The Second Commandment: Threats

Thou shalt not make unto yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. Thou shalt not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children to the third or fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments, Exodus 20:3-6

   What is the shape of a broken heart? When a heart breaks, does it fall, as shattered, in shards able to cut through all the other vital organs? Or does it break off a bit at a time like an ice floe thinned closer to the shore line? What is the shape of a broken heart?

   Idol-making is narcissism Man does not make an idol to look at God or to look for God. God does not forbid idol making because Man may one day stumble onto an image that actually looks like God. God forbids idol making because Man repeatedly crafts only images that look like himself and then calls them God.

   The narcissist is not someone we hate because he never gets beyond the mindset of a twelve year old, playing with his toys (Writer's Note: I am now told a well-known baptist leader in Texas recently posted something on line about killing an animal with a bow and arrow. I changed this notation to "toys," because I will not have the timeless truths herein reduced to a mere attack ad on some figure of controversy. I don't read everything out there. I don't spend that much time on line. I have a life.) astride the assumed name of some epic figure of classical lore. We can tolerate all of that nonsense. We reject the narcissist because he cannot vest himself in anything without its first adopting him. He cannot believe what he does not wish to be true.

   The idol maker is always looking for a father but he needs a father he can control, one he may remake repeatedly into his own needy image. This father blesses all the antics of the Self-Lover. The father-idol does what the first idols in the first temples were intended to do, i.e., hold the evil spirits in place to keep the Self-Lover safe in his Self-Love.

   My friend Tim says it was Augustine who wrote, "God offends by being God." I am not sure it was Augustine.

   I am pretty sure that human narcissism abhors the religious ideal quite because real, God-accepting, hypocrisy-shattering religion considers human accomplishment less than it supposes itself to be. That is, the idol maker wants to show off his work and hear several someones say, "That is it. That must be what God looks like." When the religious ideal questions his artistic interpretation, he feigns sincerity and expresses his shocked and hurt unbelief.

   Human narcissism is that hypocritical self-delusion by which the "I" presumes the consent of the "We." What happens when we bend to hear the roar of the crowd is this threatened behavior; we lose the ear of the One True God. We may veil our apostasy from the adulterous adulators but our kids see our self-belief, catch it and pass it on to our grandchildren. The empty chair set at Seder for Elijah is soon just one empty chair around an empty table.

   God describes Godself to Moses as "jealous." Jealousy is one of the shapes of a broken heart. When God calls Godself "jealous" God might as easily say, "I will miss you when you are gone."

   And we will miss God. We will miss the kind of lover who can hold a grudge for four generations but is ale to hold onto love for a thousand years times a thousand. We will miss the kind of lover able to lavish out buckets of affection on a whole race barely able to show a demitasse cup's worth of devotion.

   Jealousy, divine jealousy, is that vitriol or heartbreak? What is the shape of a broken heart? Or can I say it this way: it takes God a maximum of four generation to stop crying over us but a thousand generations elapse before God loses His smile.

1 thought on “The Second Commandment: Threats”

  1. Didn’t Augustine say something, like: “God offends by being God.”(?) I thought he did, but I can’t find it anywhere. Basically, God’s very presence reminds us that we aren’t gods unto ourselves.

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