Friday, October 3, 2008

Rami: Response to Mike's 10/3 Post

Whenever talk of idolatry comes up I always go back to the work of Erich Fromm, especially To Have or To Be. Fromm speaks of two ways of living: having and being. The former is all about acquiring from a place of scarcity. The latter is about living with and in the abundance of the moment.

In the having mode God becomes an idol, "something that we ourselves make and project our own powers into, thus impoverishing ourselves. We then submit to our creation and by our submission we are in touch with ourselves in an alienated form. While I can have the idol because it is a thing, by my submission to it, it, simultaneously, has me." (Fromm)

Having and being had is the great sin. The God of the prophets cannot be had, and therefore cannot have you. The God of the prophets is the opposite of an idol. From the second of the Ten Commandments to Jesus (who I understand to be among the greatest of prophets), any god that can be imaged is not the eternal God."

The prophets’ challenge is to accept the freedom of uncertainly, insecurity, and not-knowing. Their way is the way of radical freedom, and they know that failure to be free can only result in enslavement to self and selfishness, and eventually exile from all that is meaningful and joyous in life.

A life of having is a life of being had. A life of being is a life of freedom. The “having life” is authoritarian and based on the false notion that you are other than the One Who Is. Alienated from God, you are forced to search for salvation, your sense of wholeness, by submitting yourself to externals. The “being life” is liberating and rooted in your unity with God as the One Who Is all things. Finding refuge in God, you are free from externals, you lack nothing, need little, and fear no one. I think Jesus and the Way of Jesus is a life of being rather than having.

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