Other Names: Cult of relics
Dependence on amulets, charms and talismans
Nature: Belief that the possession or wearing of an object charged with certain powers will procure for its owner the benefits of those powers. Such objects are regarded with irrational reverence. Any one who wears or carries these, who touches them, who prays to them, or who uses them in a variety of other ways, benefits by his action. The fetish itself may be a material, or even an animal (cock, serpent, etc), or natural (river, tree, etc), or part of a dead body (skull, penis, tooth, hair, etc). The object may then be considered to embody a spirit who can act through it or be communicated with. In some cases the objects are held to acquire their powers from their association with some powerful person. They are then valued in proportion to the extent of the power, strength, qualities or saintliness of the person to whom they originally belonged, as well as of the love or respect in which he was held.
Incidence: The use of fetishes continues to be common in tribal societies, although the practice of wearing portions of the anatomy of a dead enemy or ancestor are no longer common. Relics of saints and holy men continue to be a prominent feature of most of the world's major religions, both in developing and industrialized countries. In many cases they are a focus for both pilgrimages and for tourism. Charms and talismans continue to be valued and sought after in most cultures.
Claim: The preservation of such remains in whole or in part for veneration, or as incentives to greater faithfulness and goodness, or as reminders of the example offered by the lives of their former owners, is a forcing of the instinct of veneration beyond its legitimate place. There is much that is barbaric in the dividing up into larger or smaller fragments of the mortal remains of a saint and disseminating them over a wide area even for purposes of veneration. The admitted uncertainty which is associated with many relics, the incidence of fraud in the case of many, the gross superstitions and abuses to which they have given rise, far outweigh any positive good which they may have done.
Counter Claim: Reverence for the remains of the dead or the treasuring of their more personal belongings is natural, instinctive and a worthy form of remembrance.
Problem Type: F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update 04.12.2017 – 06:33 CET