The Year Of The Cow

The Year of the OxDepending on who you consult, 2009 is the year of Brown or Earth Cow, and it can be either a very good year or turn out just the opposite. It seems Japanese punters are very superstitious about the cow, brown or otherwise.

Far from a bull run, they are expecting the cow to stumble this year. A cow or ox year, has in the past been disastrous for Japanese stocks. At the back of the global recession, you don’t need rocket science to know that Japanese stocks won’t do well this year. Neither would our Bursa Malaysia.

The cow is the worst among all the animal zodiac years, it seems. I hope my younger brother won’t get angry with me for saying this because he is a real cow or ox rather born in 1949.

In 1973, a cow year, the Nikkei plummeted 17.3 percent for the year by a global oil crisis that hit Japan. The next round of the 12-year cycle, in 1985, though stocks gained 13.6 percent for the year, it was their poorest performance in the last half of the 1980s. In 1997, Yamaichi Securities, one of Japan’s venerable “Big Four” securities firms, collapsed as the Asian financial crisis deepened. The Nikkei tumbled 21.2 percent.

Superstitions aside, there’s some economic sense to these zodiac cycles as business cylces also oscillates in cycles, usually seven good years will be followed by another seven bad ones before another upswing cycle.

Interestingly, the Jews trace these seven-year economic cycles all the way back to ancient Egypt. Their prophet Moses recorded it in their narrative called “Bereshith” which is part of a larger corpus of their Holy Scriptures called the Torah or what the Muslims know as Taurat in their Qur’an. The Christians retained this in their Old Testament portion of their Bible as the book of Genesis.

As the story goes, old Pharoah had a dream one night that troubled him because all his magicians and geomancers or feng-shui-loh had no clue as to what it meant. Someone’s head would have to roll unless a solution was found quick. Fortunately, they managed to locate just the right guy who could come up with the dream works, Joseph or Yusuf as the Arabs called him. Now, Joseph has been thrown into prison on a false charge of trying to seduce the wife of his boss, who was a high palace official. So Jospeh was freshened up and brought to Pharaoh:

So Pharaoh told Joseph his dream. “In my dream,” he said, “I was standing on the bank of the Nile River, and I saw seven fat, healthy cows come up out of the river and begin grazing in the marsh grass. But then I saw seven sick-looking cows, scrawny and thin, come up after them. I’ve never seen such sorry-looking animals in all the land of Egypt. These thin, scrawny cows ate the seven fat cows. But afterward you wouldn’t have known it, for they were still as thin and scrawny as before! Then I woke up.

“Then I fell asleep again, and I had another dream. This time I saw seven heads of grain, full and beautiful, growing on a single stalk. Then seven more heads of grain appeared, but these were blighted, shriveled, and withered by the east wind. And the shriveled heads swallowed the seven healthy heads. I told these dreams to the magicians, but no one could tell me what they mean.”

Joseph responded, “Both of Pharaoh’s dreams mean the same thing. God is telling Pharaoh in advance what he is about to do. The seven healthy cows and the seven healthy heads of grain both represent seven years of prosperity. The seven thin, scrawny cows that came up later and the seven thin heads of grain, withered by the east wind, represent seven years of famine.

“This will happen just as I have described it, for God has revealed to Pharaoh in advance what he is about to do. The next seven years will be a period of great prosperity throughout the land of Egypt. But afterward there will be seven years of famine so great that all the prosperity will be forgotten in Egypt. Famine will destroy the land. (The Holy Bible, Genesis chapter 41 verses 17-30).

Joseph then advised Pharaoh to set up a national economic recovery council to contain the impending financial contangion that was expected in seven years’ time. Far from resorting to Keynesian economics and short term pump priming prescriptions like what the International Monetary Fund is wont to do, Joseph asked Pharaoh to put aside one fifth of Egypt’s annual crop production as savings.

In terms of modern fiscal policy, this amounts to a 20 percent national savings rate. Compounded over seven years, this will work out to a national surplus so big that it will not only finance the downturn over the next seven years but will also leave plenty in Pharaoh’s coffers for Egypt to continue to be the economic super power of the then known world.

Needless to say, Joseph got himself a new job with all the perks like club membership to the Pyramids and BMW chariots thrown in. In fact, his position was only next to Pharaoh’s in all Egypt. The old man even gave his daugther’s hand to Joseph. Well that’s some fringe benefits indeed.

So it’s going to be a mad cow of a year for all of us. If you think this is a bull of a story, get ready for next year. Enters the Year of the Tiger. Grrrrrr!!!

