Book Study: Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life Chapter 10 & Conclusion

A friend just got a book contract and is starting the hard work of writing said book. Please keep her in prayer through this journey, it’s going to be a bit of a hard slog and she is in need of our support.

Last night we finished the book study on Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life.

He aches for us with a longing that our own yearnings for him cannot begin to approach.

Chapter 10 Strange Gods Elizabeth Scalia Ave Maria Press

It strikes me now, at the end of this book that Elizabeth points to living a life examined through the lens of the Great Commandment, “to love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind…and your neighbor as yourself.” On our my own part this is no easy task as the mirror I hold in front of me is distorted and what I see is not quite what the Father Sees. I struggle deeply with being worthy of, as evidenced by the disappointment experienced in losing followers or subscribers in the quilting world, because you know this is all about me as the center of the quilting world. (Please read “it’s all about me as the center of the quilting world” in your chosen sarcasm font.)

On June 10th Word on Fire posted this article written by Elizabeth wherein she shares the depression/ascedia (sloth) of the last year. One thing that got me right deep in the heart is this:

Perhaps the reason we sometimes get stuck in that swampy space between depression and acedia is because we try to stop the process of renewal; we fight it, hanging on to where we are (as though a season held dearly can extend into forever) because things feel scary and trust is hard, especially if we feel like we’re being urged toward becoming the something else God wants us to be. We put down the prayer books and the beads and hold back on participating in what comes next because what we know has begun to feel familiar and right to us, and thus comfortable.  

Word on Fire Resisting the Great Christian Adventure Elizabeth Scalia

I know this swampy space, have lived in this swampy space, seem to walk on the edges of this swampy space yearning to dive in and live there as it’s as comfortable as pajamas and a good cup of coffee on the front porch. Okay that’s just good, but living that day to day is no good thing. We’ve all experienced this in the last year. While I am a woman who prays I long to be a woman of prayer, where I dig into the active prayer with clear and deliberate intention. For years (and here is where I experience some sense of shame) I sat down at the dining room table with my journal, my favorite fountain pen, read, wrote and rightly ordered my day. Even when the shift came to the computer I would read something that lead to prayer first then go about the day. In both the day is rightly ordered toward God. I know what I’m capable of in terms of this commitment and herein lies the “if I can’t do that then I don’t want to do anything” experience. And herein then is where I need to examine all the things that are everyday idols in my life and reorder them towards God, thus rightly ordering my day.

Lord, open my lips.
— And my mouth will proclaim your praise.

Strange Gods is very much about rightly ordering our lives, looking for those things that we build to stand in front of God reflecting back to me, to us, a distorted, seemingly beautiful image of our self as the god of the day, moment. This sometimes prevents us from doing our work. My work is in the quilting world and I have work to do. I have prayer to be about – people who need for me to intercede on their behalf – and a God who longs for me to Live fully in him through spending that time with him. As I begin again, rightly ordering my day spending time with the One who Loves me into existence I will naturally set aside these idols and the disordered sense of self. Paradoxically as I examine my self, look to God rather than this disordered image of my self I see reflected back in these idols, my truest self will be revealed.

At the beginning of Strange Gods Elizabeth speaks to the turbulent situation of the moment where she was writing, which we recently lived through, and I want to call out this idol of fear that has moved to the center of our collective culture – I’m praying that we as a Catholic Community begin to once again live in this life as as sign of Contradiction to that fear, as the sign of Hope we are intended to live.

God bless,
Teri

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