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This week's prompt is "Path"...

12 February 2009

Idol: The Market

Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
~ Jonah 2:8
When I think of the word “idol,” I’m immediately reminded of the golden calf the Israelites created and worshipped at the base of Mount Sinai as described in Exodus 32:4 (Poussin’s Adoration of the Golden Calf is shown above). It always seemed incredible to me that Aaron could fashion an idol and encourage such blatant idolatry at the base of the very mountain upon which rested the glory of God. In doing so, Aaron reduced the God of Israel to a physical thing, something that could be understood and controlled (“This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt”). That’s what men do, we reduce the unfathomable and the uncontrollable into something much less frightening.

One of the more popular idols in our day is The Market (Arturo Di Modica’s Charging Bull is shown above). For many people, The Market is a kind of god – they follow its every move, study its inscrutable ways, wager their future and place all their hopes upon it. How pitiful that after more than three millennia we’re still worshipping the same bull. I admit to a little schadenfreude at our recent economic troubles, not because I enjoy people’s misery, but because I delight in the destruction of idols. Economic judgment has been substituted for moral judgment and that which is good for The Market has been deemed intrinsically good. As The Market bull gets mauled by a bear, and our leaders stumble in the dark to “save the economy,” I hope we’ll turn away from worthless idols, and look back to the mountain and to the God of grace.

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