Do you know what I discovered this week? We are a nation of idol worshipers, and the worship of one of those idols by one of the home owners in my gated community broke my heart last week.
I’ve made no bones about the fact that I live in an idyllic community—some would call it paradise—where the people have retired from all over the country. They’ve come from all walks of life, from all sorts of struggles, and they’ve worked really hard to afford the retirement they now enjoy with such abundance. I don’t know the exact breakdown, but I would take a wild guess that the racial make-up is 80% White, 20% African-American, Asian, Indian (as in East Asian), Hispanic, and other. For the most part, my co-paradisians are overly friendly when we pass each other on our daily walks or see each other at social events (“Good Morning, How you doin’? Haven’t seen you in a while, How’s your husband since the operation? Get rid of those moles in your yard, yet? Nice dog, Great weather we’re having, How about those Houston Astros?”). My co-retirees are extremely inclusive, intelligent, creative, and fun to chat with on any given day. Until one of them hoisted a Confederate flag. He claimed he didn’t do it to offend anyone; he did it in support of his heritage.
As a descendant of slaves, I replied: “Bullshit! Your heritage was my family’s bondage. Furthermore, your flag is a symbol of treason and an idolized piece of cloth that wrapped itself around slavery, rape, violence, and genocide with impunity.”
That was the bad news. The really, really good news is that our home owners association swiftly did the right thing—the righteous thing—and smacked down this “White Supremacy Idol” before it became a cancer and spread like wild fire decimating the common good in the community:
“The ___Home Owners Association is committed to an inclusive and diverse neighborhood, and to compliance with Fair Housing laws.
“The _______ Handbook prohibits ‘offensive and inflammatory’ flags…. The Confederate flag falls under both of these sections as it has been and is currently used by groups and people to intimidate, demean, harass and cause fear.
“Further, pursuant to the terms of the Fair Housing Act and under our duty as the _______Board of Directors, we cannot permit hostile environments to exist in our neighborhood, particularly when we have the authority to regulate the activity causing the hostility.
“… in furtherance of the common interests of our residents and the inclusivity and diversity of our community and to comply with our Governing Documents and Fair Housing laws… the Association will now formally prohibit the display of any Confederate flag within ________ which is visible from the exterior of any lot.”
…which was a good thing, because, for a fleeting moment, I thought I was gonna have to move, and ain’t nobody got time for that!
The neighborhood Confederate flag was appropriately and swiftly handled by my HOA and got me to thinking about what an incredible revolution we could have in America if everyone who believed in the universal creed, “Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you,” turned in their idols that were destructive to that Christ-like motto for the common good.
As I was meditating about it all, I fell asleep and dreamt that I was put in charge of a “Buy Back” program for the resistance for the Center for Idol Destruction. My job was to purchase any and all idols that were destroying the true spirit of the American ideals. I dreamt that the NRA leaders, along with gun manufacturers, turned in their Idol of the 2nd Amendment in exchange for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all American citizens. It wasn’t easy, but they did it for the children.
It was an emotional moment, and as we all hugged the bright-eyed kiddies gathered around us, the gun-rights people took up hammers and smashed the sacred cow that had become so idolatrous to them and so murderous to the rest of us.
While the champagne flowed, a group of men who looked like a sphinx on crack of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, Kevin Spacey, Mark Halperin, and President Trump lugged in their Sexual Assault Power Idol. They had worshiped it for years. It was almost too grotesque to behold, and the harassment sphinx looked as if it was changing its mind, until I approached it in my pink #METOO t-shirt with a legion of women behind me. The sexual assault sphinx smashed its idol for the sake of their mothers, daughters, sisters, fathers, brothers, sons, and friends.
As I sent the sexual assault sphinx to confession and a month-long lice and flea bath, a large contingency from the Evangelical and Catholic Conservative Christian world begrudgingly brought in their Idol of Political Power. This idol was not an easy one to wrestle out of the hands of its owners. It wasn’t until I showed them a mock-up of their carcasses in the afterlife on a fiery dung heap made out of their Christian values that they let go of their idol in the name of Jesus and smashed it into a million pieces. There was a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth. I made a note to keep an eye on this group because they seemed to be easily seduced, and I caught several of them trying to paste back the idol of political power with super glue when they thought I wasn’t looking.
