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In the News: Paraskevidekatriaphobia
By Stan Cox on Jan 12, 2012

Paraskevidekatriaphobia is a medical term, derived from the Greek language, used to nominate the fear of Friday the 13th. (paraskevi—Friday; dekatreís—13; phobia—fear). The day (one of which occurred this past week) is considered by many a day of bad luck, though such a correlation with the date seems to be of relatively recent origin, (the last 150 years or so).

The term phobia is used to designate an extreme or irrational fear or aversion. Consider the following quote from Wikipedia:

According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day. Making it the most feared day and date in history. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. “It’s been estimated that [US]$800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day”
As indicated, there is no rational reason for such fear. It is derived from mere superstition. In numerology, the number 13, (one more than a complete dozen), was considered an irregular, hence, unlucky number. Friday, for whatever reason, has long been considered by some as the most unlucky day of the week. It was inevitable that someone would put the two together.

Are you superstitious? This is a normal question that people ask each other. With a sheepish grin, some may admit to tossing salt over their shoulder upon spilling it, sealing good fortune by knocking on wood, or wearing the same pair of socks over and over to ensure a win in sporting events. Past coincidence can hold a tremendous influence on our thinking, though there is no rational reason to think that “luck” has any bearing on whatsoever on the happenstance of life.

And yet, fortunes are sought, cookies are broken in half, horoscopes are read, and rabbit feet are carried. Others make the sign of the cross, or make sure they turn away from a black cat that crosses their path.

Much damage is done to the cause of Christ when the superstitious are seen to both embrace the Christian faith, and the silliness of such irrational thought. It gives the skeptic a reason, however illegitimate, to lump religion into the same category of ridiculous superstition.

Christianity is not superstition. The Christian faith is based in reason and truth. The gospel of Christ was established through public and irrefutable signs and wonders (cf. Hebrews 2:1-4). Further, the resurrected Christ was witnessed by both friend and foe (cf. 1 Corinthians 15; Acts 9). Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). While the ignorant wallow in superstition, the Christian has been set free from such by their knowledge of God and His will for man.

Be careful that you not fall into this trap. Even seeming innocent joking about your “lucky chair”, or following a recognition of good fortune with the obligatory “knock on wood” can leave an impression with others that you hold to the superstitions of the day. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

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