Friday, November 19, 2010

Thought on the gods

I have been musing (and praying) a good bit the last few days about the "ilu mug we made. Here are two sections of scripture that came to mind:

Isiah 44:12 The ironsmith fashions it and works it over the coals, shaping it with hammers, and forging it with his strong arm; he becomes hungry and his strength fails, he drinks no water and is faint. 13 The carpenter stretches a line, marks it out with a stylus, fashions it with planes, and marks it with a compass; he makes it in human form, with human beauty, to be set up in a shrine. 14 He cuts down cedars or chooses a holm tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it can be used as fuel. Part of it he takes and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Then he makes a god and worships it, makes it a carved image and bows down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he roasts meat, eats it and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, “Ah, I am warm, I can feel the fire!” 17 The rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, bows down to it and worships it; he prays to it and says, “Save me, for you are my god!”
Is. 44:18   They do not know, nor do they comprehend; for their eyes are shut, so that they cannot see, and their minds as well, so that they cannot understand. 19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals, I roasted meat and have eaten. Now shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded mind has led him astray, and he cannot save himself or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a fraud?—Isaiah 44:12-20 NRSV


Hab. 2:18    What use is an idol
once its maker has shaped it—
a cast image, a teacher of lies?
For its maker trusts in what has been made,
though the product is only an idol that cannot speak!
19 Alas for you who say to the wood, “Wake up!”
to silent stone, “Rouse yourself!”
Can it teach?
See, it is gold and silver plated,
and there is no breath in it at all.
Hab. 2:20    But the LORD is in his holy temple;
let all the earth keep silence before him!—Habakkuk 2:18-20 NRSV

<idle musing>
Isaiah and Habakkuk are having fun here, but are very serious at the same time. Socrates, the Greek philosopher, used to say that the gods corrupted the morals of the Greeks—he earned the death penalty for that one...

But, think about the scene in the mug. 'Ilu, the head god, gets drop-dead drunk; Yariḥu, the moon god, is so drunk he acts like a dog! These scenes seem to beg for mockery. But, instead, they set the stage for a hang-over cure! No wonder Isaiah says they are blind!

Before we wax eloquent about how much better we are, let's stop and think for a minute. It seems pretty obvious to me, and you can disagree if you wish, that the main god in the US is money. Right now, we need more of it to keep the economy running. So, the economic wizards are working their magic, trying to restart everything. And what are they doing? More of the same things that got us in this mess to begin with! (I know that is a simplification, but the simile works).

We still have our spells; we still have our wizards. But, the creator still reigns and calls us to faithfulness to him.
</idle musing>

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful! This was right on target. Before ever reading this, I said, to mom and D. "I get the thinking behind the stein...Mock the foolishness of, and stupidity of people who worship false and ridiculous things. My response to it was exactly that, "This is hilarious."

Then again, wisdom would say, "let the ancient foolishness remain buried in the graves of the foolish." I missed on it as bad as you did. Thank You Father that You speak through your daughters, for we sons would suffer greatly without them!