Wednesday, May 13, 2009


A gray and rainy day in Streeterville. Currently it's 68 degrees at the Mini. The sky, the lake, the view from the 14th floor is just gray. Another of those London-like days. Perhaps I should count them, to get a London index for the area. We'll contact the statistics department.

As Pogo used to say, "Looks like Friday the 13th comes on a Wednesday this month." As with many superstitions, I'm not quite sure where this belief in bad luck on Friday the 13th came from. Apparently Wikipedia isn't either, though they carted out various theories. What they did give me was "Paraskavedekatriaphobia" which is the word for fear of Friday the 13th." (Funny I thought it was "badteenagerslashermovie.") Then there is triskaidekaphobia, the general fear of the number 13 itself. I know you all have been chomping at the bit for this bit of verbal trivia. Now you have it.

Frankly, most superstitions seem pretty silly. Salt over your shoulder? What a waste. Step on a crack. Break your mother's back. Watch me. Black cats? I've owned several over the years. Good kitties, one and all. Break a mirror and bad luck? Well, it might be bad luck if you don't pay attention and cut yourself on the shards. Don't walk under ladders. I can see that one. Stuff falling on your head is bad, no argument. For that matter saying "Bless you," when someone sneezes is pretty darned silly. I did find out where that originated. It seems that during the Middle Ages people believed that when you sneezed your soul came out through your nose and could be grabbed by the Devil, thus the need for "Bless you." Oh my.

There are amazing things that people choose to believe boys and girls. All of those old polytheistic religions had some wonderful stuff, gods springing from the heads of other gods. Gods who caused the sun to come up in the morning and set in the evening by driving a flaming chariot across the sky. Gods who caused the rains to come and the crops to flourish. How about that Hindu guy Gonesh, with an elephant's head. For that matter, I've always found the concept of reincarnation a bit questionable. We all come back again and again? The population keeps getting bigger. Where do the new souls come from? Which people are newbie souls and which are recycled? Is anyone really enlightened enough to get off the wheel?

Truthfully, I always liked the Marvel Comics guy Thor, but hey the real Norse god version, creating thunder with his hammer? It seems that a lot of the old gods just were primitive ways of explaining things that science later explained for real, and then the gods got debunked. Then along came things like this one religion where people believed that these two gods, Ahura Mazda (Sounds like a Japanese car, no?) the good god, and Ahriman, the evil god of darkness, battle for control of people's souls and depending on which you choose, you are rewarded with Paradise or punished with a fiery furnace forever. Sound familiar? It's Zoroastrianism and predates Chrisitianity by 400-500 years.

It all sounds a little goofy to me. There's this one religion that actually believes that there was this guy who was born to a mother who was never impregnated, or was she impregnated by an angel? I forget. Then it turns out the guy is the son of an omnipotent god who allows him to be tortured and killed. Then the guy gets up and walks away after he's dead and then he rises up to the sky. He promises "Oh I'll be back one day." Right! At least Douglas MacArthur followed through on his promise and did return to the Philippines. Gotta respect that. Anyway back to this last goofy superstition. In this religion there is a Paradise (Heaven) and a punishment (Hell) and a good guy (Jehovah) and a bad guy (Lucifer), and at the end of time a big shootout at the OK Corral and the good guys are gonna win and live triumphantly forever and the bad guys will be punished for their treachery forever. Guess what. That is Christianity in a nutshell, but it is every last bit cribbed from Zoroaster. Check it out. I do not lie. Only the names were changed to protect the innocent. What? You mean Jesus was a plagiarist? Yeah. And the Romans ripped off the Greeks.

I guess the thing that kills me is that no one has ever seen God and yet they persist in believing in this guy. No one except schizophrenics have ever had a conversation with God. People pray and pray, yet he never returns the call. Since the scientific revolution, it seems that miracles have all but gone away. Nowadays we can explain most phenomena scientifically. And for all the talk of eternal souls, no one I have ever known has seen one, except in the movies or on TV.

The dictionary tells us that a superstition is a belief not based on reason or knowledge. That, boys and girls is what is known as "faith." It is what every religion in the world is based on. It is also what belief in the bad luck of the number 13 is based on. Sorry to report this but I have to admit that I find every religion in the world guilty as charged, in this respect. Religions may give a great many people solace. They may pass along some social norms and moral precepts, but that doesn't make them true any more than the belief that black cats crossing your path engender bad luck. Christians like to believe that all other religions sound pretty silly when examined closely. Taken from an objective standpoint, so does Christianity.

Personally I prefer the teachings of the Reverend RD and The Church of There Ain't No God, But There Sure As Hell Is Morality. Now if you'll excuse me I find that it's bad luck to continue writing beyond the accepted dinner hour.

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