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03 January 2014

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As a native of Simbu Province where sorcery/witchcraft related accusations and killings are prevalent I would like to share my experience that the issue of sorcery and witchcraft is something to do with people's beliefs.

For me I have seen on many occasions with my own eyes very innocent poor women being accused, intimidated and brutally tortured and some even being killed and I thought this is really a wilful murder of innocent lives.

For me most sickness and deaths may not be the direct result of sorcery or witchcraft practices. For me it is the interplay of people's psychological and emotional reactions that affect the normal functioning of the body thus leading to sickness and death.

It is simply the people's "belief" in sorcery/witchcraft that interplays with chronic human emotions such as fear (fright), anxiety, and anger etc that complicates the normal functioning of their bodies that they eventually end up in illnesses.

The strong 'belief'in sorcery/witchcraft exists in the minds of people and since it is very strong it often leads to detrimental effects like sickness and death which further leads to further accusations and killings of the accused sorcerers and witches.

Hence the question of how real the problem of sorcery/witchcraft is depends on how one believes in its powers and its activities.

Therefore, for me, as a native of this part of the world witchcraft/sorcery is real to those who believe in it.

Wonderful piece.

I will share my experience in a follow up article.

Thanks KJ, a pressing issue indeed.

Corney is right.

Sadly some Christians start to look for spirituality separate from the Holy Spirit. Sadly some actually do get in touch with other spirits and they may even think they are "in touch with God". But they are wrong.

If they invite this spirit to come into their lives and lead them, then the trouble starts - its called possession.

In many countries new to Christianity the people sometimes try to keep some of their old traditional religion as well and try to fit it into Christianity. This is probably going on in PNG today and the churches have to keep a watch out for it and put a stop to it.

I have also had experience of this with a group of Indonesians who have come to live in Australia. Incredible problems have arisen at times. PNG will have to cope with this sort of thing for many years to come.

Father - isn't rejecting a human agency for supernatural influence on nature, but accepting that God plays a role, just pushing the problem on one level to another?

People often believe that bad things happen for a reason (the US wackos have blamed 9/11, earthquakes etc. on homosexuality and abortion).

This is fundamentally a belief in magic, not science. Just like believing that carvings can be 'demonic'.

Christ was posed a similar issue with the people who died when the tower of Siloam collapsed. 'Did they die because they were evil?' he was asked.

'Get real' he replied (well almost). 'God's rain falls on the just and unjust alike - in other words he manages to piss off everyone. Accept it. And if you don't stop ripping off people you'll come to a nasty end too." - Luke 13 1-5, PK version.

Genuine Christians who have truly repented of their sins don't count of other spirits and little gods to protect and guide them. Their faith rests in the finished work of Jesus Christ only.

The mere presence of sorcery and witchcraft in this country is a telling reminder that many of our good church going folks and others need to truly repent and surrender their lives to the Lord.

Fr Zocca may claim that nowhere in the Bible does it allude to sickness being caused by another human being however most demons and devils were personified in order for the message to be understood by the people of those times.

The story about a man's demons being cast out into a herd of pigs clearly personifies a dialogue between Jesus and the 'legion' of devils that evidenced a human type quality and who were then, reportedly cast out into the pigs.

The pigs then conveniently jumped over a cliff and drowned themselves, or so we are are expected to accept, if one believes that everything written in the Bible is factual and truthful.

The more scientific knowledge and better educated we are now gives us a greater understanding (or should) about the natural world we live in. Superstitions and ancient beliefs should now be clearly seen for what they are: Attempts to explain the unknown by way of human imagination due to a lack of factual knowledge.

When a eminent 19th Century clergyman saw Charles Darwin he exclaimed : "There goes the most dangerous man in the world!" Clearly Darwin's theory of evolution had the power to undermine the religious teachings of the time.

Superstition and magic are still alive and well and being practiced by many people in the hope they can appease the spirit/spirits and so escape whatever fate has in store for them.

In Croatia recently we saw a good many people earnestly and fervently praying at an ancient gate of the city of Zagreb.

When we asked what they were praying about, our guide suggested that perhaps they hadn't done enough study and yet still wanted to pass their exams.

A great read on this topic is "Year of Wonders" by Geraldine Brooks - A novel of the plague - when the Great Plague reached a certain village in 1666. The year says it all! Ha!

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