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Friday, November 30, 2012

The Unconditional in Religion and Politics

US Capitol Rotunda
What “gods” have people in our culture shaped for themselves? Why are people attracted to these false gods? With which ones do you struggle? How have you seen these false gods end up in oppressing those who make them? How do modern forms of idolatry help people ignore reality? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1021).

It seems to me the last question—How do modern forms of idolatry help people ignore reality—is the root cause of idolatry in the first place.  The scene in Exodus where Moses brings reality to the Israelites in the form of the God inscribed Ten Commandments only to find them worshiping pathways to escapism in the golden calf is the archetypical instance of idolatry.

If asked to identify gods on the political left and right what would they be?  The fierce passions of politics arouse unforgiving hearts and venomous charges of blasphemy.  We ignore at our great peril the religious nature of man and the tendency to establish false gods. As with the golden calf, the gods of today are punctuated by excess.  A principal characteristic of god worship is that it is unconditional—there can be no perceived extremism in it.  This serves to cause infinite mischief including stark degrees of self-righteousness and cruelty.

Business capitalism (free markets and the sanctity of property) and the welfare state (an indulgent government and the expendability of property) form the two principal idols operative today—one the brainchild of the right, the other the brainchild of the left.  Reality always returns us to the fundamental question—what is truly helpful in the cultivation of abundant life within and among individuals and within the culture at large (abundant spiritually and materially for all)?  Surely, we should be eternally humbled by this question and should pray to the one true God for guidelines.  If not so humbled, then chances are good we are worshiping in elaborately crafted cathedrals to gods of our own devising.

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