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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Religion, tradition, superstition

Sometimes,there is a very thin line between religion and superstition. This can be seen here in the country especially during the Holy Week.

Holy Week starts on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday. I remember the lonely Thursdays and Fridays extending till Saturdays of the week during my younger days. There was nothing much that you can do for you were forbidden to play by your parents since you cannot have fun while the Lord suffers. TV stations were out and comes back only at 3:00 pm only to be given reruns from the dinosaur age. This went on till the coming of cable tv. Business establishments were all closed.

But that did not mean we really had nothing to do. You can read the Pasyon, which I could not figure out till now why they have to use a microphone and make the neighbors lose sleep in the evening (probably part of a scheme for unsolicited penitence, huh?), watch the senakulo (a theater production portraying the life of Christ), visit seven churches to do the Stations of the Cross. Not your idea of fun, are they? But these are nothing compared to what other people do. YOu can also see people carry the cross, walk from a to b kneeling and/or flog each other and make a spectacle out of themselves. In Pampanga, people do actually nail human beings to the cross. They would soak their nails in alcohol for one year so as to ensure that these are clean. (Why not holy water, huh? Maybe that makes it all the more potent.)

There is nothing sacred about these things if you ask me. God never instructed us to do just that. And yet we do. If you ask me, Good Friday whould be a time of merriment for on this day, God has fulfilled a covenant with us. But that's just probably me. I cannot even say that these forms of sacrifices are wrong entirely. It just happens to be how people relate with God. And when it comes to matters of faith, each individual is entitled to exercise it in whatever form he/she likes provided it does not cause injury to another.

At any rate, as I have said, we know that there is a thin border between religion and superstition. Much of the practices we see during Holy Week resulted in superstition. Ask most of the people why they exercise the sacrifices they do and most likely, the answer is because these prove that they have won God's favor through some sort of a miracle done to their lives. This is not solely a Catholic endeavor. Many religions have their own practices.

How should one view faith? I think we should look at faith in different perspectives. One is look at it in the eyes of an intellectual, the other as a child. We should view faith as an intellectual so that we can learn to differentiate a miracle from a hoax. That we don't fall prey to exploiters. We should view faith as a child so that we can accept what is that that we cannot explain and believe in it. Too much intellect and you become an agnostic or even an atheist. Too much thinking like a child and you become a fanatic extremist. As we all know, too much of everything is not good.

Happy Easter everyone.

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Blogger Panaderos said...

I totally agree with your views, Rolly. This is just my opinion but I think there's way too many of our people who have a child's view of faith. Devotion to God is driven by fear instead of by love and true faith.

I don't agree with such view. Some people may disagree but after saying my prayers during Holy Week, I kind of tuned out everything else that was happening around me such as the self-flagellations and the "pabasas". They never made much sense to me. I'd rather watch the old Biblical movies or read the Bible or a book.

Happy Easter to you and your family!

9:56 AM  
Blogger Jet said...

God couldn't have put it more simply than when He said, 'Follow me.'

Of course man is a babel and interpretations would run from the most literal to the most imaginative. That's when it gets a little tricky.

As for me, following God in my everyday life is hard enough. Being blessed to be a blessing is more of a cross than anyone might think. I'm too busy doing these to have time getting nailed.

2:44 AM  
Blogger ipanema said...

I always wonder why the holy week is also 'beach week' for most people.

Perhaps being raised in the province with all the superstitions and beliefs thrive, it is hard to do away with it. However, as the years pass, we see the impracticality and the almost 'pagan' view of some. These we try to avoid and retain what we feel is right.

2:21 PM  
Blogger Rey A said...

He died for our sins and on the third day he rose from the dead...I do not need your gifts or sacrifices but your obedience... to love God above all else and to love your fellowman...Happy Easter...it's been a while :)

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my parents follow the holy week tradition. any form of noise-making or merriment is banned at home. i don't see the rationale behind it.

2:30 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

Sorry guys for the late response. I had been very busy.

panaderos Devotion to God is driven by fear instead of by love and true faith."

I have the same views, too.

jet "I'm too busy doing these to have time getting nailed" Good. MAsakit yun ba. :-)

ipanema Old habits die hard but they do fade away. The next generation may be working on a different paradigm.

Rey A Nicely said.

mari malaki ang tanda ko sayo kaya you can just imagine what I had to go through. In fairness, matigas ulo ko nun at hindi naman ako napapalo. hehe

9:19 PM  
Anonymous Pahn said...

Hi!! sorry, medyo ilang araw na kasi ung easter. Just wanted to inform you po pla that I have updated about Earth Hour.. I wanted to invite you also to blog about it if possible so invite more people. I do not see any contact, so I'll just comment it here

have more info and countdown at:
http://agpahn.net/2008/03/26/earth-hour/ or http://www.earthhour.org/


2:20 AM  
Blogger ipanema said...

you're right. everything will change one way or another.

2:23 PM  
Blogger bayi said...

I couldn't agree more with what you have said.

This happens too in the other religions.

But whether we introduce solemn programs on the radion or TV to mark the seriousness of a religious occasion, ever action must be done in the right spirit and everyone must know why things are done this way. More often than not, the younger generations may have other views and they don't buy in. This is partly because they have been left ignorant of why certain things are done this way. And actions in religion have a way of being carried out overboard by zealots who are more into form than substance.

I have always been a firm advocate of self soul-searching without having to resort to "religious" actions that show me to be remorse. If I fast I would behave energetically as though it is a normal day (without eating, of course! This is in contrast to people who would not comb their hair and behave as though they ar really suffering for the Lord!

May the Easter be meaningful for everyone!

5:07 AM  

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