We kickoff our series of book reviews with a provocative read by Elizabeth Scalia, the Anchoress at the world renown patheos.com.
In a contemporary culture that views idols as exclusively synonymous with individuals, we have lost our sense of what idolatry actually means and the intended purpose of Yahweh’s first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me”. In Strange Gods, Elizabeth Scalia provokes mind and heart as she recaptures with great insight the enduring truth that idolatry is never to be reduced to just persons, but always seen as anything and everything that we put “in front of God” (9). And once we put idol into that category, well…then you have ‘Strange gods’ indeed.
What of these Strange Gods? How many of us would have considered an “idea” an idol? How many of us would have envisioned our “plans” as deities that turn the most good-intentioned act into something that “gets in the way of the Holy Spirit?” (95). How many of us would have suspected that being “cool” is an idol that can be the downfall of man?
Elizabeth Scalia’s work is like a road map that has us navigating the interior life in how we say “yes” to God, and “no” to God in the minutia of everyday life. Mrs. Scalia helps the reader along in this navigation with her rich sense of American popular culture, depth in storytelling, and timely humor. Just when you thought you might be overwhelmed by the challenge she serves up, she throws in a little Calvin and Hobbes to lighten the mood.
What’s more, the Anchoress offers up a visual aid on the book cover in the form of a Church window. Inside this window are icons of the many unsuspecting idols of our contemporary age. What cannot be captured with words is certainly captured with pictures (icons). In a playful challenge, she asks us to “spot a few” (161) of our own idols, and so we should.
The end point is one simple question: what is getting in the way of our living relationship with Jesus Christ? I could not recommend this book enough to any person of any age that is serious about ‘unmasking their idol in everyday life.’
Type of Book: Christian Spirituality