Saturday, December 10, 2011

Smashing the Shrines


Usually that's the comment people have when I start talking about smashing idols.  The first people I know about that did this were the Pharaohs of Egypt.  They would destroy all statues and cartouches of any predecessor who did not conform to the established imperial norm - think of the efforts made to eradicate all evidence of the existence of Queen Hatshepsut - the only female Pharaoh.  

Then there were the kings of Israel.  When the people of Israel (I'm talking Old Testament here) had strayed into idol-worship, and a new king came along who honoured the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the new king ordered the destruction of the shrines, the worship groves, and the child-sacrifice sites. 

Much later, a group called the Iconoclasts went around after Constantine declared Christianity the state religion in the 300's, and destroyed the statues of the Greek and Roman gods and Roman emperors - especially removing their genitalia, and for some reason ... their noses.  The word iconoclast means "Idol destroyer" in Greek.  Since then, the word iconoclast has come to mean any person who bucks the established pre-conceived notions of a specific group, or political system, or belief, or art form, or ... whatever.
I'm an iconoclast at heart.   I don't see why certain things have to be just because they've always been that way.  So even if I don't always say so in person or at the time, I often question and ponder the practices and motivations of the status quo.

This doesn't mean I believe in change for change's sake.  There are some traditions, some beliefs, that are non-negotiable.  In the Christian faith, the doctrines of the virgin birth, the substitutionary death and the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and the Second Coming are non-negotiable.  

But as to HOW we do what we do as Christians, WHY we do it at times - I think scrutiny is warranted.  

So, with this in mind, I'm about ready to start smashing some shrines. 

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