedly unable to cross sea water. Santorini and neighbouring islets Thirassia and Kameni are believed to house many of them, basically acting as mass dumping grounds for the undead.

The undeniably beautiful landscape can certainly appear a little sinister on occasion.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Halloween and the Aesthetic of Evil

By G. Shane Morris

A while back, my friend Steven Wedgeworth wrote an outstanding essay over at The Calvinist International on the origins of Halloween. It’s an annual must-read. The gist is that Halloween is not some ancient pagan festival or even Christian subversion of demonic shenanigans (as a lot of Christian writers have claimed over the years). The truth is far more boring. Halloween as we know it is really little more than a 20th century invention designed to sell stuff.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Religion in Gothic Literature

By Wendy Fall, Marquette University

Christianity and the idea of religion in general is explored in the Gothic through its presences and absences. Sometimes in the Gothic, religion is evaluated in terms of its relative deviation from rationality, which was a valued attribute for the new definitions of the proper English person. Methodists, for example, who were too passionate and exhibited too much fervor in their religious ecstasies, therefore Methodism wasn't good for the proper English person. The Gothic also explored religion in terms of history, critiquing the reasoning for the crusades, inflating the horrors of the inquisition in service of anti-Catholic rhetoric, comparing the strength of Christian piety to demonic temptation, and questioning the role of religion in education.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Origin of Evil and the Evil-Doer


At the dawn of creation, before God made the visible world, but after the creation of the angels, there was a great catastrophe, of which we have knowledge only by its consequences. A group of angels opposed itself to God and fell away from Him, thereby becoming enemies of all that was good and holy. At the head of this rebellion stood Lucifer, whose very name (literally meaning 'light-bearing') indicates that originally he was good. By his own will he changed from his natural state into one which was unnatural; he opposed himself to God and fell away from good into evil. Lucifer, also called the devil (Greek diabolos - 'divider', 'separator', 'slanderer'), belonged to one of the highest ranks in the angelic hierarchy. Together with him other angels also defected, as the Book of Revelation tells us metaphorically: 'And a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch... and a third of the stars was struck, so that a third of their light was darkened' (Rev.8:10, 12). Some commentators therefore say that along with the morning star a third of the angels fell away.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Movie: "The Crucifixion" (2017)

Inspired by the true story of a Romanian Orthodox nun who was killed after an exorcism gone wrong in 2005, the movie The Crucifixion has been released, even though a critically acclaimed film was already made in 2012 called Beyond the Hills.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Towards a Theology of Gore

By Daniel Otto Jack Petersen

Fake blood dripping from mouths and fake blades protruding from faux wounds on Halloween. It's as much a part of the ludic pageantry as monsters and webs and gravestones and the rest. What do we make of the gory, bloody element of this holiday?

Right when I started trying to write my own take on a zombie tale, I was immediately confronted with the need for a theology of gore. I wondered for a moment what the Bible could possibly have to say on grotesque and gruesome material like this. It was only for a moment. Immediately my mind was flooded with the copious amounts of gore that splatter the pages of Scripture: Jael and her famous tent peg assassination, Ehud and his famous surprise disembowelment of an obese king, that messed up Levite that dismembered his raped and murdered concubine and sent the pieces of her body all round the country, dogs eating up the body of wicked Queen Jezebel except for the feet and hands and skull, people in a besieged city fighting over whose baby to eat next, and just generally the beheadings and hangings and spears and swords and arrows thrusting people through, blood and guts a spilling.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Haunting Theology: How the Gothic Mode Can Speak to Christians

John Martin, The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

By Geoffrey Reiter

Tis the season for monsters, mad scientists, and dark and stormy nights. The history of horror and its association with All Hallows’ Eve is a fascinating topic in itself, but one of the most pertinent branches to this spooky old tree is the strand of fiction we now call the Gothic. More than just a moniker for black-garbed teenagers, the Gothic is an enduring strand woven throughout literature, art, and film over the past two and a half centuries. And despite a reputation (not wholly unearned) for being too bleak for innocent evangelical eyes, the Gothic often brings out some valuable points that remain relevant to Christians, whether we like to face them or not.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Confession of Saint Cyprian of Antioch

All you who take offence at the mysteries of Christ, take a look at my tears, and take notice of the power of all that is contained in them. All you who delight in the customs that come from demons, learn from me the vanity of the mockeries in them. For neither will any of you be able to be more god-fearing than I was formerly, nor be able to examine the things concerning the so-called gods more than I, nor be able to attain more energy from them. I am Cyprian, who from tender talons was dedicated to Apollo as a valuable gift and still as a child was initiated into the dramaturgy of the dragon. I was not yet seven years old when I entered the mysteries of Mithras, and seeing how I was an Athenian foreigner I was quickly made a citizen by my parents; when I was still ten years old, I carried the torch for Demeter and submitted to the white sorrow of Kore, and I served the serpent of Pallas on the Acropolis as I was promoted to temple servant. Then I arrived on Mount Olympus, the dwelling place, as they say, of the gods, and I was initiated into the communion of sound and the recounting of noises. I saw there trees that produce visions and herbs appearing to operate by divine intervention. I saw there the successions of seasons as the winds changed and the diversity of days brought about by certain opposing energies. I saw there bands of demons chanting, and others making war, and others lying in ambush, deceiving, and confounding, and I beheld there the phalanx of every god and goddess as I waited for forty days in that place from which, from kingdoms so to speak, they send out the winds to activate each of them on the earth and among all nations.

Read the entire text here.