A short word on superstition

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It struck me while watching an episode of Robin Hood the other day, that the loss of superstition is not a good thing. We tend to look on superstitious people, be they medieval or modern, as foolish or crazy or maybe even unbiblical – but it hit me that maybe the loss of superstition has been more bad than good for us. It used to be that people believed in the supernatural. People believed in demons, in witches, in curses and spells and ghosts, while nowadays they’re plastic figurines that people hang around their lawns during Halloween. They’ve become so commercialized, so fictionalized, so watered-down and discarded, that they aren’t even considered real anymore.

It’s just that they are real. Witches and demons and curses are not only stuff of spooky tales, they’re the stuff of the Bible. They’re evil, yes – but they’re real. I think our modern ‘enlightenment’ and disbelief in the supernatural is a huge victory for the forces of darkness. Because why would we see something as a threat, if we don’t even believe in its reality?

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18 thoughts on “A short word on superstition

  1. Huh. I think I disagree.
    Superstition, generally, was untrue. Break a mirror… walk under a ladder… throw a black cat under a ladder through a mirror… The majority of superstition, I honestly believe, is based on the pointless fear of things other than God. Superstition is also, at base, things that are not real. Demons and witches and angels? I wouldn’t call those superstitions. Same thing with God. To say, “I think we need to bring back superstitions” seems kind of, well, *off* to me.

    • I think superstition can be taken to a ridiculous level (i.e. ladders, mirrors, salt, horseshoes…whathaveyou) but I think we’ve swung too far the other way and disgregarded pretty much all supernatural stuff as ‘real.’ πŸ™‚

      • I think I have to agree with Seth here. I don’t think that people believe that demons or witches are “superstitions” — if anything, I think that nowadays, people regard them more as myths or fables. The dictionary describes superstition as: “a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like.” While our culture today does have a theme of disregarding the supernatural, I honestly don’t believe that we view witches or demons as superstitions. Superstitions, are based more on action (so, if this happens, then this will happen, or this happened because of this, and so on). And like Seth said, I don’t think we can say that all of the above mentioned ARE regarded as superstitions, partially because being superstitious is having a fear of superstitions (or believing a certain thing will caused or is caused by something). In a sense, it’s like saying, “I think witches are notions caused by a circumstance,” which, honestly doesn’t make sense. BUT, I do agree with you that our culture today does largely dismiss and disregard the supernatural as fiction.

    • I would agree with Seth’s comment. I don’t think witches, devils and demons are ever considered supersition. Ghosts maybe. But, in medieval times, witches were real people. And I also know (from experience) that in China today supersitions are very, very real. So maybe it’s just *some* cultures that have dropped supersitions?

    • It was the episode where Isabella’s husband (one of the only episodes where I find Guy attractive) finds the burial place with gold πŸ˜€ The horse’s head showed up and I went “Oh hey!” XD

  2. superstition: (the definition taken from merriam webster) a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation

    I think I’m going to have to side with Kaleb on this one and call a friendly ‘flag on term’. From what you’ve written Merry-Hearted Whirly Gig, I think you are talking about a return to the belief in the spiritual or supernatural realm. You’re right, we have as a society moved away from that to some extent, industrialization of a people group tends to do that.

    But as Charles Baudelaire said “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist.”

    Evil is real It resides not only in the dark alleyways and unsuspecting corners of class rooms, but in the hearts of men and women.

  3. Hmm… I think it depends where you are… in a state university, like I am currently attending, science rules and the spiritual realm is considered baloney. Pretty much everything you said.
    In the field of medicine, however, the spiritual side of life is getting a huge… reawakening, you could almost call it. Things like ‘healing touch’ (not meaning hugs :P) are HUGE, even in totally mainstream hospitals. I think in general, that view is what is winning. People cannot continue to deny that there is more about us than what we see… and no way are they going to admit the reality of the Judea-Christian God of the Bible… so it’s going to be back to worshiping angels and demons and animals.
    Pretty much I agree with Brannon Howse of Worldview Weekend – he said they were all sure that atheism was the biggest thing to refute, but now everything they’re seeing indicates that atheism was merely opening the way for a return to paganism and pantheism… so you might get superstition back sooner than you thought. πŸ˜›

    I have to admit I’ve had pretty much the same thought, though – I took Ojibwe one semester, and found it absolutely fascinating how Biblical some of the Ojibwe beliefs were/are, and how much closer that world view was to mine than was everybody else’s in the other departments of the college. They were VERY aware of the spiritual realm, and I found it much easier to talk about what I believed in that class than in my Biology classes, where people just wondered how in the world anyone could believe something as stupid as Intelligent Design. πŸ˜›

  4. There’s also the question of terminology – superstition vs. supernatural – in that sense, I would agree with Seth. They do mean different things, even if they are in some ways related.

    I’ve been reading Chesterton’s Orthodoxy (that you quoted a few posts ago!), so the limits of logic and rationality are quite vivid in my mind at the moment. πŸ™‚

  5. Interestingly put. While many so-called “supernatural phenomena” have scientific explanations, others are unable to be explained by scientific means, because there certainly is a supernatural realm. I’m sure many of the academic skeptic types in the secular world like to think they’re much more enlightened than those who believe in the supernatural, but in reality, they are the ones who are being foolish and ignorant…”Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (isn’t that how the verse goes)

    After looking up “superstition” in the dictionary, I think I agree with Seth; two definitions of the word describe an “excessively credulous” or “unjustified” belief in the supernatural, so according to those definitions, superstition is what people hundreds of years ago did when they attributed many things they couldn’t explain (although many can be explained scientifically today) to supernatural causes. However, the direct opposite is obviously not really any better, as you mentioned. So as with many things, I think the truth lies in between* – there’s a balance, a happy medium between the extremes.
    [/slightly silly speech]

    *from See Who I Am, by Within Temptation

    I think Guy was somewhat good-looking (primarily in a dark, “cool Guy” way)…that reminds me – I was kind of sad when he died, even though he’d been a bad Guy for a long time (but he turned good at the end, which is the important thing, right?) But his sister now, she was one evil “wannabe goth babe” (to quote from a Dragons In Our Midst book – the last in the series, if I recall correctly); I think it’s somewhat of a pity Guy didn’t mange to kill her.

    • Man, Isabella is – ooohhhh, I rant about how much I hate her every time we watch the show XD I think Guy is good-looking in a few episodes, but I like him a lot more near the end πŸ™‚ And as for the superstition/supernatural speech (which wasn’t silly, but very good) I believe yes, there should be a balance where we believe in the supernatural but don’t create our own silly ‘superstitions’. πŸ™‚

  6. As a general note to readers – I’m not saying that superstition is a good thing, or that I believe breaking a mirror equals seven years’ bad luck. I’m saying that I think maybe we believed more in the supernatural when we were more superstitious, since the two things very frequently walk side by side in beliefs.

  7. I never thought about it that way before… but you’re right. I used to think it was silly, fictional stuff (due to what you see/hear all the time) but now that you brought it up in a new light, I think you’re bringing up a great point. Leave it to Miri to make us think. πŸ˜‰ You’re amazing, girl. ❀

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