Posts Tagged ‘idolatry’

St. Luke 12: 15

Intro: the quote below is from the Becomingminimalist website. These are scary stats in the light of God’s Word of Law and Promise:

Here are 21 surprising statistics about our clutter that help us understand how big of a problem our accumulation has actually become.

1. There are 300,000 items in the average American home (LA Times).

2. The average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size over the past 50 years (NPR).

3. And still, 1 out of every 10 Americans rent offsite storage—the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the past four decades. (New York Times Magazine).

4. While 25% of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park cars inside them and 32% only have room for one vehicle. (U.S. Department of Energy).

5. The United States has upward of 50,000 storage facilities, more than five times the number of Starbucks. Currently, there is 7.3 square feet of self storage space for every man, woman and child in the nation. Thus, it is physically possible that every American could stand—all at the same time—under the total canopy of self storage roofing (SSA).

6. British research found that the average 10-year-old owns 238 toys but plays with just 12 daily (The Telegraph).

7. 3.1% of the world’s children live in America, but they own 40% of the toys consumed globally (UCLA).

8. The average American woman owns 30 outfits—one for every day of the month. In 1930, that figure was nine (Forbes).

9. The average American family spends $1,700 on clothes annually (Forbes).

10. While the average American throws away 65 pounds of clothing per year (Huffington Post).

11. Nearly half of American households don’t save any money (Business Insider).

12. But our homes have more television sets than people. And those television sets are turned on for more than a third of the day—eight hours, 14 minutes (USA Today).

13. Some reports indicate we consume twice as many material goods today as we did 50 years ago (The Story of Stuff).

14. Currently, the 12 percent of the world’s population that lives in North America and Western Europe account for 60 percent of private consumption spending, while the one-third living in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only 3.2 percent (Worldwatch Institute).

15. Americans donate 1.9% of their income to charitable causes (NCCS/IRS). While 6 billion people worldwide live on less than $13,000/year (National Geographic).

16. Americans spend more on shoes, jewelry, and watches ($100 billion) than on higher education (Psychology Today).

17. Shopping malls outnumber high schools. And 93% of teenage girls rank shopping as their favorite pastime (Affluenza).

18. Women will spend more than eight years of their lives shopping (The Daily Mail).

19. Over the course of our lifetime, we will spend a total of 3,680 hours or 153 days searching for misplaced items.The research found we lose up to nine items every day—or 198,743 in a lifetime. Phones, keys, sunglasses, and paperwork top the list (The Daily Mail).

20. Americans spend $1.2 trillion annually on nonessential goods—in other words, items they do not need (The Wall Street Journal).

21. The $8 billion home organization industry has more than doubled in size since the early 2000’s—growing at a staggering rate of 10% each year (Uppercase, note: link no longer available).

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A few years ago the President said  that if we want to be 100% safe from terrorists, we must balance this safety with a forfeiture of some political liberties.  The problem is not only the forfeiture but the goal:  100% security.  It sounds good. It sounds right. Beloved in the Lord:  We cannot be 100% safe in this world.  Ask any parent watching over and caring for their children know that. “Helicopter parents” have done great damage to the recent generation trying to keep their children 100% safe.  We can do a lot for their safety but 100% will not be achieved.  But once that 100% security goal is accepted, then I/we will do anything to get there.  Darkness has a toehold.

Beloved in the Lord! The devil is the chief terrorist. We can be 100% safe in Jesus Christ from that terrorist the devil who accuses the brothers and sisters day and night (see Revelation 12:10;  1 Peter 5:7-9): “You can be really free in  this world by having everything you ever wanted” and it is never enough. Or the devil says,  “You are no good, you are not a good Christian”.  “Tell me something, I don’t know, foul devil, but I have a Lord, His Name is Jesus Christ, He fights by our side with weapons of the Spirit, for the right hand and for the left  (See 2 Corinthians 6:7).  To Him I confess, to Him I lay down my sin, Who has come to me a lost and condemned creature.” The devil also says, just give up a little bit of your freedom, then you will be safe.  The devil does not want a”little bit of your freedom”! Jesus gives us all His freedom by His grace alone, through faith alone.  We flee for refuge to Thy infinite mercy. All sinners are refugees in the Lord. Beloved in the Lord, don’t look to your flesh, but walk in the Holy Spirit as you are baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Let us pray…O God, You have prepared for those who love You such good things as surpass our understanding.  Cast out all sins and evil desires from us, and pour into our hearts your Holy Spirit to guide us into all blessedness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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The other evening I watched a special on the Pharaoh, Tutankhamun, the “boy king”.  His name means “living image of Amun”.  Amun was one of the Egyptian gods.  King Tut’s father, Akhetaten introduced a new religion:  the worship of a sun god, Aten. He named his son Tutankhaten:  “living image of Aten”.  King Tut’s father even changed the center of religion from it’s ancient site, Thebes(present day Luxor ) to a new city and center of religion, Amarna up the Nile, which Akhetaten built.  It lasted as long as King Tut’s father Akhetaten was alive.  The priests of the traditional idols did not like the move, so when Akhetaten died, his son King Tut moved back to Luxor and the traditional gods and King Tut changed his name to the one history knows him.  