While I was looking for the Idols of Lust of Money and Greed, a group dropped by the Center who represented the 30-something percenters (a.k.a. the die-hard Trump supporters). Most of them were from places like Johnstown, Pennsylvania. They never expected Trump to keep his promises, but they love him anyway because he is the spitting image of their fear and ignorance. They confessed that sometimes they wanted to destroy their Idols of Fear and Ignorance because they had become too burdensome to carry around, but letting go of their idols would mean they were wrong about so many things, and their pride just couldn’t admit to that—not after all they had lost. Their fear and ignorance—cloaked in their prejudices—were all they had left.
The idolaters liked that Trump was bashing the NFL players who were “taking the knee in protest,” and a couple residents of Johnstown admitted to the reporter Michael Kruse from Politico* that they’d changed the football acronym to: “Niggers for Life” just for spite. They were mad as hell that those NFLers had so much, and they had so little left as true, blue, White Americans—real Americans. Plus, no one could convince them that Obama was not the anti-Christ, because they had heard it in church after all, and no one could make them believe anything bad about Trump (no Russian collusion to see here, folks!) because it was all fake news anyway. They loved Trump for tweeting and saying all the hateful, divisive things they felt that had mushroomed in their hearts from watching Fox News 24/7 and living in a closed and dying community. Whether Trump ever kept a promise to them didn’t matter anymore; they would never abandon him. At least Trump was tormenting the people that they wished they could beat the shit out of, given half the chance.
Sad, to say, those idol worshipers couldn’t let go of their sacred cows, and they walked out of my dream. But I have hope that if they can’t let go of their idols today, maybe they’ll be able to do so tomorrow. Hope always springs eternal in my dreams.
ELEANOR’S SELAH (“AHA” MOMENT) ABOUT IDOLS
I am discovering that the Commonwealth of Virginia tore down some idols on Election night, too, and sent Donald Trump a very strong resistance message by defeating his confederate-statue-hugging-candidate of hate, anti-gun control, anti-immigration, and anti-healthcare choice for governor by declaring: “NOT IN MY STATE!” The voting results were what the Washington Post called “…nothing less than a stinging repudiation of Trump on the first anniversary of his election.” In fact, that rallying cry was heard across the land in NYC, in New Jersey, in Maine, in Georgia, in North Carolina, in New Hampshire, in Pennsylvania, in Washington State, just to name a few. Charlotte Alter, a national correspondent for Time had the perfect tweet:
“A trans woman beat the guy who introduced the bathroom bill. A gun victim’s boyfriend beat a delegate with an “A” grade from the NRA. A civil rights lawyer who sued the police department just became the top prosecutor in Philadelphia. Something’s happening here, folks.”
You bet your sweet ass something is happening: good folks of all religious creeds, ethnicities, races, economic backgrounds, and gender affiliations are taking back their country from the idol worshipers of bigotry, hatred, abuse, and assault—community by community, city by city, state by state, and smashing the idols to smithereens until we take back the White House for the common good of the people. All the people.
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES ABOUT IDOLATRY
“I’m not a Universalist, and the way I talk about final loss is this: People worship idols – money, whatever. Their humanness gets reshaped around the idol – you become like what you worship. That’s one of the basic spiritual laws.”—N. T. Wright
“Revenge, lust, ambition, pride, and self-will are too often exalted as the gods of man’s idolatry; while holiness, peace, contentment, and humility are viewed as unworthy of a serious thought.”—Charles Spurgeon
What we need to affirm is that Jesus is neither a Democrat nor a Republican. Whenever we marry Jesus to a political party, we are committing the sin of idolatry. We are making Jesus into the image of our political party.”—Tony Campolo
All quotes courtesy of www.brainyquotes.com
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