A couple of days ago, a friend of mine posted an article on the Facebook titled “Time to Tear Down America’s Idol” by Mario Diaz. The writer was upset about the recent NCAA decision to pull various events out of North Carolina because of the Bathroom law there. He was also upset over the NFL commissioner being supportive of the free speech of the players who did not want to stand for the national anthem.
He said in part, “They know we will continue to support their exploitation of us. Where else will we go on Sundays? No, our god is not there. Its at the stadium.” Then he finishes with this: “We can all expect it to get much worse until we decide to finally tear down these idols.”
I have to agree. In the football-soaked state of Alabama, most citizens are either a fan of the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa or Auburn University. Both fan bases are rabid and not opposed to rough belligerence and limited violence. They will spend fortunes to buy clothing, furniture, and trinkets in support of their preferred team. I am an Alumni of one of the schools and the largest item with the team’s name that I own is my diploma. I have also never been in my school’s stadium. I am in the minority.
But we are all guilty of making lesser things into little gods in our own lives. I am going to examine a few of my own idols. Some of these have been discarded, others still not.
1. I am Car Crazy. Not like Barry Maguire, but bad enough. I think about them a lot and always have. I have a particular taste for the obscure and weird. But I also like the sporty and elegant. Ferraris, Jaguars, Fiats, Morettis and Saabs – I like them all. But there was a time when I was obsessive and I believe Jesus wanted me to step away from the fandom. I am better than I was, and I’d say I don’t idolize them anymore.
2. Guitars – wow, I can barely play, but I have a decent collection. I just like pretty guitars and I cannot lie. Partial to Fenders, but also Hofners and Epiphones, Sigmas and Gibsons. I have too many, but each one is a different character and just makes me feel good to play them. Not sure, but it could be an idol.
3. Books. I have lots of books and I buy lots of books. I read … some books. I have a stack of books which are on my reading list that is 4 feet tall. Amazon loves me. I like learning new things, but I wonder if I have made an idol of it at times.
So far, so good. No one is offended yet. Just wait.
4. The American Flag. How in the world can this be an idol? I mean, we put it in a special place of honor, we pledge allegiance to it, we even have ceremonies about how to treat it. Oh man we love our flags. The flag is supposed to be a symbol of what is good about the United States. It is supposed to be a celebration of the ideals of Liberty and Freedom that we once espoused in this country, even if we didn’t live up to those ideals because of the legacy of slavery and prejudice. At our core we had them.
I am not convinced that the people of this country still hold those beliefs. Heck, I don’t think most people even understand what liberty and freedom even are. So to venerate an object, made by human hands instead of the liberty and freedom that it is supposed to represent? No, I will not idolize it. And I will not repost it on my Facebook wall.
5. War. Now come on, we all love some killing! Especially on the big screen. We love to see Clint Eastwood ask if the punk feels lucky. I mean, have you seen The Expendables? There are 20-30 action heroes in that thing. Yeah, stuff a couple of Aircraft Carriers in some Dictator’s posterior and we go nuts! Daisy Cutter? Hell yeah! Smart bombs, Drones, Jeeps and Humvees. And collateral damage and killing enemy combatants – all very much okay. You know Obama killed about 200 enemy combatants in Syria a couple of months ago – every single one of them were bad guys. Amiright? Oh, and the wedding processional in Afghanistan a few years ago: Oops. Doctors without Borders hospitals…yeah, about that…
You know, for those of us who are Christians, I’m sure Jesus didn’t mean all that love your neighbor stuff. And I’m sure he wasn’t serious when he said turn the other cheek. He said help the poor, but he didn’t mean we can’t bomb them, right?
Hey, look I was all for most of the wars in my lifetime and I was a symptom of the problem in the US: an eagerness to believe what our leaders tell us about who is the enemy. Our leaders say there is an enemy that wants to kill us and we jump up and start singing Toby Keith songs.
The early Christians would not kill, not even in self-defense. They did not join the military, either. Soldiers could some to the Church but had to renounce killing. This was almost always a guarantee that they would be killed, since they could no longer perform their military duties and had rejected the Emperor as god. There is precious little in the New Testament about how Jesus viewed the military, but the early Christians certainly thought he meant for them to not kill.
You cannot serve both God and Mars.
6. The US Military.
Today, US military personnel are respected, lionized and idolized by the American people at a completely unhealthy and unrealistic level. To the country’s leadership, they are mere pawns in the grand games of worldwide chess being played. A relative of a friend was a young man killed in Afghanistan, giving his life for what he thought was a just cause. It was after his funeral that I really began thinking hard about these wars. It is to my shame that it took his death to awaken me.
This trend of Military worship began in the Progressive era and was really inflamed during World War 1. Progressive clergy thought that “the war was the means God put at the disposal of his faithful followers to help rid the world of evil.” They idealized the war and the soldiers that fought in it. They idealized Socialism and Abortion and Euthanasia and the racism that supported experimentation at Tuskegee. After all, the Progressives thought that through their vision of Social Justice, the world would be rid of the poor and the downtrodden not by raising them up, but by extermination. American society still holds hellish views on some of these issues.
Let us abandon the Blasphemous phrase: “Only two defining forces have ever died for you: Jesus Christ and the American Soldier.” Many martyrs for the kingdom of God have died to advance it, and some may have been soldiers, but do not compare acts in war as being the equivalent of the martyrdom of the saints. And certainly not to Jesus on the cross, which stands alone in human history.
There are many other idols that I need to rid myself of. Maybe we can look at some of those later. Regrettably, I know that some of you will be offended by my views and will probably un-friend me on Facebook, perhaps even in real life. Please know that my intent is not to offend, but to end the false gods which separates us from God.
Time to Tear Down America’s Idol
The War for Righteousness
Caesar and the Lamb
Christianity and War
We Who Dared Say No to War