A good confession would cover any and all instances of idolatry. But I have not, nor do I know personally anyone who has, recently bowed to a statute of, say, Anubis…And if there are any good parties around a Golden Calf no one has seen fit to send me an Evite (not bitter, just saying…)

But there is still that sneaky suspicion (another way of saying the Holy Spirit in our hearts) that I may not be a clean and non-idolatrous as I think. But what to do?

Well thank God for Richard Beck and his in-depth series Slavery of Death. Now, on part 19 (I recommend you read all parts because the argument is complex) is brining me up to date with the thoughts of Stringfellow and Becker.

And here’s the list of what/who Stringfellow considers The Powers (as in the Principalities and Powers which we are fighting against and which Christ’s sacrifice came to free us from – see Romans 1): “all institutions, all ideologies, all images, all movements, all causes, all corporations, all bureaucracies, all traditions, all methods and routines, all conglomerates, all races, all nations, all idols.”

Sheesh, Stringfellow – can we say “scorched earth”? Wow. So, pretty much everything in society, as well as “all methods and routines”! That does not leave someone with much room to do much more than sit, perhaps sob a little.

But in case I feel I can find a loophole somewhere, he clarifies with examples his list: “the Pentagon or the Ford Motor Company or Harvard University or the Hudson Institute or Consolidated Edison or the Diners Club or the Olympics or the Methodist Church or the Teamsters Union are principalities.”

Frankly if it stopped there I would be ok. I have been saying that the Olympics opening extravaganza is a satanic mass for years. Everyone just thinks I am a crazy old codger. But is it really any surprise that the Chinese were able to put together the most amazing opening ceremony since the opening in Moscow?

But Stringfellow does not stop there, “So are capitalism, Maoism, humanism, Mormonism, astrology, the Puritan work ethic, science and scientism, white supremacy, patriotism, plus many, many more—sports, sex, any profession or discipline, technology, money, the family.”

Holy guacamole Batman! So, in short, everything! Well, in reading Beck, it is not quite everything. It is everything created, everything that dies, that ends, that passes away.

I need to confess that I am afraid of death, and that that fear guides the vast majority of my decisions. I look to death for guidance instead of looking for God’s guidance. Even the Rule of Benedict suggests that a monk should keep his death before him at all times. Hmm, should I keep Christ’s death before me at all times? Or, even better, to keep Christs death AND resurrection before me at all times?

But I don’t, because I am a slave to the fear of death. My death. And I give my time, treasure and talent to the very things which themselves are under death’s dominion.

What would life be like if I truly did not fear death?


About spaceloom

An urban monk, and an experienced spiritual director with a Masters in Psychology. Married with two children. Want to know me better? Read my thoughts.
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One Response to Confessions

  1. Tracy says:

    IF an idol is all that is ethemeral, then our physical bodies are an idol. From what I read of this guy’s idea of Idols, tho, I would guess he’s saying that it isnt FAMILY, or MONEY, or SCIENCE itself which can be an idol, but the incorrect LOVE of these things. Christians seek union with a type of love, which transcends the temperal, the transitory. Some idols have stronger pulls, and some have an insidious quality, because their love is sanctioned. (ie our love of family, and human community.) Money is needed, since it allows our creature comforts, our daily bread. That bread sustains the physical body, which also has a strong pull on us. People are drawn to beautiful things, but especially to human physical beauty. It creates the desire for physical union, and procreation. However the joy of physical union, can eclipse the love of Divine union. Confusion and darkness arises from idolizing the beauty of creation, and not the Creator. All the beauty of what God has created in the universe, is commanded to love and praise HIS power. However, the created world gets worshipped and idolized instead of God, and his Divine name. The natural order is inverted. We make idols of the beauty in the world surrounding us, and human beauty is the strongest idol of all. How many of humanity’s “idols” (money, power, intelligence, social statis, property, cars, an endless list) are really just about obtaining the most beautiful mate, ie, about obtaining sexual rewards? People certainly idolize sex. But empty sex is the thickest fog our spirits can fall into. The body is a reflection of God, and Christ indwells the human body. God’s grace that enters the physical body,(thanks be to the body and blood of Christ) is the mystery that leads to divine union. IF GOD is our idol, our only true idol, then our path is easy to God. Idols can block the path. Death is the great iconoclastic destroyer. Maybe if we just destroy our idols in THIS world, with God’s help, we wont have a hell of a time destroying our idols in the Next world. Maybe fear of death is the fear of God judging what our false IDOLS have been in this world, instead of GOD. If we are seduced and trapped by temperal, transitory things, we have false idols. However, if we are seduced by the beauty of holiness– a graceful love of the trinity— then no idol will distract us, or, so long as we keep the faith, not for long.

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