Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Graven Image

Isaiah 44:9-20, among other Bible passages, mocks the foolishness of people who build statues they call "gods" and imagine that the creation has the power to save its creator. While few of us today are tempted to literally bow before wooden images, we still worship idols of human making when we expect financial security, health and beauty, or our own careful plans for the future to solve all our problems.

My own prize false gods are called Completion and According to Plan. They assert themselves every time I grumble at an interruption, tense up at a Page Not Found message, turn frantic at the idea of scrapping a project, or rate a lunch meeting as "awful" because it failed to serve dessert. And these idols are particularly hard to get rid of because I can't burn them in the fire or throw them in the garbage--they're attitudes, without physical substance, solidly rooted in the heart.

Of course, all idolatry, even that which takes worldly form as a wooden statue, has its roots in the heart. And usually the first step in uprooting false gods is realizing how ridiculous they are.

My To Do list's an idol;
I graved it with my hand.
I set it in a sacred book
And put it on a stand.
I looked to it to save me
From smallest waste of time:
So much was written careless,
But all of it is mine.

My god demands obedience;
All tasks must be complete,
With no room for exceptions
Or technical defeat.
The phone may ring with Maydays,
Computer blow a fuse,
The house burn down around me--
My list brooks no excuse.

I scheduled every second;
I left no moment free.
I thought this thing my servant,
But now it's ruling me!

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