Wednesday, January 23, 2008

american idolatry

just yesterday i stumbled across the following entry by melissa moore. i thought it was both appropriate & thought provoking in the face of heath ledger's death.

Today’s Treasure: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen” (Romans 1:25).

As I sit here and ponder the news as of late, my heart becomes heavily burdened. From Michael Jackson and Anna Nicole Smith to the latest media frenzy, the rich and famous don’t seem to be holding up too well. I wonder if there isn’t some common denominator between these troubled souls. How could those who have so much fame, talent, and not to mention enough money to purchase for them their every object of desire, be so self-destructive? I can’t help but think of the fates of those such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Kurt Cobain, whose status of fame may as well have been elevated to sainthood. And then it hits me, what if the common denominator is not solely their individual self-destructiveness, but what if it includes the destructiveness of American Idolatry?

It seems to me that idolizing a human being isn’t just unhealthy and destructive for the one doing the idolizing, but also for the one being idolized. If there is any truth in this notion, namely, that it simply is not healthy (or to use politically incorrect language, it is simply morally wrong) for a person to be worshipped and idolized, then the American population is partly to blame for the broken state and the troubled fate of so many bold and indeed talented souls. Can we not appreciate a person’s talent and beauty without obsessing over what clothes they have worn at the Oscars or what person they are dating this week as opposed to last week? Is any single person worthy of this excessive attention or infatuation?

In Romans 1, the apostle Paul condemns the human race for suppressing the truth of God; he says that we should have seen God’s invisible attributes through that which is displayed in the created world. He goes on to declare that we didn’t honor God, but exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man. We failed and continue to fail to rightly credit the Creator, and instead we worship and serve the creatures that he has created. When we gaze upon the beauty or marvel at the talent of another and we fail to recognize that it is God alone who is the author and the source, we are not only lying to ourselves but we are doing a great disservice to our fellow man.

To have the American masses track your every move, fall at your feet, and even scream and shed tears in your presence—knowing all the while that you yourself are subject to the same kind of sickness and eventual death as the common folk—may be flattering for a moment, but in the end it is merely isolating, oppressive, and repulsive. Our obsession with the rich and famous places them in an impossible position, for there is only one name under heaven that is meant to be adored and there is only one being who will not be destructed by our worship. There is only one who remains pure and holy despite His glorious, incomprehensible, and inevitable, yes, eternal fame!

God doesn’t have an emotional need for our worship. Believe me, he gets plenty of it! For even the angelic beings shouted as they watched him place the stars in the sky and even now as I, a small speck on this globe, push buttons on a key-board, the entire heavens and earth declare of his glory! It is He who measured the waters in the hollow of His hand. It is He who weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in a pair of scales. To whom then shall we liken God? Or what likeness shall we compare with Him? We Americans, like, the craftsmen of old, are guilty of seeking out and fashioning for ourselves meaningless idols—we create them, we gaze upon them, we place hope in them, and then we condemn them when they don’t deliver and meet our needs and expectations. At the end of the day, idolizing a person is as futile as worshipping a wooden statue, for both are corruptible and they shall both return to the dust. God alone is incorruptible, and not only does he alone deserve man’s worship but he is the only being who is not corrupted by man’s worship. He is the one who reduces powerful rulers to nothing and makes even the judges of the earth meaningless…truly, he merely blows on them and they wither.

So I, a Christian who is guilty of having spent hundreds of dollars on People magazines, join my voice with the prophet Isaiah, “who shall we liken God…who shall be his equal?” And I am revitalized by the answer to this rhetorical question: no one. Let us lift up our eyes on high and see who has created the stars…for He calls them by name and because of the greatness of His might and the strength of his power, not one of them is missing. (Isa. 40:26) Only after first recognizing the Creator’s masterful hand behind every facet of life should we appreciate and savor the talents and the beauty of another…and even then, let us tread carefully, for ours is a jealous God. So then, I dare us (indeed I dare myself) to stop pointing fingers and asking why many who have phenomenal God-given talents, or extraordinary and dumb-founding God-given beauty, are so often hitting rock bottom. Yes, let you and me stop pointing fingers and actually claim part of the responsibility for their downfall.


  1. So true. and a great reminder. Thanks for posting this!

  2. Amen! Thanks for the encouragement to sanctify Christ as Lord in my own heart. tyne

  3. Hi Andrea,
    Do remember Daryl and me from Austin? I came accross your blog through the blog-vine... linked from a friend of a friend. Anyway, it was neat to come accross you guys and fun to find out that you guys have twins now! You can see what going on with us at


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