AMERICAN IDOLS

Steve Dresselhaus – November 2012

Being raised in a Roman Catholic country I grew accustomed to countless idols, images and other physical reminders of religion.  Roadside shrines and remote chapels adorn the countryside.   Crosses  seem to cap every hill.  The  religious names of businesses,  towns,  mountain peaks and mountain ranges,  rivers and ocean bays all give uninterrupted testimony of generation after generation  of religiosity. A world away,  in the remotest parts of Tibet,  ever present religiosity is much the same as it is in  Latin America, just different names;  names unpronounceable by a western tongue.

It is worth noting that in neither  of these world areas does the abundance of idols  seem to affect the daily lives of the people.  Unless there is a pressing urgent need,  the religious symbols simply sit there, ignored in  benign oblivion, occupying physical space but taking up little, if any,  space in the heart.    Until there is a want, a need or a crisis the sacred objects serve as little more than  gatherers of dust and bird droppings.  The everywhere present religious symbols are, to a large extent, simply ignored and do not impact life one way or another.

After traveling the world and seeing religious symbols everywhere and in every culture,  I have concluded that America is the most religious and most idolatrous nation on the planet.  We take our idols very seriously.  Our idols are reverently worshipped  every day and we believe they do impact our lives and proffer happiness and peace.  The idols we worship are found in our malls, our big box stores and at  our family shrine called Amazon.com.   It sometimes takes God years to answer a prayer.  Amazon.com “one click”  answers our prayers as quickly as we can tap the mouse button.   As we lovingly and worshipfully  gaze upon our conjoined idols of comfort and stuff we believe that  possessing  just one more thing will make us happy, that we would be satisfied.   We have come to believe that by owning more stuff we will live a life of comfort and ease, not realizing that we have done nothing more than rename our barns (Luke 12:18) with names like Savings, Abundance,  Belly Fat,  Equity, 401K and  social security.

Contrary to popular American beliefs, God did not bless America with abundance because of our Judeo-Christian heritage.  Why would an all wise and all-knowing  God reward us with the very thing that he knows will seduce us away from him?  Our God-obscuring wealth is more in keeping with the Romans 1 account of  God “giving them over” to the  sinful desires of their hearts.  Our worship of wealth and comfort is destroying relationships, destroying  our environment and is decimating the church as we know it far more effectively than a thousand moral failures.  Let us confess our idolatry and begin using our wealth to make this world a better place now and in the future.

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