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I would like to add that Davies found it very important that many people have superstitions and do not even realize it. They may think that other people are silly because they have superstitions but in fact have superstitions of their own.
One reason that people are superstitious is because being that way gives them a sense of control. They feel if they do something a certain way then they may be preventing something bad from happening.
Here are a few more examples for you. Vain observances include throwing salt over your shoulder after spilling it. Divination is reading the daily horoscope in the newspaper. Idolatry is having a rabbits foot for good luck. And lastly, improper worship of a deity may be bargaining with God to get something you want.
- Vain observances. This is where you do stuff that is not really going to help you, but you think it does. The example given is of making sure you do not walk under a ladder.
- Divination. The example given is using the I Ching to tell a fortune. Later on, the example of the Italian who didn't want to meet a nun right off would be from this type.
- Idolatry. Good luck charms.
- Improper worship of the deity. Example given is of the student putting money under a candle at church so God would help him get this girl.
Robertson Davies in his essay "A Few Kind Words for Superstition" identifies four forms of superstition. These are: (1) Vain Observances, (2) Divination, or consulting oracles, (3) Idolatry, and (4) Improper Worship of the True God.
Vain Observances involves doing or not doing certain because of superstitious beliefs. Like Some people may prefer to stay indoors rather than venture out of their homes if the date 13 falls on a Friday. Divination or consulting divination is the kind of superstition involves belief in some divine power of a person to guide them. Idolatry, is belief in power of not a person but a thing to help or protect you. It might involve wearing your lucky shirt when going for an important meeting, wearing a ring with a particular type of gem, or wearing a charm. Improper worship involves indulging in rituals rather than having true faith in power and goodness of God.
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