The term (idolatry) can be understood to refer to any attempt that would render the essence of God accessible, bringing God into either aesthetic visibility (in the form of a physical structure, such as a statue) or conceptual visibility (in the form of a concept, such as a theological system). Like an aesthetic idol (such as the Golden Calf in the book of Exodus), the conceptual idol refers to any system of thought which the individual or community takes to be a visible rendering of God. The only significant difference between the aesthetic idol ad the conceptual idol lies in the fact that the former reduces God to a physical object while the latter reduces God to an intellectual object. ~ Page 12
I slept with that passage rattling around in m brain, and woke this morning with that passage still processing, and along side it my brain was singing the following song:
I spent much of the day trying to forge a connection between these seemingly two unrelated topics.
The way I understand what Peter Rollins was saying is that we need to be careful about how we think about God. Our very belief about how we believe in God can become an idol that can distance us from God. We cling to our own particular concept of God even in the face of conflicting evidence.
Looking at this Wham video from 1984 it's hard to believe that anyone missed the fact that George Michael was Gay, but at the time the possibility never entered mine, or any of my friends brains. He dressed trendily and consequently many of the girls at my school were into him. The thought that he might be anything different to the image that we saw presented seemed impossible. Like the hidden arrow in the FedEx logo, we failed to see what was right before our eyes.
Incidentally this view of George Michael was wonderfully captured in the movie Adam & Steve. Adam sees Steve dancing onstage at a nightclub in 80s New York, his friend Rhonda tries to persuade him to go talk to him.
Rhonda: What's with that solid gold dancer with his ass in the air?Adam: The dazzle dancer?
Rhonda: Yeah, why don't you guys get married!
Adam: I don't even know if he's gay.
Rhonda: He's got like frosted hair.
Adam: George Michael has frosted hair and he's like totally straight.
But I digress :)
When the news that George Michael was gay filtered out to the general public I remember many girls who refused to believe it. They believed that if the right girl came along he could be reformed (and most of them cast themselves in the role of his savior). Their concept of George Michael had become an idol that the clung onto even in the midst of conflicting evidence.
Peter Rollins goes on to say:
Western theology has all too often reduced the beautifully varied and complex descriptions of God found in the bible to a singular reading that does violence to its vibrant nature. The bible itself is a dynamic text full of poetry, prose, history, law and myth all clashing together in a cacophony of voices. We are presented with a warrior God and a peacemaker, a God of territorial allegiance and a God who transcends all territorial divides, an unchanging God and a God who can be redirected, a God of peace and a God of war, a God who is always watching the world and a God who fails to notice the oppression against Israel in Egypt. ~ Page 13
It surprises me how often people talk with absolute certainty about Divine Mystery. My experience of God has gotten so much larger as I journey through life, and many conceptual idols have been smashed along the way. For a description of one of my recent idols being smashed read this post here.
So there it is, God and Wham combined in one blog post.
Proof of my insanity?