Saloma Miller Furlong's Blog
The Luck of the Amish
That’s interesting, Saloma. I’ve not heard of the superstitions regarding knives/scissors, birds, or thunder before, but all the others are familiar and I think very widespread. They are certainly common superstitions in Britain, and clearly not unique to the Amish.
What intrigues me, though, is to ask how the concept of “luck” squares with religion. It always seems to me that people with deeply-held religious beliefs ascribe events, good or bad, to the will of God. Superstition as a whole seems to be incompatible with faith in God. Has that ever struck you as a contradiction?
Very interesting question, Botanist. I’ve been thinking about this ever since you posed it. I don’t think there is an easy answer to this, but I am going to answer it from the point of view of how I thought of it as an Amish person and how I think of it now.
I believed in the Amish concept that God had ordained our lives, but if I dropped a knife and the sharp end stuck into the floor, I saw that as a “sign” of what was to come. So, I saw this as a portend of what was going to happen, not the reason why it happened. So to me, a sign of good luck was the same as saying God had something good in store for me, while a sign of bad luck meant I had a trial ahead of me.
Philosophers have for a long time debated whether free will actually exists. We certainly like to believe it does, otherwise we would feel pretty powerless. However, if we take the will of God to the extreme, is there such a thing as free will? I would like to believe that there is a balance between exercising our free will and submitting it to Divine Guidance. But I still look for “signs” along my way. When I witness a beautiful rainbow in the heavens, hear birdsong in the morning as I awake, or witness spring bursting forth after a long winter, it is like God smiling down. It makes me feel pretty lucky… even just to be alive.
Readers, how would you answer this question? Is superstition incompatible with faith in God? How do you think luck squares with religion?