In Jeremiah 2: 11 we read,

Has a nation changed its gods,
    even though they are no gods?
But my people have changed their glory
    for that which does not profit.

Jeremiah is amazed that Israel had forsaken the Lord while the pagan idolaters would never throw over their false gods, nor think to do so!  Why?  Looking for a proof for the one true God is tricky business but I think the verse above points to a type of verification.  Man, apart from the one true God, will persist in their falsehood because of sheer pride.  Even when one nation, Egypt did change their gods, it was only by force of Pharoah and they quickly went back to their idols.The reason Israel (and us!) leave the one true God is our original sinful tendency to spurn the one who truly loves us and then commit adulteries.  This is the Lord put the words “adultery” and “whore”, as the only description possible, into His Word through the prophets to accurately describe Israel. We only leave the One who actually loves as He set His heart upon Israel and the whole world.  Israel could only and ever leave, change their glory, because the Lord is trueand truth and loves His people.  We crave our idols.  Unredeemed man insists on his idols because finally they are made in our own image:  all of fleshly  lusts and desires and aspirations writ large. For instance, Zeus, or Jupiter was constantly having affairs with humans as humans do. The Lord does not!  My opinion  of Roman and Greek mythology that it is nothing more than a divine soap opera writ large, but once hooked…it is like looking in the mirror or the image of lusts today:  the selfie. Like Narcissus we look at our image till we fall and drown. Old Adam does not want to overthrow himself!  The Lord does and has, as He did to Israel, as foretold by Jeremiah and the prophets.  Then He  gives us forgiveness in the only perfect image of Himself:  Jesus Christ. No nation has ever changed it’s gods, until the one true God comes into the picture. I do not know if this constitutes, “proof”, yet it does point us to the right direction, that is, away from our selves. This again proves our sin and maybe even show us again, we can not imagine any god who would actually love us enough to say No so we can know His forgiveness. The closest natural man has to the one true God are true fathers and mothers. The gods, that is the idols, love only to possess and control and brutally enslave, as man can and has. The Lord loves to set the captive free as He did Israel in Egypt and now the whole enslaved world through Christ that we believe the good news of our freedom.

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The Oscars: The idolatry of Americans watching their idols win actual idols.

-Pastor Thomas Messer, via Facebook

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I am not doing well weathering the weather obsession.  By this mean, I don’t mean people who enjoy meteorology.  I mean the endless lead stories on the weather.  For the past two weeks, every opening story on The Today Show has basically been, “It’s Winter! It’s Snowing! It’s Really Cold in Chicago, New York, Buffalo!”  This is news?! I grew up in the Midwest, tell me something I don’t know, that is, tell me some actual news.  I think the brutality of the carnage in Syria is of a bit greater importance that any  “brutal” snowstorm that causes, God forbid, flight delays.  Our perspectives are so askew.  For what its worth, I have noticed this weather obsession for years.  Why?  Why are we so obsessed with the weather?

A heavy quote from The Revolt of the Masses by Spanish philosopher,  Prof. Joel Ortega y Gasset:

“…we live in a time when man believes himself fabulously capable of creation, but he does not know what to create. Lord of all things, he is not lord of himself.”

