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Break a Rock for Luck

It's the time of year when large groups of Bolivian Catholics participate in a ritual meant to bring good luck to their lives. Thousands of people gathered outside of the Bolivian capital of Paz recently to try to break apart rocks. The tradition comes from a legend that the Virgin Mary appeared to a shepherd girl to take rocks from a nearby river, which then turned into silver. The tradition says that if a rock is more easily split, one's wish will be fulfilled more quickly. "You can ask for a house, a car, all your wishes are fulfilled," said one particular believer named Ricardo. "I broke the rock with a second blow and in a third attempt. I have been able to buy a house and also a car."

We probably read this example of misguided tradition and fail to relate. After all, there are countless warnings in both the Old and New Testaments about blurring the lines of culture and sound doctrine—a practice called syncretism. Yet how similarly do we blur the lines between what our culture wants (flashiness, entertainment, pleasure) and what God demands (sacrifice, faithfulness, holiness)?


Elly Park, “Thousands of Bolivian Catholics break rocks to change fortunes,” Yahoo News (8-16-16)

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