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…worshiping idols…

November 15, 2011

It is no secret that I occasionally visit the Belief Blog on CNN, and I will post there when something strikes me. Today, as I review recent articles there, I am struck by an idea that unsettles me.

Ever since I walked away from the Christian faith, I’ve been bothered by the word “worship” when anyone tries to use it to define my relationship with any deity. I do not see my relationship to any god that way. Of course, my understanding of the gods and Divinity in general is currently a little murky, but clarity is something I am working toward.

So when I am told that I “worship” false gods or idols or what have you, it gives me pause, not because I am convicted in my heart of my “sin” but because the word itself is problematic for me.

So today, as I’m reading articles comparing the Penn state scandal to the Catholic Church scandals I find myself slowly realizing something. In both of these cases we see people in positions of power, people who others idolize. Worship.

It occurs to me as I ponder this that maybe I’m starting to see why “worship” is so troublesome for me.

It implies a sort of blind devotion that I never want to fall into ever again. In order to worship something, one must submit themselves without question, one must put that something up so high that the flaws and disparities are no longer visible, must close their eyes to any conflicting view and cease to live their own lives.

This is what I see in the blind devotion to football that would overlook and dismiss the fact that children were being preyed upon by a man with power and position. This is what I see in the blind devotion to a church that would overlook and actively cover up the fact that children were being preyed upon by multiple men with power and position.

Yes, in both cases there were people who knew what was happening and COULD have stopped it from happening. Yes, in both cases I feel that those men are just as responsible for the terrible abuse as the men who actually committed the crimes.

HOWEVER, the blame just as fully and completely falls on those who worship their idols, whether that be the game or the faith, empowering the men that committed the crimes and the people in power over them who allowed it to continue.

Maybe it is human nature to subjugate ourselves to someone with charisma, to follow a leader even into dark and dangerous territory. It might explain many of the events in our history.

However, a man is only ever a man, a flawed, imperfect human being, no matter if he wears the collar of a priest or the Letterman’s jacket or the coach’s whistle….never worthy of the blind devotion some of seem to give them.

Eyes open, people. In fact, we need to open up all of our senses and pay attention. Develop some instincts. In every single case where a child gets abused there is at least one person who could have stopped it. Someone saw something that didn’t sit right. Heard something that sounded wrong. Felt uneasy. But we’re afraid to speak up. Afraid to investigate. We don’t want to know.

We prefer our idols. They make us feel good. We can curl up in front of them and suck on our thumbs and be told that everything is okay.

It is not okay. It is time that we start recognizing that. It is time to take a good long look at the the things we have been holding on to, at the people that we idolize. I’m not saying that every time an adult spends time with a child that he or she should be subjected to suspicion, or that we should scream “pedophile” at every adult who waves at a child.

However, it is time we stop ignoring the signs. It is time we open our eyes and ears and observe. It is time we take action. And it is high time we stop worshiping anything or anyone.

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