Friday, January 2, 2015

Your god is Too Boring

The above drawing depicts the scene at the Nazi death camp in Auschwitz, in which Saint Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan Catholic priest, voluntarily took the place of a man sentenced to die in a starvation chamber. Why did he do it? Was he just a mindless, religious fanatic who had a silly belief that an "invisible man in the sky" would reward him for his sacrifice? Not hardly. Kolbe was an brilliant and well-educated man who had doctorate degrees in both philosophy and theology, and was fluent in several languages. He was also a master at utilizing the latest mass media tools of his time for the evangelization of the Catholic Faith. Like all of the Christian martyrs throughout history, Maximilian Kolbe had tapped into something real, something about which he had no doubts whatsoever. His faith underwent the ultimate test. C.S. Lewis summarized this test of faith in a brilliant way:
You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose that you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it? Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief (A Grief Observed).
The Epidemic

One of the great tragedies of our time is a widespread epidemic of boredom. We moderns have filled virtually every second of our day with some form of entertainment or stimuli, and yet, when you look around at peoples' faces, what do you see? Bored, stressed, anxious, and dissatisfied looks. Why? Because the average person in our society has enough money and resources to make life safe, planned, and predictable, and therefore boring. As Peter Kreeft wrote:
The most total opposite of pleasure is not pain but boredom, for we are willing to risk pain to make a boring life interesting (Jesus Shock).
The title of this post, "Your God is Too Boring," comes from my observations about the hobbies, interests, and religious attitudes of many people I meet, especially my peers. The typical teenager or young adult in our society has the primary interests of following sports, watching TV shows, listening to music (not the music of Bach or Mozart), drinking/partying, and "hooking up" with members of the opposite sex. In contrast to the gospel invitation of Jesus Christ, all of these are sad and boring alternatives (I know from experience). Instead of encouraging people to get outside of themselves, inviting them take the exciting risk of giving their entire life to something bigger than themselves (which they deeply long for), all of these alternatives turn the person inward, trapping them in a prison of egotism, self-centeredness, and comparison. I say "Your God is too boring" to these people (not literally) because any amount of time spent outside of their mindset reveals it to be painfully dull. Take following professional sports for example (I understand that many people reading this are probably huge sports fans, but please hear me out). Following a sports team to such an extent that your happiness and mood on a given day is tied up with the success or failure of "your" team seems very foolish to me. Why should I ground my happiness in something that is completely outside of my control? How does a bad call made by some referee actually impact my life in any way whatsoever? It doesn't! How many people waste their lives away watching other people play sports instead of enjoying the sports themselves? The most fun that some people have is watching other people have fun.

Everybody Worships

Now, in what sense are these hobbies or interests "gods?" They are for the following reasons. Human beings are naturally inclined to worship something. Like thirsting for water, being hungry for food, or craving sleep, we all have an innate desire to worship, praise, and thank something or someone greater than ourselves. Anytime we don't choose God as the object of this desire, we immediately replace Him with some lesser object (By object I mean 'source of fulfillment,' not merely a 'thing'). As Kreeft wrote, “The opposite of theism is not atheism, but the worship of a false god!” Soren Kierkegaard wrote, “Sin is building your identity and life on anything other than God." Saint Paul perhaps said it best of all in his letter to the Romans, referring to the pagans:
...although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools...they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! (Rm 1:21-22,25).
In light of this wisdom, we can see clearly that, especially in our modern society of rampant consumerism, there is not so much widespread secularism as there is widespread paganism. Instead of saints, we venerate actors, actresses, musicians, and athletes; instead of holiness and virtue, we aspire to success and material wealth; instead of cathedrals, we build stadiums; instead of cherishing the joy of the Christmas season, we cherish the deals of the Christmas season, instead of attending the Mass, we attend "the game." 

What Has Your god Done?

What can be said on behalf of these false gods? Your god sold the most albums in 2014, my God has sold the most book copies in the history of the world; your god created a Super Bowl winning team out of unlikely players, my God created a two-thousand-year-old Church out of a dozen uneducated fishermen; your god broke the record for home runs in a season, my God breaks the hardened hearts of all who seek Him; your god is your favorite food, my God gives Himself as food for me; your god wrote a New York Times best-seller, my God wrote the Laws of Nature; your god is responsible for the death of millions of innocent people, my God is responsible for the redemption of every person who ever lived and ever will live; your god denies the humanity of an unborn child, my God took on the humanity of an unborn child; your god founded the most profitable organization on the planet, my God founded the most charitable organization on the planet.

What Do You Seek?

If you're bored with God, then it's not God you're dealing with but caricature of your own creation or choosing. If you don't recognize Jesus Christ as the answer, then it's because you still haven't found the question. When Jesus met two of the disciples of John the Baptist, he asked them, "What do you seek?" (Jn 1:38). When they responded by asking him, "Teacher, where are you staying?" he answered, "Come and see" (1:38-39). Will you come and see the God who puts hymns on the lips of martyrs? Or will you be content to sacrifice all of your time and energy to the false gods of this world on the altar of your own comfort zone? Let us all resolve to make the one true God the center of our lives, and to "not be conformed this world but be transformed by the renewal of [our] minds" (Rom 12:2). Thank you for reading, and may God bless you!

Under the Mercy,
Chris Trummer


Catholic Biblical Association (Great Britain). The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition. New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, 1994. Print.

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