Magic Socks

altar-losseres

The hitter draws a cross in the batter’s box, then steps in. He is in the middle of a six-game hitting streak so his socks are ripe with foot funk and good luck. He looks at the pitcher who kisses the cross around his neck, tucks it in his jersey, then taps the pitching rubber three times with his right foot before getting set.

“Don’t strike out,” says the guy on the couch beside me. I smack him. “Don’t say stuff like that.” My hat is inside out and folded in half, balanced on my head like a makeshift mohawk.

At some level we all do it. We kiss a pair of dice before throwing it, or feel an upsurge of hope when we see a four-leaf clover, or suggest that someone play the lottery when things seem to be going well. Most of us would deny any real belief in luck. But is there a hint of something genuine in there? Something primal?

Superstition seems to be imbedded in human psychology. What is the root of it? Ignorance? Insanity? A need to manage things beyond our control? An instinct that there are beings and powers beyond our senses?

Good thing this doesn’t happen in the Church . . .

If superstition is imbedded in human psychology, it would find a natural setting in faith-based communities. Is it even possible to disentangle faith from fantasy?

I propose two tests:

1. The Blend:

Scripture presents a spiritual world and a physical world. Often the physical world is compared to the spiritual through metaphor, symbol and type to help us understand it.

In the movie, Mask, a blind girl is helped to understand color by using her sense of touch, associating red with heat, and blue with cold. In the same way, we can get a sense of spiritual realities by meditating on the biblical presentation of things like trees, water, oil and fire.

It is natural for us to blend the physical with the spiritual. When does the golden cross around our necks begin to protect us rather than the resurrected man that once hung there? When does the act of baptism stop reflecting our spiritual rebirth and actually bring about our rebirth? When does the bread and wine actually become the magical flesh and blood of Christ? Didn’t some ancient cultures believe that eating a smart person’s brain could make them smarter?

2. The Source:

Let’s return to the baseball scenario. Why does the batter refuse to wash his lucky socks? Does he really think there is a power on the socks that passes biologically into his timing and bat speed? Does he think there is a patron god of good swings that lives in the fungus of his socks? What are we talking about when we toy with our fun superstitious rituals? Are we talking about a person or a power? A him or an it?

If you ask people in the Word-Faith community (Copeland, Hagin) they would say that your words have power. With your words, you can unleash blessings and even curses. Some would say that there is power in positivity itself (Schuller, Olsteen, Meyer). Sure, send your prayers, but also positive thoughts. Surround your loved ones with a halo of white light.

Christianity and voodoo are not brothers. We do not play with magic dolls. We do not believe in charms or incantations. We don’t try to manipulate God by quoting in the King James, claiming verses for ourselves, or praying around the clock.

We trust him. We love him. We embrace him. Christianity without superstition is a Christianity based in a relationship.

Person to person. Not person to it.

6 thoughts on “Magic Socks

  1. Yes, Micah 6: 8,
    “He has shown you, O man, what is good;
    And what does the Lord require of you
    But to do justly,
    To love mercy,
    And to walk humbly with your God?”

    Visualize walking humbly with your God. No idols or lucky charms are needed.

    Meanwhile, studies have shown that people can have a slight psychic influence on Random Number Generators. The influence is 6 times as strong with people who are in a close relationship. Experiments in Quantum Physics are also being complicated by the fact that observers influence the outcome of the experiment through the act of observation. These are indicators of a Collective Conscience… call it “The Force” or the Holy Spirit.

    Walk humbly with your God.

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    • Interesting. I’m listening to the biography of Einstein right now (book on CD) and it’s going through the concept of Quantum Physics and why Einstein had such a hard time with it. He claimed that “God does not play dice.” But then . . . these observations are real. Certainly generates thoughts about the nature of the universe. Maybe fodder for another blog. Or two.

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  2. Strip away the lucky socks, icons, and rituals; “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2) Then, to the Son of Man, is given dominion and glory. (Daniel 7: 13-14) And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the Church which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1: 22-23) When the Son of Man departs, the Holy Spirit returns. (John 14: 26) “Then the end will come when he hands over the Kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power… then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.” (I Corinthians 15: 24-28) “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man,it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven.” (Luke 12: 10) So, it begins and ends with the Spirit and not the lucky socks. Go Giants!

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