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Black

Of Gods and Bobos

Christ is not only "mighty to save" [Isaiah 63:1] those who repent, but He is able to make men repent. He will carry those to heaven who believe; but He is, moreover, mighty to give men new hearts and to work faith in them. He is mighty to make the man who hates holiness love it, and to constrain the despiser of His name to bend the knee before Him. Nay, this is not all the meaning, for the divine power is equally seen in the after-work. The life of a believer is a series of miracles wrought by "the Mighty God." The bush burns, but is not consumed. He is mighty to keep His people holy after He has made them so, and to preserve them in his fear and love until he consummates their spiritual existence in heaven.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Morning and Evening (14 January, Morning: "Mighty to Save")


We just have too much. Really. I'm eavesdropping on a conversation at the next table about "getting in touch with our spirituality" that threatens to make my ears bleed. They're shopping for the self-improvement of their souls today, just as they looked for throw pillows at Crate & Barrel yesterday. It's an attitude born of affluent privilege, in my opinion, or at the very least, much easier to maintain in those conditions (I think it's marketed more broadly in our culture, though, and that's all the more sad).

The topic has shifted to skiing. Finding poor people who ski is a difficult task.

My other bit of evidence for my thesis that we have too much came from watching Wickedly Perfect last night. So disgusting. It's all about the worship of the affluent lifestyle, the "finer things." How much can I get, and how can I show it off? The "art" of the contestants has been directed toward this end. It's so very ugly.

I'm not sure why it bugs me so much. I mean, here I am sipping my latté and typing on my iBook, so it's not as if I can claim a radically different lifestyle. Some of it is upbringing—my father was a factory worker, so affluence was not only perpetually out of reach, it was also built on the sweat of people like my dad. Far more than that is the worship aspect of it. Jesus wasn't kidding around when He warned of the dangers of loving money (though we are savvy enough to couch it differently these days rather than admitting something so gauche!) and how no one can serve both God and Mammon. Eye of the needle indeed.

Of course it's possible to receive blessings with genuine thankfulness to God and generosity motivated by His mercy. Some do. I'm blessed to know some of them. But so many stop short by embracing a different form of this—a generalized sense of gratitude that may or may not be directed toward some Higher Power, and freeform philanthropy for an equally generalized Greater Good, or "causes I believe in." There is certainly some good even in this latter form, but ultimately, the image of God has turned to worship itself—gratitude and generosity are only tools to make me a better, more self-actualized person (whether I admit my motivation or not).

For my part, I gauge the difference between the two by the simple issue of authority. Who has it? Does God make the rules, set the terms, and call the shots, or do I? Is God changing me, or am I reimagining Him—usually in such a way that relaxes or dismisses any demands He may have on my life and emphasizes those things I cherish?

Who knows? Maybe the affluent wellness and spirituality gurus are on the right track. If so, please just let me rot in the ground after death. I'll put my hope in the Resurrection instead.

Comments

You know I like to read about God in general. You know I like to read about Mammon in general. A post about God and Mammon? It must be my lucky day.

I really appreciate your writing and your presence in my life. Both are a joy and a challenge.

Hugs,
Lauren
Ahem. A pleasant challenge.
Those are the maladies Francis Shaeffer named of our culture: personal peace and affluency. Heady stuff.
I agree. We're spoiled.
For my part, I gauge the difference between the two by the simple issue of authority. Who has it? Does God make the rules, set the terms, and call the shots, or do I? Is God changing me, or am I reimagining Him—usually in such a way that relaxes or dismisses any demands He may have on my life and emphasizes those things I cherish?

Amen. Most people's 'Higher Power' has no authority to change, challenge or make demands on them. Not even worthy of being called a deity.