We went to see Disney’s version of A Christmas Carol yesterday. It was a pretty good take on Charles Dickens’ classic story. I realized in watching it that a story becomes a classic because there is great truth in it and that truth stands the test of time. It was the lesson of idolatry that popped out to me first. I have had this subject in the forefront of my mind for quite a while now and seeing the movie helped me put my thoughts together to reflect on it.
The first ghost that visits Scrooge is Marley, his former business partner. When Marley arrives he is covered in chains and those chains are attached to heavy trunks that he is pulling around. He tells Scrooge, in essence, that during his lifetime he put his emphasis on business and making money. He is there, with the help of three other ghosts, to show Scrooge that he is doing the same and needs to change his ways. When Marley leaves, Scrooge walks to the window and sees many other spirits all with their various attachments. This is the beginning of the click that will lead Scrooge away from a lifetime of worshiping money, security, and wealth.
As I have explored religion and learned about eastern traditions, I have given thought to the idea of “false Gods.” There is only one God and the first commandment says that we shouldn’t put any Gods before the one. At some point along my path I read a book that touched on this subject. You see I had always viewed “false Gods” from a religious perspective, thinking only in terms of prophets or teachings that would lead people astray. In the book I read “false Gods” was given a broader and more realistic definition. I learned and accepted that anything that gets more of your attention and energy then God is an idol.
I began to think of the many things I have worshiped over my lifetime, the things I have put before God at various stages of my journey. There has been safety, security, sickness, health, friends, family, my wardrobe, getting good grades, my weight, parties, my jobs, intimacy, motherhood, TV, food, money, status, reputation, acceptance, and the list could go on and on.
I was at a workshop a while back and we were put into small groups to do an activity that inevitably turned into discussing our challenges. Someone in my group said they were struggling with idolatry. I took the bait on that one and started talking about the things I consider idols that many others don’t pay mind to. She said for her the “false God” had become her church. She was a minister. Over the last few years she had a major role in building a new church. It was growing by leaps and bounds and she found that she was constantly working towards this growth. She felt she was not as connected with God, that the lines between God and church were getting blurry. She was making a conscious decision to reconnect with God and follow the path laid before her (even if it meant leaving behind the empire that was being built around her).
This is always a goal for me. It is the true meaning of the term dying daily. To die daily is to take a moment to acknowledge and release (ah, yes easier said then done, I know) your attachments. I have to constantly remind myself to let go and at the very least I am in a place where I can witness myself holding onto things. Eventually my moment will come and hopefully it will not involve ghosts and chains….