(Pic: Granddauaghters Hannah and Kaylah)

Should Christians celebrate Halloween?

Google “Should Christians celebrate Halloween?” and you’ll get about one thousand sites covering everything from “it’s completely harmless” to “it’s completely hellish.” Here’s site 1,001 that’s somewhere in the middle: Yes, no and maybe

Are presidential candidates “Christian”?

In a 2004 interview in the Chicago Sun Times, Democractic candidate Barack Obama columnist revealed why it is so difficult to answer that question:

“Part of the reason I think it’s always difficult for public figures to talk about this is that the nature of politics is that you want to have everybody like you and project the best possible traits onto you. Oftentimes, that’s by being as vague as possible, or appealing to the lowest common denominators. The more specific and detailed you are on issues as personal and fundamental as your faith, the more potentially dangerous it is.”

In the Sun Times interview, Obama told columnist Cathleen Falsani, “I am a Christian. So, I have a deep faith. I’m rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people.”

Some of those paths include his father whom Obama described as an “agnostic,” his Muslim paternal grandfather, and his mother whom he describes today as a “Christian,” but in his 1993 memoir, Dreams from My Father, remembers as “a lonely witness for secular humanism” who believed “thoughtful people could shape their own destiny.”

Consequently, Obama told Falsani that he does not believe anyone is going to hell and that he is unsure he is going to heaven. “I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die.”

Republican candidate John McCain is less candid about his faith, saying in a BeliefNet interview with Dan Gilgoff, “I am a Christian and I attend a Baptist church. I pray every day. I ask for guidance. I ask for strength.” But any elaboration is “a private matter between me and my Creator.”

So, in this election, I’m not voting based on who or who is not a “Christian.” (Obama seems more a Universalist rather than orthodox Christian and McCain seems to be less than candid about his Christianity.) I’m casting my ballot for whom I believe is best suited to restore the economy, make health care and a good education available for all Americans, and protect our country from both internal and external threats.

Indianapolis Christian Writers Conference: November 7-8

I’ll be teaching two classes at the Indianapolis Christian Writers Conference next Friday and Saturday: Crossing Over with the Cross on writing for the general market and From Stage to Page on turning messages into manuscripts. I’ll also be meeting with potential writers for Vista, Wesleyan Publishing House’s “take-home paper.” (And, click here for a ream of writers’ resources.)

I hope to meet many of you there.