Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dialogue on Birthdays and Idolatry

I have left this dialogue unedited. The only thing I've changed is my dialogue partner's name for the sake of confidentiality.

Rather, it [i.e. Edgar's explanation concerning
birthdays] strikes me as arbitrary and strechted [sic]
beyond plausibility. Terms like 'extravagant' and
'idolatry' seem historically and metaphysically

I'm not sure that I understand what you're saying
here. I understand what it means for something to be
"historical" or "metaphysical," but I do not quite
grasp how my use of "extravagant" or "idolatry" fails
to be rooted with respect to history or metaphysics.
Surely it is logically or factually possible for glory
or honor to be extravagant or to approach the point of
idolatry. [Paul] Tillich even writes that when we treat
concerns that are less than ultimate as though they
are ultimate, then we commit idolatry. In my opinion,
terms like "idolatry" are primarily analytic. In the
words of phenomenologists like [Martin] Heidegger or
[Josef] Seifert, acts like idolatry show themselves from themselves.
It seems that if we render honor or glory to creatures
that is more properly reserved for the Creator, then
we have committed idolatry. I could stand to be
corrected. But that is how I understand matters.

I mean simply that their use doesn't seem to make much
sense either in terms of their common historical use
or common reality of human experience.

My use of the term "idolatry" is rooted in apostolic
thought. The Pauline Epistle to the Romans refers to
certain individuals worshiping and serving the
creature more than the Creator. While you may not
agree that birthdays fit into the category discussed
by the apostle in Rom 1:25, it is difficult for me to
understand how lavishing too much attention on
creatures fails to meet the criterion of a sufficient
condition for considering an act to be idolatrous.

As far as the common reality of human experience is
concerned, there are many aspects of Christianity that
conflict with "the common reality of human
experience." How much sense does it make from the
standpoint of l'etre pour soi (i.e. human reality) to
speak of covetousness or inordinate sexual desire as
idolatry? Yet, that is how early Christians and Jews
thought of PLEONEXIA or PATHOS (understood as
inordinate sexual desire).

[See Colossians 3:5]

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