The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016 - Habakkuk (3)

The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016
The Problem with Idols – Habakkuk (3)

“What use is an idol
once its maker has shaped it—
a cast image, a teacher of lies?
For its maker trusts in what has been made,
though the product is only an idol that cannot speak!
Alas for you who say to the wood, “Wake up!”
to silent stone, “Rouse yourself!”
Can it teach?
See, it is gold and silver plated,
and there is no breath in it at all.
But the Lord is in his holy temple;
let all the earth keep silence before him!”                                       (Habakkuk 2:18-20)
The inimitable and late-lamented David Foster Wallace glosses Habakkuk’s analysis with his own luminous insight.

“Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship—be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles—is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.” (This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life)

The prophet and the writer in their own voices give us an inestimable gift:  summary of the anatomy of idolatry.

          “Everybody worships.”

If we do not worship the true and living God “anything else you worship will eat you alive.”

          “The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.”

          Earlier we noted that idolatry is fundamentally I-dolatry. That leads me to add one further item to their summary.
 “Self-made people (I-dolaters) always worship their makers.”
          Chew on this today as a Lenten exercise.


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