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Monday, 13 July 2015

How's Your Worship?

I started my first day back at uni for my final trimester today. In my first lesson they played a video by David Foster Wallace (DFW) called This is Water which he begins with the following story: 'There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"' 

This story was one great opener for a brilliantly eloquent speech in which DFW explored just how dependant some of us are on what it is that we believe we know, what it is that we believe to be true. The idea that the most obvious things in life are sometimes the hardest things to recognise and give a name to. What these fish were swimming in one fish knew to be water but perhaps they only recognised it by the feel of it and the result of it. DFW later gives an example of how a believer might see something as a sign of faith but the atheist might see natural reasons for such a thing happening. 

Interestingly, DFW was by all accounts closer to an atheist in his religious views but he said the following interesting idea at the end of his speech: 

"Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship—be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles—is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clich├ęs, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings.

They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing."

It fascinated me because this is precisely the idea I've been talking about in my blog posts to do with God and worship. We were made for worship and even a man who is practically an atheist, like DFW, can recognise that we naturally slip into forms of worship. Of course he continues to state that all different religions (and ethical values) are pretty much the same when it comes to something that is good to worship. That is where he and I differ. 

I want to finish this blog post by agreeing that yes we do indeed fall into patterns of worship and many of these things that we worship are weak and pitiful. However, I believe that there is only ONE good thing to truly worship. And that is God because He by His very nature is good. So the question I have to you is this: how's the worship? Because you might be like those fish, swimming around in water without even realising it. What are you worshiping? And is it good to worship? The thing is you can choose what you worship but I would challenge you to think about placing your worship in the one source with eternal return: by surrendering your life in worship to the sacrifice that Jesus made upon the cross. And if you wish to do that all you need to do is confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and confess with your mouth that God raised Him from the Dead. So: how's your worship?