What are you going to dress up as for “Demonic Spirit Day”? That’s what some evangelicals are calling Halloween this year. Dahleen Glanton of The Chicago Tribune covers the bases on this perennial story that’s taken on a new twist this year, since Halloween has fallen on Sunday, the Christian sabbath. Some Christians propose at least moving it to Saturday, which is, incidentally, the Jewish shabbat. Maybe I’ll go as Henny Youngman…

Diarmaid MacCullough, an Oxford historian who’s one of the preeminent scholars of the Reformation, warns that those who ignore Martin Luther’s legacy may be doomed to live through the bloody wars like those of his times: “Donald Rumsfeld talked darkly of ‘old Europe’. If he had wanted to find the real old Europe, he should have looked to the mid-West of the United States. There the Reformation lives. If we begin to understand that, we will see why Europeans find it hugely difficult to understand what is going on in American politics, and why our two cultures are now so dangerously far apart.”

Terry Mattingly says surgical makeover show “The Swan” is an overlooked religion story.

A federal judge in Montana has ruled that Montana State University must stop giving federal funds from Bush’s faith-based initiatives program to parish nursing programs, deciding it was impossible to separate parish nurses’ religious activities from other aspects of their work. The judge, Richard Anderson, wrote in his decision, “‘This blatant public endorsement and preference of faith and religion over non-faith and irreligion runs afoul’ of the First Amendment ban on government establishment of religion.”

Some critics in Norway and Sweden are angry that the Nobel Peace Prize concert will be co-hosted by Tom Cruise, arguing that it’s too difficult to separate “‘artist Tom Cruise from Scientology Tom Cruise,'” and that Cruise’s Church of Scientology will consider the event a “‘validation and use it as far as they can.'” The critics apparently had no qualms about the religious beliefs of the other co-host, Oprah Winfrey.

“What you say on the Internet can affect your real life.” A Live-Journal blogger gets a visit from the Secret Service

What’s the flavor of Bush’s much-touted optimism? Robert Wright, writing in The New York Times, looks to Bush’s daily reading for some clues, and finds that Oswald Chambers, author ofMy Utmost for His Highest, teaches a particularly grim optimism that’s light on details and discourages reflection. Commit yourself to Jesus and surrender your will to God’s at all time. “But what exactly does God want? Chambers gives little substantive advice. There is no great stress on Jesus’ ethical teaching – not much about loving your neighbor or loving your enemy. (And Chambers doesn’t seem to share Isaiah’s hope of beating swords into plowshares. ‘Life without war is impossible in the natural or the supernatural realm.’) But the basic idea is that, once you surrender to God, divine guidance is palpable. …And you shouldn’t let your powers of reflection get in the way. …Chambers warns: ‘Beware when you want to ‘confer with flesh and blood’ or even your own thoughts, insights, or understandings – anything that is not based on your personal relationship with God. These are all things that compete with and hinder obedience to God.'”