Demons and Germs

Today, people are fearful of germs. Yesterday, people were fearful of demons and/or vengeful gods.

Yesterday, people would go to enormous lengths to propitiate the wrath of these spiritual beings, offering sacrifices and the like. Today, we make the modern sacrifice of spending ridiculous amounts of money on granite countertops and recessed sinks to avoid germs on our worktops. (My wife is a kitchen designer, and this is what nearly everyone is saying.)

It seems that we’re bound and determined to be inordinately fearful of invisible entities that the authorities of our day tell us might cause us pain…

6 responses to “Demons and Germs”

  1. Matt,

    I like this post a lot! The more things change, the more they stay the same!

    Before we had witch doctors and holy men to exorcise demons; now we have doctors and specialists to combat germs. Of course, we have a better handle on the whole cause and effect nexus of these things now, but the deep structures of our lives remain basically the same.

  2. WTM: Thanks for the comment. This was one of those “huh!” moments for me. Sure, I appreciate doctors as an advance over medicine men/women, but it’s still oh-so-similar!

  3. I once saw a commercial that advertised disposable cutting boards. the entire ad showed how scary the germs left on the old fashioned cutting boards are, and it had little children sticking their hands in raw meat juice, and how wonderful it is to simply throw away the cutting board after every use!
    This is copied from the SC Johnson website:
    “use Saran Disposable Cutting Sheets so you start off with a sanitary surface each time; and after preparing raw meats, you simply throw the germy mess”.
    Just throw it away! Disposable cleaning cloths! ‘high-tech’ disposable swiffers instead of a mop or broom! ….let’s just fill up the landfill sites as we win the war on germs!
    where are the environmental controls here?
    are companies actually allowed to get away with mass-production of these products?
    does anyone even care about the first two R’s?
    (you know, REDUCE your consumption levels, REUSE everything you can, and finally RECYCLE whatever is left over). naw, let’s just skip right ahead to recycle, and feel really good about ourselves.

  4. Interesting parallel…thanks for that. I am currently fascinated by studying the slow and eventual evolution of religions from bloody sacrifice to more philosophical sacrifices….fascinating…(to me, anyway)

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