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    Better Off: Idolatry

    March 16, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    One of the foundational discussions in Ken Myers’ book All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes was concerning the idea of idolatry. Popular culture, especially as expressed through rock music, promotes idolatry, especially idolatry of the self. This was the essence of what Myers was saying in those chapters.

    Enter Eric Brende. He’s a Catholic living with the Minimites, a stricter-than-Amish Plain Sect whose lives are completely antithetical to the popular culture Myers described. Does this mean idolatry disappears? No! Brende writes:

    [Edward] honestly agreed with the group’s interpretations of Scripture and its refutations of Catholic positions. Unlike Mr. Miller, Edward had no problem accepting this small local assembly as the only true Christian church, whose doctrinal and disciplinary proclamations could not be gainsaid…

    It was not easy for me to understand how someone with his intellectual aptitude could have accepted this. The only way I could make sense of it was that he had become an enthusiast. He had, somewhere on the bumpy ride from the [Vietnam] battlefields, crossed a subtle line–not only to live the way of life, not only to love it, but to idolize it. All too ironic for a lapsed Catholic.

    I keep mentioning that I have been pondering the idea of building a livable life, a life that isn’t too burdensome to be born by the average person, a life that has room in it for human connection and communing with our Lord. And I fully intend to keep thinking about it. But Brende’s warning is clear: our fleshly hearts are never far from idolatry. We can start off wanting a life that better honors God and then begin to worship the formulas that got us there.

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