“Man is certainly stark mad: he cannot make a worm, yet he will make gods by the dozen.”
~Michel de Montaigne
I’ve been familiar with this quote for a long time. I do not know much about the author, aside from the fact that he was a respected politician, is a respected essayist, and was a devout Roman Catholic (which makes it very amusing that after all my years of loving this quote I should find it HERE.)
I have not only loved this quote for years, I find that I have most unfortunately lived it for years. Yes, dear friends, I am stark raving mad, and for the longest time I never even knew it.
It used to be that when I thought of the First Commandment (“thou shalt not have strange Gods before me”) I would think—quite naturally—of the pagans. False gods, in my mind, meant Baal and Thoth and Thor and the like. It meant making statues of creatures, killing calves before them, and other such strange and recognizable practices.
However, gods are much more easily and subtly made. A god can be anything to which we attach the value and attributes of the One True God; worship is not just in blood, but in attention, time, and love. How much time and attention does it require to make a “strange god” of something? I believe that question is best answered with another: how much time, attention, and love does the True God require?
Well, all of it, frankly. He Who gives us our very existence…He Who commands us to pray without ceasing…He Who is infinite…He demands all of our time, all of our love, and all of our attention. Nothing can have value outside of an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God because nothing is outside of Him. I cringed when I realized this. If a false god is anything given what belongs to God—and all attention, love, and value belongs to God—that means that if we place value on anything we have made a false god. Every time I watch television without God as my end, I’ve made a false god. Every time I read a book without reflecting upon how that action serves God, I have made a false God. Every time I love my loved ones without viewing that love as a service for the Lord, I have made a false God.
Now, I am not saying that we live in mortal sin all the time. We are human beings; it is in our nature to love others and to enjoy pleasure. We unconsciously attach God-less value to all sorts of things, and an unconscious sin is hardly a sin. Yet…
Dear Lord, how many Gods we make!
(Now please enjoy this off-topic quote:
“There is one thing worse than being alone: wishing you were.”
Thank you for reading!)