September 24, 2011

Blood Sacrifice in the Modern World

By flip holsinger In God, haiti, journalism ethics, photojournalism, Uncategorized, voodoo, War

I read this morning in Psalm 115, “Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.” The psalmist was talking about idols. Dumb idols. That’s the psalmist’s take on the matter not mine.

The psalmist wrote, “Their idols are silver and gold, the works of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak. eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.”

I thought back to Haiti and the voodoo pilgrims and the blood sacrifice and the idols. I thought of the morning food sacrifices laid out on window sills in thailand. I thought of the thousands of artifacts and rituals I have witnessed in different countries, even my own country. I thought of the dollar store paintings of angels hung above mantels in the homes of poor people in America. I thought of statues of saints in Bosnia.

The psalmist said the people who make the idols and the people who trust the idols become like them. Dumb, mute, immobile, silent. Inanimate with no breath in our throats.

I thought, I have made idols. I trust in idols. Only mine aren’t so apparent. My idols are my wealth and all the things I look to for security that are not God.

The psalmist writes, “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Our God is in the heavens; he does as he pleases.” But in my idolatry I am the one saying, “where is their God?” I am the one filled with arrogance. I trust in what I build with my own hands. I trust in my human relationships, I trust in my job, I trust in anything I can see and touch, but I fail to trust in the living God.

I thought of these things this morning and I thought, I am really very much like the boy I photographed in Haiti. I am trained in false religion. I trust in things man has built. I am covered with the blood sacrifice of my modern world and I am at risk of becoming as hardened and dead as the idols I worship.

“Dear God, forgive us for trusting in anything other than you.”

The psalmist wrote, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.”

And the psalmist ends his psalm like this. “The heavens are the Lords’ heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man. The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any who go down into silence. But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the Lord!”

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