Friday, February 24, 2006


Wrote this yesterday--didn't remember to put it into my blog until I woke up this morning. Grrr. My first waking thought should not be of blogging.

Karp Reading

A Curse by Any Other Name
Bad luck vs. Witchcraft in comparative cultures

Karp encourages his reader to take a somewhat objective standpoint when analyzing other cultures. He suggests, that instead of viewing the African culture with a sense of condescending detachment, that we instead parallel many of the African beliefs to our own, or at least juxtapose them, for the sake of comparison. My favorite of these would have to be the comparison on page 204 with the amusing comparison of witchcraft to the more “civilized” concepts of “chance” and “bad luck.” I laughed out loud as I read this, because I’ve always loved this sort of comparison. While many people scoff at the concepts of witchcraft and magic, they will still attribute uncontrollable events to “luck” or “chance,” an equally intangible power.
I suppose this reading rang true with me because I have made these arguments before. I’ve always believed that claims of magic and other powers are just as valid as anything invoked in Christianity. These are things I have said over and over to others, trying to argue the case for holistic healing and other things dismissed as “nonsense” by those who pray to and unseeable God and dead savior. Perhaps I am being unfair.
Karp doesn’t exactly argue for the reality of the claims of which doctors, but specifically that the reasoning for such beliefs is not something to be scoffed at. “It would be sheer madness to believe that Africans are unconcerned with controlling their environment” was a phrase that stuck with me in particular, as it describes succinctly a major reason often offered for the existence of any religion or believe in a supernatural power. But given the vivid description offered by Karp of the environs of Africa, it leaves little wonder in the mind of the reader as to why any persons living there would try to devise a way to control their environment, or at least influence it.

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