Nothing to fear today

Published 12:01 am Friday, July 13, 2012

Gillian Pollock throws salt over her shoulder when it spills. She even believes in ghosts (only the friendly ones, of course). But to her, today is just an ordinary day.
“I’m real superstitious,” Pollock said. “I’m just not going to turn out of my frame three times a year because of a number.”
As director of Christian formation at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, youth minister and family minister, Pollock has never had to counsel someone with triskaidekaphobia, or fear of the number 13. She said the topic has never come up. Has the possibility of a ghost on the third floor come up? Sure.
Pollock said she has never worried about Friday the 13th. If she had, any sign of triskaidekaphobia would have become a distant memory eight years ago when she gave birth to her son on the 13th.
“I think it’s just human nature to want to blame something for your misfortune,” Pollock said. “It’s a matter of ‘pick yourself up by your bootstraps and move on’.”
Dr. Michael Price, pastor of First Christian Church, had similar advice for anyone who was afraid to get up this morning.
“Treat it like any other day. Work it out,” he said. “It’s only one day.”
Though, Price did say that a day in bed with the remote and a bag of chips was perfectly fine, too. Across the nation, there will be plenty of people who choose to do just that. Many people will put off making a big purchase, stay away from the stock market and go nowhere near a plane today.
Father M. Arturo Cabra at Mother of Mercy Church said the fear is understandable.
“We live in a world where there are forces of good and evil. But those forces of evil aren’t as powerful as the force of God,” he said.
Cabra grew up in Colombia where the fear of the number 13 was just as strong, only Colombians believed bad luck came on Tuesday the 13th.
Triskaidekaphobia was rampant in the U.S. in the 19th century, according to Nathaniel Lachenmeyer, author of “13: The Story of the World’s Most Popular Superstition.”
Some have said fear of Friday the 13th has its roots in Christianity. The Last Supper was on a Friday. Thirteen people sat at that table and Jesus died the following day. “His betrayer, Judas Iscariot, one of the 12 (Apostles at the Last Supper), also died,” wrote Lachenmeyer.
In the 19th century, one popular fear was that if 13 people sat down to dinner, one of them would die within a year.
One Civil War veteran tried to debunk the superstition by starting the Thirteen Club in New York. Captain William Fowler (who fought in 13 major battles before being forced to resign on the 13th, by the way) recruited 12 people to come to dine with him on Friday the 13th.
Guests had to walk under a ladder and were seated at a table with crossed forks and spilt salt.
The club eventually had more than 400 honorary members, including five presidents of the United States.
History is full of triskaidekaphobes, many who pre-date the Last Supper. Today, many commercial aircraft skip row 13. You will be hard-pressed to find a 13th floor in a hotel, too.
Cabra said superstition is not something people should hold on to.
“We need to have in our life stronger powers behind us. We are to believe that we are in the care of a provident God,” he said.