Other Gods

July 9, 2010


I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 3you shall have no other gods before* me. 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 3you shall have no other gods before* me. 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them

Yes, that’s the first of the 10 commandments you see just above me, there.  I’ll admit it one I never put much emphasis on it for most of my life.  Like most people, I gave it a cursory once over and figured it didn’t apply to me.  I mean, what the hell, I believed in God, not some weird stuff like Zeus or Odin or any of those other old, pagan gods.  What I’m learning, though, is that not all gods are like Zeus or Odin; they don’t have mythical representations, proper names or formalized worship.  Sometimes, the gods we worship are really ordinary, mundane things like money, power or prestige.  Or, worse yet, they’re steeped in a pop culture so inane as to be ridiculous. 

In his book “American Gods”, Neil Gaiman tells the story of different kinds of gods, saying they exist because we believe they exist.  And, that the old gods, the ones like Odin or Zeus, are fading out because people don’t believe in them anymore, opting instead to believe in the new gods of technology, celebrity and the media.  Gaiman, author of the Sandman graphic novels (I can’t get over that term, a comic book is a novel), has written a cracker jack story in this, and may be on to something.  Not the “gods exist because we believe they do” line; the part about our obsessions elevating the stuff of modern life to the status of a deity.  I’m seeing it more and more, be it in the mania over where LeBron James will play basketball next year (the NBA, ugh.  Don’t get me started); people wetting their pants over the latest Steve Jobs offering or the fact that we can’t stand to be disconnected for more than a few minutes at a time.  I’m especially guilty of this last one: I take my computer with me almost everywhere I go.  If that’s not bad enough, when I have to share a computer with someone, I almost get the DT’s.  That’s just sad. 

So, how does this obsession with the latest hi-tech toys, celebrities and connectedness rise to the level of godhood?  Well, just think about for a minute: how often do we talk about God, as opposed to how often we discuss the latest pop tart’s melt-down, what movie we went to see or the iPhone 4G?  Granted, I don’t talk about the iPhone (I refuse to buy anything from those people), but I’ll be riveted if we’re talking about the other stuff.  It’s not all our fault, though.  We have the attention span of a gnat and we’re bombarded with a constant flow of crap from the media.  That this garbage worms its way into our consciousness is inevitable.  What we do with it after its there is where we drop the ball.  Jesus may have said we don’t belong to this world, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to be in this world. 

I wish I could stand up and rail against people getting so caught up in the day-to-day crap the world serves up.  I really do.  But, I’d be raking myself across the coals too, and I make it a practice to inflict as little pain on myself as possible.  The rest of the world does a fine job without me.  I also wish I had an answer to this problem.  But, I don’t.  You think it would be easy to give our Creator his due, but for some reason, it’s not.  I suppose it’s another one of those things we chalk up to a broken world and keep on going.  Or not…, that’s up to you.

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