Isn’t that the truth? The second phrase of the last statement is part of the basic message of the Bible.  And so is the first half and  Ortega y Gasset might have stated that tongue in cheek.  We think we are “lord of all things” and this is why the weather just ticks us off:  we can’t control it.  This is our false belief system as we think we are the creator.   It galls the petty dictator, man that the weather gets the best of  him;  but for Christians, the Old Adam, who thinks he is “lord of all things”, that petty idol, has been gladly dethroned.

Cast every idol from its throne,
For God is God, and he alone:
To God all praise and glory!                                                                              (hymn #452, Lutheran Worship)

Yet, remember that dictators, even petty ones, thinking they are “lord of all things” are quite  capable of great horror and brutality. In the Lord we can sing and pray with the Psalmist, God is the Lord of all things, including the weather, including us that He bought with His blood:

Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and mist,
    stormy wind fulfilling his word! (Psalm 148: 7-8)

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Below this article is the video, “The Obsolete Man”, from The Twilight Zone by Rod Serling, first aired June 2, 1961.  I issue a partial spoiler alert but even giving away some of the dialogue does not lessen the impact of this short video.

This takes place in a dystopic future ruled by the State (always a capital “S”).  Romney Wordsworth is brought before the State because he is accused of being obsolete.  Why?  He’s a librarian and as the Chancellor says to Wordsworth and the court, 

“Since there are no more books, Mr.Wordsworth, there are no more libraries, and, of course, as it follows , there is very little call for the services of a librarian. Case in point: A minister. A minister would tell us that his function is that of preaching the word of God. And since it follows that since The State has proven that there is no God, that would make the function of a minister quite academic as well….”

To which Mr. Wordsworth replies,

There IS a God!!

(Crowd jeers in shock. The chancellor looks angry)

Chancellor: You are in error, Wordsworth. There is NO GOD! (To the crowd) The STATE HAS PROVEN THAT THERE IS NO GOD!!

Wordworth: You cannot erase God, with an edict!

The current government of the United States is in the first throes of doing the same.  It is not that the Word of God and ministers, books and librarians are actually obsolete, but the government is trying to make the word of God and ministers, if not at first obsolete, at least irrelevant.  Since the ’60s, the institutional church has craved “relevancy” like a beast, in it’s sermons, catechesis and worship services.  The secularists and progressives have no trouble with that. Is it any wonder that what was called the “mainline Protestant church bodies” (Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Methodists, United Church of Christ), now the most liberal, have become the “oldline”?  For instance, by lifting out of context quotes from  statements by the current Pope, the secularist establishment  made him “Person of the Year”, that is, he’s really on their side. The armies of darkness want to enlist anyone in the church who may even sound like they are teaching their false doctrines.

The real reason for the effort to marginalize truth is that they fear truth and the Truth, except what the controllers want as the ‘truth’ which is indefensible:  murder of children in the womb, the union of same sex couples, divorce on demand, ‘hooking-up’, drugs, the self as god.  The Truth made flesh and the truths of God’s law written into the words of all cultures absolutely terrifies the controllers because, well, because it is true as it is absolute, not relativistic.  It is not ‘all relative’ as they have been falsely catechizing in academia and the media for a generation now.  The word of encouragement is Mr. Wordsworth’ s statement: “You can not erase God with an edict”.  Luther knew this as well, when he penned “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”:

The Word they still shall let remain
Nor any thanks have for it;
He’s by our side upon the plain
With his good gifts and Spirit.
And take they our life,
Goods, fame, child, and wife,
Though these all be gone,
Our victory has been won;
The Kingdom ours remaineth.

Or as the Lutheran Book of Worship has the first lines of this stanza,”The Word shall ever remain, no thanks to foes who fear it.”  Foes do fear it. So the Apostle Paul’s encouragement to Timothy:

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering,bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!  (2 Timothy 2: 8-9;  emphasis my own)

The Word of God survived the State called the Roman Empire.  We are called to teach, preach, learn and live His Word and in His Word in this day. 

  At the end, the Chancellor himself becomes obsolete…but I won’t tell you how, watch the episode! I  said this was a partial spoiler alert. At the end Rod Serling said about the chancellor:

He was obsolete, but so is the State, the entity he worshiped. Any state, any entity, any ideology that fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of man, that state is obsolete. A case to be filed under “M” for mankind—in the Twilight Zone.

Yet, it is only the Lord who can truly file it under “M” for mankind, because He is the One who made mankind and redeemed mankind by becoming man, the Word of God made flesh. The state is no god.   

