Saturday, September 25, 2010

Make a Wish

We used a rotisserie chicken today to make soup, and in the process I removed the wish bone. After letting it dry overnight, I’m sure tomorrow I will grab hold of one side and my wife will take the other, and we’ll pull…

Even though we’re atheists.

It’s weird. The rituals that aren’t directly associated with religion are easy to embrace, even though I know it’s hogwash. I don’t think getting the bigger half of the chicken bone will grant me a wish, but maybe I could convince myself I just like a little friendly competition (the trick is pull up, not away…).

But what about birthday candles, then? I have no doubt that my children will be given the opportunity to blow out the candles on their birthday cakes. There’s no competition involved, so how am I going to justify this one?

Human beings love ritual, and I have no idea why. It’s quite odd, really, that we derive so much pleasure from just making shit up and repeating it at regular intervals. Just look at Christmas.

“Yeah, we’ll celebrate Jesus being born in a small desert town by hanging glass knick-knacks on an evergreen, and a fat guy in red will break into your house and leave presents under it.”

And Easter’s no better.

“So there’s this rabbit, and it lays eggs… rabbits lay eggs, right? Anyway, we’ll dye the eggs pastel colors…”

I don’t recall eggs in the Bible, does Jesus even like eggs?

“Okay, well… then… we’ll hide them.”

The truth is, no one sits down and thinks of this stuff, we just do it. Some pagans did this stuff, and since we’re all the descendants of pagans… we do it too. Then the pagans were presented with the choice of believing in Jesus or death, and so here we are, a bunch of Christianized pagans (or paganized Christians, I don’t know).

Life is full of strange rituals. You could fill a book with the various rituals we have for eating. How we apply condiments, how we decide where to bite or how to cut, some people even eat a particular meal on the same day of the week, year after year. You could devote chapters to how people eat jelly beans or any sort of multi-flavored candy. Do you eat your least favorites first and save your favorites for last?

But about that wish… if there was such a thing as wishes, what will I wish for if I get the big part of the wishbone tomorrow? I know I’m not supposed to tell… but it would be for there to not be such a thing as wishes, because I can’t think of anything that could be more easily abused.

1 comment:

  1. You are right that the Bible does not endorse Easter eggs (eggs are mentioned in the Bible, but not in the context of Easter or any kind of ritual). But the inconsistency is greater than that. The Bible actually teaches against using Easter eggs (or Christmas trees) because those are customs borrowed from paganism.

    Most people with religious beliefs are just following family traditions and customs without really thinking things through. I don't say all, but most.


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