November 26, 2007

[soo-per-stish-uhn]

su·per·sti·tion

–noun
1. 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.
2. a system or collection of such beliefs.
3. a custom or act based on such a belief.
4. irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious, esp. in connection with religion.
5. any blindly accepted belief or notion.

superstitious

c.1386, from O.Fr. superstitieux, from L. superstitiosus, from superstitionem (nom. superstitio) "prophecy, soothsaying, excessive fear of the gods," perhaps originally "state of religious exaltation," related to superstes (gen. superstitis) "standing over or above," also "standing by, surviving," from superstare "stand on or over, survive," from super "above" (see super-) + stare "to stand," from PIE base *sta- "to stand" (see stet). There are many theories for the L. sense development, but none has yet triumphed. Superstition is attested from 1402. In Eng., originally especially of religion; sense of "unreasonable notion" is from 1794.

...Now in thinking about the supernatural and word associations with the word superstitious I find the whole thing interesting. When the word superstition is mentioned people associate it with fear and irrationality. It is interesting to note that in 1402 the word had more of a religious meaning to it while in 1794 it was equated with unreasonable. That is strictly due to the main philosophy of that time and place; the enlightenment(I think that's what it was called). The main virtues of that time were reason and knowledge not blind faith.

As christians we are ultimately superstitious. We believe in the supernatural. A virgin birth, a rising from the dead and apocalyptic event(s) with supernatural overtones to it. We believe in an invisible spiritual realm and in angels and demons. We believe in miracles. I personally believe that the existence of hope is supernatural. When did fear ever come into this? and why?

John Wesley stressed the importance of reason but not at the expense of blind faith.

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