Readathon: No Other Gods

Another book that I have loved this year is No Other Gods, by Kelly Minter. It’s a realistic but gracious look at modern day idolatry. That is to say, it’s not an over-the-top legalistic view of idolatry which claims that watching tv or listening to “secular” music is a gateway for the devil. Instead the author focuses on her own humorous and even unflattering experiences with identifying and dealing with things- issues, habits, desires- that had become god-like in her life. She quotes John Calvin saying, “The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much.” So even good things, like for the author, a specific career path, can become elevated to ultimate importance. She even mentions that while ice cream and Friends reruns are certainly not bad, if the bowl and tv grow to be a necessary source of comfort or even numbing, how different is that from someone who looks to a bottle of vodka for the same thing? The tricky thing is, no one is going to judge you or stage an intervention over your tv ice cream time (or your stubborn passion for a certain career path). In fact, two people could be doing the exact same outward behavior but only one of them has made an “idol” out of it. Only you know whether your attitude about those things has placed it as an “ultimate” and therefore introduced a little or big wedge between you and God. On the other hand, she makes it clear that tackling “idols” with rules and legalism is simply another way to go off track, because the focus still isn’t on how you relate to God.

Several times in the book, themes appeared that I have been wrestling with over the last year (with which my blog readers are probably overly familiar). She talks about times that God purposefully leads her into the desert like in Hosea, but at the time it just feels like dry, homeless wandering. And that thankfully, eventually she sees the hints of a city line heralding an end to the desert time. (I hope I’m at that point now.) And there were at least three more strange coincidences that lined up with themes I was already exploring on my own. I loved reading the book, but a big part of that may be that it was so perfectly timed and in line with what I’ve been working through for a while.

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4 thoughts on “Readathon: No Other Gods

  1. This is interesting. I think it relates to something I believe in which is balance – if I had a mantra of some sort that would be it. I don't think anything is bad in moderation…but even working out can literally kill you if you binge on it or make it the main focus of your life. Seems like I have had a lot of idols over time…but it is also dificult because it seems really hard to attain all that you are trying without totally 'binging' on something and making it a God in a sense. If I didn't have that mindset I know I would have basically accomplished nothing in music…most of the things I've done that I'm proud of were because of my utterly obsessed attitude and determinination/drive. The mindset that “The ONLY thing in life that matters right now is this…and if I come up short then everything I've worked for is meaningless.” I'm proud of what I've done – but now that I'm out of it and I'm living a more even keel / balanced sorta life I can say I'm WAY MORE at peace…and I don't think I'd ever go back to that lifestyle. In fact, now I think I'd run from it LOL

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  2. I agree that determination and singlemindedness can yield big results in productivity. While that type of determination is unbalanced, I think it could still be good in service to the right purpose. I'm thinking of Noah and Abraham as possible examples- I think they were viewed as obsessed and unbalanced in their choices and lives, but they were actually doing what they were meant to do. That's part of what I liked about the book- that she didn't have any external criteria at all by which to judge yourself or others, not even simple moderation. Because it really comes down to your motivation and what or who you are “serving” with your actions, such that the exact same external actions could be “good” or “bad” (or right or wrong or helpful or not helpful) depending on your internal state.

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  3. That is true, and a good way to look at it! Abraham and Noah usually don't get put into that kind of perspective, people usually simply refer to their faith but not the dedication or how they may have seemed obsessed (at least not in what I've heard). It's like using Job as anything other than metaphors for going through a hard time. That's cool to think about!

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