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Superstition Returns Friday the 13th

When Friday the 13th comes along, some of us surmise something unfortunate might happen. Distant friend and confidant Wu Pu-yi says that such superstitions are world-wide. Fear of the number 13 is one of the most common superstitions in the Western world. Some hotels have no 13th floor, and some airlines fly without a seat row numbered 13.

Brother Wu informed me that the Chinese have no problem with the number 13. The number that scares them is four. In Mandarin Chinese the number four has the same spoken sound as the word for “to die” or “death.” The words are written differently but have the same sound. There are no fourth floors in most of their buildings and certainly no number four for an address. Wu did not know if President Obama, being the 44th president, was a bad omen or not. Wu, like many people around the world, are relieved and thankful America has a new president.

One Friday the 13th I was flying British Airways from London to New York on a plane built to carry several hundred passengers. It had a dozen or so in the economy section, not counting me and the crew. I asked the stewardess if everyone was in first class. She said no–that flights on Friday the 13th always had fewer passengers. On your next flight, check and see if there is a row numbered 13.

Superstitutions (like walking under a ladder or seeing a black cat lurking ahead) are harmless, but if taken too seriously can be dangerous. It’s like reading your horoscope in the daily paper. Some people take the reading so seriously that it interferes with their daily routine.

In the 21st century it is astonishing that so many people believe in astrology. A Gallup poll reports 55 percent of teenagers believe in it. Those who dismiss astrology and the horoscope columns as harmless are misled. Astrology is a myth that, once it gets its foot in the door, leads to unforeseen and dangerous consequences. (I knew a missionary who avidly read the horoscopes. She didn’t last long, fortunately.) Don’t ask me what “sign” I was born under. That stuff is an abomination. My future is not in the stars. Remember they are only tiny rocks. I favor the Rock of Ages.

Friend Wu Pu-yi has experience in the occult and says it is a danger in all societies. From speaking with the dead and tarot cards to ouija boards and lighting candles for the dead in order to help them, nothing we do can have any influence on those who’ve already “crossed Jordan.”

This kind of superstitious behavior is not healthy. The movie industry continues to honor such ignorance as being harmless, even expressing it as true in some films. Look at all the garbage films around Halloween.

“Every heresy,” writes Evan H. Hopkins, one of the founders of the Keswick Convention, “has its root in defective views of sin.” Astrology is but a poor imitation of the life God freely gives to the human race.

We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against power, against the ruler of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. That may be familiar to some readers. It is from Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Christians.

Idolatry. sorcery and witchcraft are not to be played with nor thought to be harmless. I am a strong believer that there is some good in all kinds of religions. It is equally true there is too much superstition in them, including my own Christian heritage.

Britt Towery, a former missionary, lives in San Angelo, Texas. He journals on the Web at www.towerytales.blogspot.com.