A Few False Idols (an excerpt from my book “Essays on the Christian Worldview and Others Political, Literary, and Philosophical”)
We, all of us, as we go through our lives, often seek to uplift ourselves above the crowd, or, better put, seek to nail and found our self-confidence or personhood on some personal quality, accomplishment, or whatever we might want to pin our hopes on.
Many, if not most, pin their sense of self-importance, particularly in the pre sent age, on their material wealth or riches. They say to others, my superiority or greatness lies in my expensive car, perhaps a Lexus, BMW, or Mercedes, or my expensive vacation home in the Hamptons.
Others prefer to point to themselves on other bases. One group seeks to up lift themselves by saying, “I am smarter than other people or better educated.” They may point out to others that they have specialized knowledge in some certain field, and so they convince themselves they are in some way so much superior to the “lesser minds” that surround them.
A third group of folks adopt another way of raising themselves above the crowd. They will point to the fact that they are cultured and better educated, and by this method, they see others, and label them at least in their own minds, as ignorant or unlettered.
The fourth group, may say to the world, “I have greater physical strength.” Football players and athletes may seek to dominate their environment by this method.
For a fifth group, it may be their appearance or looks that enable them to say to themselves, “I am better than other people.” This is particularly prevalent in our present society. It makes victims, by this false standard, of both women and men.
The sixth group, and this is a particularly sad commentary, may claim that they are morally superior; perhaps they may say, “I have great religious faith,” and for these folks their greater virtue, morality, or faith, at least as they believe, separate them from the crowd.
These modes of pinning our hopes on some quality or accident attached to ourselves is, I think, fallacious. For the true believing Christian, God attaches value to all souls and all people, regardless of their economic status, culture, appearance, physical strength, intelligence, education, or, if you will, their faith.
In short, one might say, that God attaches greater value to one soul that comes to him, than all the culture, wealth, intellect, knowledge, beauty, or strength that others may have.
Let me end this little essay by saying that when I was a younger person I thought culture, education, and perhaps religious faith might be important, or at least I sought to make myself important by these methods. I now know this was a mistake. In fact, by making culture, education, or religious faith a kind of idol, I mistook their use and purpose. Culture, as a term, has no particular meaning beyond the fact that some people, if not many people, enjoy particular artistic products. The goal is the natural enjoyment of those works, rather than the use of them to separate and exclude others. By the same token, religious faith, or Christian belief, is not to be used as a method of barring and excluding the unsaved, but is rather a good thing in that it makes us better people and makes for a better life for us and the people around us.
It is a grievous and sad commentary that humanity uses the many goods that surround them as a method of dominance, exclusion, and the establishment of class demarcations. That is neither the use nor the purpose of the particular qualities and goods that I have just discussed. As usual, any good is corrupted by twisted human nature.