For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Psalm 96: 5

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I think one of the masterpieces of cartooning is the movie Fantasia (1940).  One of the great scenes is The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  I have a homework assignment for you!  Watch it below and then I have some reflections on it  as a parable of  our age…and you may have some reflections to add!

Reflection:  Poor Mickey hauling all that water!  I wonder why?  Does the sorcerer have a wicked thirst?  Is he washing a lot of clothes?  Does he use it in his spells? Does he like clean floors?  The sorcerer certainly is not baptizing.  Nevertheless, Mickey labors greatly.  He needs a labor-saving device.  So when the sorcerer after a hard day of conjuring up the demonic and the beatific (interesting in itself), he goes off to bed and a notion comes to Mickey’s head: take his master’s magic hat and then  make a broom come to life to do his work!  A technological marvel!  Don’t we imbue our inventions as almost magical!  I’m working on such right now and you are reading on it!  It will do the work!  It saves us time and money!  

Or more pointedly and frightening: technology saves.  This has become an article of our age’s false faith.  Mickey finds out when he wakes up that his spell, his technology has overtaken him and he’s drowning in it.  But note, what does Mickey dream about while he sleeps  the sleep of the self-complacent?  He is the “ruler of wind and wave” (Hymn #965, “God Bless Our Native Land”,  stanza 1, Lutheran Service Book).  He wants more of the same! Of course!  Mickey rules!  Mickey is God Almighty!  Isn’t that a humiliating thought: the Old Adam as Mickey Mouse ruling the universe!  But it’s not far off the mark that Adam and Eve is such a pitiful deity with clay feet, yet destructive.  Mickey dominates, but does not have dominion (See Genesis 1-3).   We think homo faber (tool man or literally, Man the Maker!)  is god-like but if homo faber forgets he is first homo adorans (worshiping man) worshiping only the one true God, there is hell to pay as Mickey realizes when he wakes up and is close to drowning.  Truly,

“And all man’s Babylons strive but to impart
The grandeurs of his Babylonian heart.” (Francis Thompson)

What is Mickey Mouse’s solution to the technological marvel run amuck?  Violence!  Ax murder the broom but this backfires as every wood splinter makes another broom (see Steven Spielberg’s “Gremlins”!)   Now the threat is the drowning all of Mickey Mouse’s  world.  

In the prayer of the day for the first Sunday in Advent, we pray that the Lord rescue us from the “threatening dangers of sin”, like the deluge of Mickey Mouse’s idolatry devouring him, us all and it has.  It’s the end of the world.  The Lord’s Word in His baptismal water does drown us to bring us forth dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (See Romans 6: 1ff and especiallyRomans 6:11) .  We can walk wet in His salvation day by day as He is born of Mary for us all.  Our tools can be just that, tools, our servants, not our masters, for we have only one Master.

We pray…

Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance;  for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

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In the News

From The Week, 8/5/11:

“Good week for: Decadence, after a Malaysian businessman bought the world’s most expensive yacht for $5 billion.  The 100-foot boat is plated in gold, and has bedrooms covered in platinum and a statue make from a T. Rex bone.  “This will never topped, ” said designer Stuart Hughes.

Yes, it will be topped.  Look at the over top monuments of the past the Pyramids of Giza and the Taj Mahal:  burial plots.  The Versailles, the Hermitage, the Biltmore, the tower in Dubai…the sun never sets on the British Empire because of it’s size.  It has.  But someone will always  top the last guy.

English poet, Francis Thompson (1859-1907) said it well:

And all man’s Babylons strive but to impart.                                          The grandeurs of his Babylonian heart. 

It was Erasmus who wrote that the heart is such a capacious thing that even 600 worlds can not fill it.  How many pairs of shoes satisfied Imelda Marcos?  Apparently not even 2700 pairs.  Yet, again another rock ‘star’ has fallen. But we stand in awe of such extravagance and we should be sorrowing for the grief of Lazarus at the gate.  Only the Lord in His Law can show us the delusional grandeur and emptiness of the heart apart from the Lord.  “Our hearts are restless, till they rest in Thee”–St. Augustine.  He heard the Word of the Cross and His forgiveness from that Cross.  Lord, let the light of Your Face enlighten our lives with the fullness of Your grace that alone can fill my hungering heart.  Amen.

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