2 Replies to “The Year Of The Cow”

  1. It is that time of the year again and the spotlight is on the Chinese fortune-tellers,soothsayers, feng-shui masters, etc call them what you like, and what they are telling us about our characters and the future in store for us.

    Frankly the Chinese Zodiac signology or even the Western kind is all hocus-pocus and generalizations of character based on twelve animals are as reliable as believing in the Moon Fairy. The Americans didnt find any rabbit on the moon by the way!

    The fact is people who are superstitious often hope against hope, live in fear and self-fulfilling prophecy, and enslave themselves to ideas that have no truth. And should something uncanny come true as sometimes happens,they will be hooked for life.

    Even before I became a Christian, as I child I used to point my finger at the moon only to be scolded by my elders,who warned that I could get my ears slit for doing that. To test the superstition I purposely pointed at the full moon but nothing happened so I told my mom what I did and did it in front of her again and again! The spell of irrational fear was broken that way.

    Its amazing how Chinese superstitions can keep so many in darkness and fear and even intelligent and rational people can fall under its spell.Why? Because such teachings often have a demonic source even as they are made up by people from ancient times.

    You only need to read the description of character under each zodiac sign and realise that we all have bits and pieces of each zodiac sign. When we begin to think “Ah yeah that’s true I am like that,” so can someone born under a different sign.

    And those who live by the horoscopes are wasting their time and opening themselves to great delusion. The paranormal experiences of those who dabble in the occult world often result in serious psychological and emotional disturbances, even demon possession.

    According to Asian Animal Zodiac ” “People born in the Year of the Ox appear indecisive, deliberate and slow-moving.”

    “Ox Year people are alert. Although they are not given to talking much, they can inspire confidence in others. They are very dextrous and can do almost anything with their hands. They’re stubborn and hate to fail in anything they’ve undertaken,” she says.

    “When opposed, they can be quite unpleasant. They are reserved in their emotions.”

    Well, that can apply to just about anyone.

    The Bible warns against belief in astrology and superstitions because they open people’s minds to demonic influences instead of determining the will of God through prayer, the study of his Word and fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

    Stay away from silly superstitions. The Bible warns us and there are many verses such as Deuteronomy 18:10.

    But identifying a year as the Chinese do by animal characters and saying that such and such a year is an ox or tiger year is the extent I would go in relating with our Chinese friends. When used for identification I don’t have a problem. It is no different from talking about the English days of the week eg Monday to Sunday which are based on Norse or Roman gods.

    For eg. Monday is dedicated to the Moon and by affiliation the moon deities as Sunday is for the Sun and sun worship, which in Western sun-deprived countries, gives new meaning to the term.

    Some Chinese Christians in throwing away the baby of their culture with the water of pagan beliefs have falsely become subject to a form of neo-superstition. They even shy away from animal images eg dragon (a make-believe creature formed from parts of other animals eg eyes of a camel, claws of an eagle, scales of a crocodile etc)

    As a result they are alienated from their own people and that is not the plan of God. We are children of the light and live by the light of God and the knowledge he gives us and are not to be like the non-believers who live by the light of their dark superstitions and stories man made up.

    For want of examples of high achievers for better or for worse, born in the year of the ox who are not definitely not ‘indecisive and slow-moving’ consider Barack Obama, Magaret Thatcher, Napoleon, Hitler and Malaysia’s own Dr Mahathir Mohammed.

    And the list of people include characters as varied as Jim Carrey the YES-man to Jimmy Choo, Malaysian celebrity shoe-man.

    Health, wealth and success come not from silly superstitions but obedience to God. Matthew 6:33 is our life-guide not the Chinese almanac or Zodiac guide. The Bible is our ever reliable resource not the hollow predictions of soothsayers whom God condemns.

    Every year is always a good year if we live in obedience to Christ. As Paul teaches and encourages us in his letters, we are like him to be content with plenty or little. And born in whatever year we all have the capablility to achieve things for God and make our lives count.

    As Luke says, “For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37.

    Every year is the Year of God who plans good for us not evil.

  2. thank u steve oh for reminding/drawing the line between the Biblical principles (regarding this area) and those of the world from ages past till today..for Christ-centred, Word-based, simple Godfearing folks which most of us are, the danger lies in tendency towards blending the stances and chances of the shifty and forever shifting world of our fallen humanity into the ways of God’s kingdom; if we are careless, we can lose our bearings in the light of the eternal truths that His Holy Spirit always is ready to teach us, if we learn how to quieten our bodies, minds souls and spirits in the hustle/bustle, noise and din, demands/pressures imposed upon us in the daily round.

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