Monday, September 3, 2012

Idolatry in my heart

This post was inspired by this lovely and thoughtful one on animism:

Although the writer there and I agree on almost every detail, he thinks of himself as a polytheist, and I think of myself as a hard-monotheist. Why?

"There is no theological reason to make a distinction of kind between the honor we pay to the Gods that that we pay to the Landwights or the Dead. In fact there is no clear boundary between those poetic categories. One tribe’s ancestor may be another’s more distant god, etc."

I couldn't possibly agree more. For me, it's not the type of entity that determines whether or not a specific act is idolatrous. Rather, it's your relationship to the object of worship. Do you surrender yourself to it, let it's will supplant your own? If it asked you to kill your son on the altar in the high places, would you? That's what worship means, and I think it's always wrong. Anything you can possibly avoid worshiping is unworthy of your worship.

I've had the experience of being in a presence so overwhelming divine that I had no choice but to worship. It is clear to me, in those times, that the thing...although I'm hesitant to even describe it as a noun, but I don't know how else to construct this sentence...

I'm confident that divinity at that level is all one, interconnected, transcendent thing, and that's why I'm a monotheist. I can't worship anything but that.

On the other hand, I'm happy to honor, respect, bargain with, and have all sorts of intercourse with all kinds of other spirits, angels, daimons, gods, whatever we want to call them. But my worship is reserved for that eternal One, Who moment by moment names the universe into being.