I began reading a new book last evening and it didn’t take 4 paragraphs for my brain to kick into overdrive. The book is “A History of God” by Karen Armstrong. I can’t say much about the book as I’m literally only 3 pages in, but if the rest of the book is as good as the first page, it’s going to take a long time to get through it. What stopped me and forced me to sit down and write was the following:
“Anthropologists suggest that this God has become so distant and exalted that he has in effect been replaced by lesser spirits and more accessible gods. So too in ancient times, the high God was replaced by the more attractive gods of the pagan pantheons. It seems that creating gods is something that human being have always done. When one religious idea ceases to work for them, it is simply replaced”
It reminded me of Greek mythology, full of beautiful gods and goddesses, mighty and enviable. Yet inherently flawed. And then as a commercial came across the screen with Psy and Kim Kardashian (yes, I read while watching TV), it hit me. We aren’t moving toward a godless society, we’ve just found new gods.
Is celebrity is the new religion and YouTube our evangelistic series? Reality TV allows us to think we can all become the next Kardashian. We can ascend to the mountain where others will envy and worship us. X-Factor shows us the temple stadiums we can fill where people pay $50 to watch or listen to us. They will buy our books to memorize our words and think they understand us personally. They will bow down before our posters longing for a moment when they could be in our presence for even a moment. It all sounds too familiar to the religion we are trying to shrug off. But why?
How much more do we prefer to idolize and worship someone who we can see all their imperfections? We idolize them for their looks, wealth, and popularity. Then mock them for their failures. Does it make us feel better about ourselves? To have heroes whom we can say “I’m better than that”? If they can go bankrupt, get drunk, get arrested, get divorced, then my life isn’t so bad.
Is that why many are turned off by an infinitely perfect God and His son who resisted all temptation to save us?
A God so complex we can’t even fathom the questions worthy asking to understand Him?
We aren’t turning Atheistic or Secular, we’ve just found a new religion to baptize ourselves into.
Then Karen Armstrong references the “God-Shaped-Hole” so many people point to. We have our gods to worship, but do they fill that inner longing inside of us for something more? Do they love us unconditionally? Do they offer salvation? Do they provide us with peace and hope for a day when we truly will be kings and queens? How much more do we want that than anything that Simon Cowell can offer us?
It’s easy to want to feel better about who we are and our existence given the current state of the world. Wars, famine, rape, murder, depression, disease. You ask why. You call out to God and feel there’s no reply. At least President Obama has an automated message that says “Thank you for contacting me”. But has our longing for the tangible stopped us from even trying to connect with a God who’s intangible? Do we really, truly try to reach out to Him? To honestly listen to Him? To fawn over Him as the one thing we would give our lives for 10 minutes in His presence? Or are those emotions simply reserved for Justin Bieber?