I've been thinking a lot today about superstition. I knew before I arrived in Peru that superstition had quite a hold on the country, but I never expected to find it among the Protestant or non-religious people here. Nonetheless, I hear bizarre ideas from the most unlikely folks every week. For example, one of my language teachers told me recently of a trick for knowing proper nutrition involving holding a food in one hand and having someone try to pry apart your clenched fingers on the other hand. What?!?
Another thing I've heard about recently from people I respect is that they leave Bibles open in rooms of sick or hurting people. Is that superstition? I suppose it depends on the heart behind it, whether the open Bible is a reminder for the person or whether it is meant to be some magical power. And speaking of Bibles, that same person told me yesterday that it's okay if someone doesn't understand what they are reading in the Bible as long as he/she is reading it. Again, not directly superstition but somewhere related I think. Obviously the majority of the culture has a lot stronger forms of expressing superstition- food left out for spirits, amulets, rituals, etc.
I think the superstition comes partly from Peru's not-forgotten, venerated tribal past but also from the way Catholicism has been expressed here, the way that for many it has disintegrated over the centuries into empty rituals. When sacraments are divorced from faith, what is left but superstition? To kill any suspense, I have a lot to say in support of Catholicism and ecumenicalism, but I will save that for another day. Today I'm just left pondering what kind of importance this pervading superstition might have and what my response could/should be.