Sunday, October 10, 2004

Murder, tonight, in the trailer park

The words to that Cowboy Junkies song keeps running through my head (the few words I know). Murder, suicide. Our cup is full of them when we turn on the TV or go to the movies. We're not as highly evolved as we'd like to believe; our gods still call for blood sacrifices. We challenge that assumption--we worship the One True God--be we Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. And those of us who claim no religion don't acknowledge any god demanding of us blood, blood, and more blood. Why then the murder and suicide count as high as it is? Pull back the thin veneer which hides who we really are. Which gods do we truly worship? I look around my temple. In the courtyard, where everyone can view my life, the God posters are ten feet high. Image management is perfect, truly my forte. Step back behind the curtain however, into the secret places, the holy of holies. Here I have spent much time setting up the objects of worship. They are polished, candles lit, oblations laid before them. I tell myself no one will ever see them but me. These are the gods I truly adore. There is Comfort, Happiness, Prosperity, Fame, Revenge, Desire, and of course, the Self, in all its splendor. I light candles before each one, never allowing myself to acknowledge that there is someone who sees. If I think he's looking, I simply blow out the candles and pretend there's nothing in the secret place but what should be there, God and I. But the gods we worship (for you have them in your secret place as well) do not remain content with half-hearted worship. They demand sacrifice--blood sacrifice. What will they require next? Your health? Your marriage? Your children? In the end, your life? They are relentless in the pursuit of atonement. What you've given is never enough. There must always be more. Why do you think God castigated the Jews for the gods erected in the holy of holies? Yes, because he's a jealous god and doesn't want to share us. But also because he knows the end result of our idolatry--prices too high for us to pay, more blood than we have to give. He makes a counter offer: choose me, he says. I have already made all the sacrifice that needs to be made. I gave my son. And that is enough. I share it with you freely, all I ask is that you remove the clutter of gods from the secret place and leave room for only two things--My presence and your companionship. Shall I take his offer? I have spent years building these altars and worshipping at them. They are as familiar to me as my own soul, because they are my soul. Knocking down the idols and cleaning out the secret place will take effort and time and energy. Is it worth it to me? Can I see the difference between the idols of murder and suicide and the God who would banish them from my heart? A God who was willing to die for me rather than asking me to die for him?

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