Saturday, January 7, 2012

American Idol

Today marks the last weekday of the Christmas Season. This year, because of Christmas falling on Sunday, the normal structure of the calendar was disrupted. Normally in most dioceses in the US the sequence of Sundays after Christmas is Holy Family, Epiphany, and finally the Baptism of the Lord which marks the transition from the Christmas Season to Ordinary Time. (Logical-because the Baptism marked the beginning of his public ministry). This year the Holy Family was moved to a Friday and the Baptism of the Lord is moved to this coming Monday. 

On this last weekday of the Christmas Season, we get one last admonition from St. John "Children, be on your guard against idols." My gut reaction to readings about idols is the same as most modern people, I suspect. At first, I dismiss them then on deeper reflection I start looking around my life. Are there things that have become idols? For many of us technophiles our smartphones could come close. When we can't go an hour without checking them, perhaps there's a problem? Do we check-in with God as often as we check our email?

But moving a little deeper I was taken back to an expression I heard the other day. One person said of another, "He's a self-made man who worships his creator." There is a real sense in which in modern America we don't have idols, and we reject "organized religion" because we have replaced it all with the idolatry of the self.  Individuality has been taken past healthy to the point that we have canonized narcissism. 

We see it most clearly in our present economic/political situation where we have lost the concept of self-sacrifice for the common good. When was the last time we even heard anyone talk about SELF-sacrifice or the common good.  We hear lots of talk about sacrifice, as long as its someone else's. People decry the two political parties without recognizing that they are what they are because they are both pandering to the selfishness in all of us. How bad will it have to get before we realize that the more inward we turn the more lost we become. 

American Idol made be the show that best represents us. It's opening is a series of picture of individuals, all wanting to be the next American Idol. Really?

Children, be on your guard against idols.  Even yourself.