Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why Everything (Stinks)

One of the more awkward subjects (for me, at least) to bring up in Church is the Old Testament subject of idolatry. It's just weird. You melt all your collective jewelry together in the shape of an animal, and then you bow & pray to it? It makes the people of the days of yore sound like morons.

And so the first two of the Ten Commandments are designed to offset this apparently considerable temptation:

#1 - You shall have no other gods before me
#2 - Do not fashion any graven image & bow down or worship it

...which, the phrasing of the first commandment sort of begs the question: ARE there any actual other gods, or deities, that are out there to be worshiped? Well, 1st Cor. 8:4-7 would seem to answer a strong "No" when Paul says, "We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one."

But even he confesses a few sentences later, "But not everyone knows this." Aha! And a few chapters later, in 1st Cor. 10:19-20, Paul teaches that sacrifices to idols are received by demons. Which seems to indicate that they are essentially puppet-masters. And we of course know, from Paul in Eph. 6:10-12, that our struggle is against the forces of that world.

So it would seem that the answer to my question is "Yes" and "No." No in that there is no God but Jehovah. But yes in that there are other powers that prey on the ignorance of humans apart from Christ. And in their ignorance about the truth of the one God -- whether they realize it or not -- people surrender to the realm of demonic-pupeteered idols. And as they pay homage to these spirits, they allow them to exercise power over their lives. And, in doing so, such realities gain for those who acknowledge them actual, objective existence.

Have I lost you yet? I hope not.

All of that serves as a preface for this:

We have a whole industry of magazines & networks that glorify beautiful, young, dumb people in trendy places. Paris Hilton. MTV reality stars. Vampire movie stars. Disney's latest pre-pubescent cash cows. The whole lot of them. They're all part of the deification of youth.

And we don't stop there. We idolize athletes. What is more youthful than young phenoms achieving great athletic feats? We idolize the brands they market that make us feel young with them. It's a whole system integrated into our society.

The part that gets me is how people mutilate their bodies. All to appeal to the expectations of the great god of youth.

So maybe those people in the Old Testament weren't morons at all. Maybe we're even more blockheaded. And maybe the reason everything sucks -- as Craig Ferguson put it -- is because we've been duped into worshipping the wrong god.


David Johnson said...

I love Craig Ferguson. He's an unheralded comedic genius. I think I've posted this clip twice on Facebook already. And it still gets to me---the sheer insightfulness of it!

I think the thing that Craig doesn't mention here (and probably wouldn't) that I've noticed gaining in our world is the concept of "reason" or "rationality". I know, I know, we're supposed to live in a "post-modern" age, when overarching narratives are viewed with innate suspicion. But the truth is that in our world "Reason" has pretty much attained "godhood" status for many people. This has resulted in the rise of the sort of vociferous atheism that has fueled the popularity of books by Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens over the last few years. These people apparently do not understand that life in a godless universe is utterly meaningless---and that, therefore, reason itself and any understanding of reality which hopes to be true are also meaningless.

Emily :) said...

Great post! It does seem crazy some of the gods they worshipped in the OT, but really we are guilty of creating our own gods out of so many things. I think our worship of youth is very overlooked. Thanks for bringing it out.

Jonathan Storment said...

This is my favorite post of your Philip, and I've read some good ones. Thanks for sharing this brother!