25 August 2009

Capable of Seeing It in Anything

One of the ways God is helping me these days is in opening my eyes to the pervasiveness of idolatry, in my own heart and in the world around me.

One thinker who had a profound understanding of the way idolatry captures the essense of sin in a holistic way as few other biblical-theological motifs do is Blaise Pascal. In his Pensees he talks about how resiliently and perversely sinful we are in that we continue to go back to our sins despite the fact that they have failed us every time; we convince ourselves that this time the sin (the idol) will satisfy. Then he says:

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.

God alone is man's true good, and since man abandoned him it is a strange fact that nothing in nature has been found to take his place: stars, sky, earth, elements, plants, cabbages, leeks, animals, insects, calves, serpents, fever, plague, war, famine, vice, adultery, incest. Since losing his true good, man is capable of seeing it in anything, even his own destruction.

--Pensees, X.148

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