The gods humans across the ages have chosen to worship, have always changed. They are changing again and there is nothing enlightening about any of this new crop of devilish deities.
While the old gods don't get a lot of attention these days, even during religious observances like Christmas, the new gods are constantly celebrated and in your face. Like all good gods, they are omni-present.
Christian monk Thomas Merton warned us about the gods we choose to honour.
Every person becomes the image of the God they adore.
Those whose worship is directed to a dead thing become dead.
Those who love corruption rot.
Those who love a shadow become, themselves, a shadow.
Those who love things that must perish live in dread of their perishing.
The new gods that are adored and that we are using to formulate our image, as I see it, are:
The God of Progress
Cultural anthropologists like John Bodley will tell you all about the dangers of worshipping at the altar of Progress.
"Despite the best intentions of those who have promoted progress, all too often the results have been poverty, longer working hours, and much greater physical exertion, poor health, social disorder, discontent, discrimination, overpopulation, and environmental deterioration—combined with the destruction of the traditional culture."
While Bodley has shown that the benefits of progress are often both illusory and detrimental to tribal peoples when civilization bulldozes their tranquil lives and high standard of living, everything he says applies to the rest of us.
We are all descendants of tribal people, and all the slavering of our attention on the God of Progress has only given us longer, lower quality lives. We are all victims of the worshipping of the God of Progress.
The God of Materialism
It is well established that once we have sufficient food, shelter, and clothing, further material gains do little to improve our well-being. How is it then, that the God of Materialism is even bigger than Jesus or Buddha these days?
In "The High Price of Materialism", author Tim Kasser goes beyond the well known unhappy facts, and looks at how people's materialistic desires effect their well-being.
"Indeed, what stands out across the studies is a simple fact: people who strongly value the pursuit of wealth and possessions report lower psychological well-being than those who are less concerned with such aims."
Now, what kind of god would knowingly do that to their devotees?
The God of War
Seemingly one of our favourites, the God of War is being worshipped now like never before. Can there be celebrations of other religious events while this brutal lord is being honoured in government temples everywhere?
Journalist John Pilger has been covering wars around the world since visiting Vietnam in 1970. He has pointed out that since 9/11, the US alone has spent $5 trillion dollars on aggressive wars, and shows that the current flight of 12 million refugees from at least four countries is only one consequence.
Imagine what the world could do with $5 trillion dollars if put toward helping rather than murdering.
"The major western democracies are moving towards corporatism. Democracy has become a business plan, with a bottom line for every human activity, every dream, every decency, every hope.
The main parliamentary parties are now devoted to the same economic policies — socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor — and the same foreign policy of servility to endless war. This is not democracy. It is to politics what McDonalds is to food."
This time of year is ripe for contemplation and compassion. It is a good time to take a moment to meditate and consider what gods we are really worshipping and celebrating, and why.