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Yesterday during his press conference describing strategy to get Americans and allies out of Afghanistan, President Biden said, “And thank God, so far, knock on wood, we’re in a different position.” Interesting juxtaposition of phrases.

Side-stepping partisan politics or a critique of the Afghanistan debacle, let’s focus on the phrases.

Pres Biden uses the superstitious “knock on wood” phrase a lot, including back into his vice presidency. Pres Trump used the phrase as well. But again, the point here is not politics.

When celebrities are complimented on their success they regularly say, “I was lucky.” Really? Are they saying they have no talent, did not work hard, made no good decisions, are subject only to the "fates"? Somehow, unlike the rest of us unlucky woebegones, they lucked out?

Maybe, but more likely this is their way of being modest and avoiding any reference to religion.

What makes Pres Biden’s comment so interesting is his combination—thank God, knock on wood. To cover the bases, acknowledge some sort of supreme being but, just in case, tap into mythology too.

This is American religious culture in a nutshell.


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