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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I am Gomer

One of my greatest temptations is idolatry. In the most biblical sense of the term.

Many of my friends know that I have two tattoos....one of a coyote, the other of a horse. I designed the horse myself, gave the image to the artist, and the result is our combined effort. The coyote, the same...but I took from what the artist had available and asked him to customize it for me.

It'd be lying if I said it wasn't idolatry. And I have lied about it, partially out of trying to fool myself, partially out of trying to fool others.

In the end, the truth doesn't change.

Old Testament

Anyone familiar with the Old Testament knows the cycle of the Israelites falling away. God does something mighty (such as leading them out of bondage), they fall away, and then when they get bored, they create idols. And when they are combined (as in the book of Judges) with other peoples, they disregard God and they follow other gods. Until a Judge is raised up who finds the Law, and interceeds for the people, and then they repent, and follow the Lord, until some other shiny object comes along.

The Bible is a very human book, and we can all see ourselves and our cultures mirrored in it. If you are one of those who think you and your culture are aloof...then you're one of those who isn't getting the message. Read it again.

Hosea is the book that first reveals the spousal relationship of God to His People. It's extremely shocking, as are many of the prophetic books that use sexual imagery. God tells Hosea to take a whore as his wife, and the children (all of questionable parentage) are given names such as "Not Mine" and "Not Pitied", to represent the people of Israel...the chosen people, who are supposed to be the spouse of God, but have left Him for the more attractive ideal of complete debasement. This book draws a correlation between adultery and idolatry; for idolatry is nothing other than spiritual adultery.

In reading the Old Testament, I am convicted. I am both an adulterer and an idolator.

I merit NOTHING but death.

I am Hosea's wife, Gomer.

A couple weeks or so ago, I came across a video of Fr. Barron and his review of the Mel Gibson movie "Apocalypto." I saw this movie when it came out on DVD, and, upon Fr. Barron's review, was inspired to see it again. I had purchased it because of my interest in the ancient cultures and religions of Mexico specifically (having been there, having stood at the top of the Temple of the Sun in Teotihuacan, having been to Monte Alban near Oaxaca - and having given a speech on the the artifacts in Tomb 7, and having walked the ruins of Tenochtitlan in the Zocalo of Mexico City.)

I've read the book "Aztec" by Gary Jennings, and found, even with the literary license, to be very accurate in terms of the setting and culture...and much of the religion, attitudes at the time, etc. In fact, they are not that much different than the current American culture; except that religion isn't what guides our human sacrifices these days.

Sad to say, for a long time I harbored a great deal of resentment towards the Spaniards as a result of my indoctrination, and only now am I able to shed these vestiges of propaganda and look at Mexico through Catholic eyes, through rational eyes, not those of the writers of History who contained their own secular anti-Christian biases within the sale of their works.

Ancient Israel

I wish I could distance myself from the idolatrous people of Israel of ancient times. I wish I could stand aloof and say I would NEVER engage in their idolatry. In the descriptions of the women of Jerusalem, they were well-adorned in their wealth, they took their offerings to the goddess Ashtarte, the Queen of Heaven, among others, and engaged in fertility rituals to her, which was really temple prostitution. Baal was one of the most prominent Old Testament gods, for he makes his appearance in Deuteronomy, 2 Kings, and Isaiah, among others if I am not mistaken.

In Isaiah, God makes it very clear what He means by "filth", for it does not match the human understanding of the term. In His chastizement, He alludes to the perfumes and the jewels, the accountrements of the women as "filth", claiming He will cleanse them of this in His punishment for their idolatry.

For indeed, the chosen people had given obesience and had desecrated the Temple through their worship of foreign gods.

I am no different

As much as I've thought that I would not be like that...as much as I have thought, through my own Pride, that I would not give in to such worship of foreign gods and goddesses....I would.

I am Israel. I am daughter Jerusalem. I am condemned.

Tonight, in watching the movie, I found myself wanting to pray with the women crossing the river, "Tender mother of mercy, help us!"

Even as my understanding of "Mother of Mercy, Mater Miseriacordie" is different than their goddess, it is similar enough. If I were with them, even with my beliefs, I would find myself joining my beliefs with theirs. I might be strong in my resistance at first, but then, give in to the culture around me. The differences, especially under pressure, may seem subtle.

It's easy, when we're surrounded by people who believe as we do, to say we'd resist the beliefs of a different culture.

But tonight, even in watching a movie, I realized how easy it would be for me to be caught up in their pagan beliefs, in their demonic beliefs. I understood how simple it would be to forget that there is only One God, and instead, adopt the gods of the dominant government. If I had been a sacrificial victim to Kulkulkan, or the war god of the Aztecs, Huitzilopotchtli, who knows? Perhaps I would find myself praying to that demon en route to my demise.

I found that it was easy for me to adopt the ideas of these dieties, and felt myself drawn in to them, such that, with the characters, I could have been pulled into their worship. There is a certain romance about the idea of Jaguar as a protecting diety. There is a seductiveness in the pantheon of the Mayans and the Aztecs....a god for every occasion.

Such is the life of someone who has left behind New Age and the occult...which accepts all of these premises, rejecting only Truth.

I've learned my temptations, but they caught me by surprise tonight as I found myself trying not to "pray" to mythical dieties. It would be so easy to repeat their names. It would be so easy to fall into their practices of everyday life. It would be so easy to make an "offering".

I am Gomer. You can read about me in the book of Hosea.

The only difference is this: Gomer didn't know who she was, or the lesson being learned through her. I do. And I have chosen this path anyway.

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.

5 comments:

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

I'll take some of that mercy too, I'm a sinner too :)...you're not alone in this battle.

Our Word said...

Adoro,

Forgive my irreverence - when I saw the headline, my first thought was, "now, why in the world is she calling herself Gomer Pyle?" Perhaps Adoro is actually Jim Nabors?

Well, that was silly. Your post was not. Very well put, and something we could all do well to reflect upon.

Mitchell

Maureen said...

Adoro, you don't seem to be having a very easy Advent. I will be praying for you.

On the bright side, there is a certain clarity in being able to see your temptations and faults, instead of being able to forget about them even while falling prey to them.

Mike T said...

"I harbored a great deal of resentment towards the Spaniards as a result of my indoctrination."

I can hardly think of a single example that so excellently shows the continuity of propaganda that has led us to the leftism and secular humanism of today from the chauvinism and racism of yesteryear. (Eugenics to "zero population growth" to "free choice" is another excellent example.)

100 or even 50 years ago, propaganda said that the Spaniards who came to the New World were crude and less enlightened than the Englishmen who came. Now the Spaniards are white imperialists who destroyed the superior indigenous culture of the Aztecs. Very smooth transition in mass media propaganda.

As Roman Catholics, we emphatically reject both of these flavors of anti-Spanish propaganda and give praise to Almighty God for having blessed the Church with so many great Spanish saints, including -- to name just a few -- St. Dominic, St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and St. Josemaria Escriva.

I wonder if today's saint would have considered himself a Spaniard. The older brothers of Francis Xavier actually fought against Ignatius of Loyola on the side of the deposed king of Navarre in the Battle of Pamplona. There was some concern of scandalizing the family when Francis joined the fledgling group of pre-Jesuits in Paris. The two men went on to have one of the most dynamic and productive friendships in the history of Christendom.

Mike T said...

Please forgive my continued digression. On the subject of holy Spaniards -- particularly, ones who behaved benevolently towards Native Americans in colonial times -- I thank Mark of the Dominican Idaho blog for teaching me about St. Turibius, a former Inquisitor who was named to be the (arch?)bishop of Lima. Here is one interesting source about him: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14781a.htm