It’s coming up on 4 years ago that Elizabeth Scalia, aka The Anchoress, and I had an online spat of sorts.
Without delving into the details of the quarrel (feel free to pursue them yourself at the link), suffice it to say that via the wonder that is hindsight I can now confidently state that particular squabble has proven to be the turning point, the proverbial fork in the road moment, of my trek back to Catholicism.
Ms. Scalia was able to gently yet firmly set me straight on a wrongheaded, even ignorant, opinion I was using to justify an action. Her correction masterfully, though not initially, made me turn inward, made me check my premises, made me stop and think about something I was holding on to with passionate yet foolhardy rigidity. Though I’m sure she didn’t know it at the time, she was confronting me with something that stood between me and the truth. In fact, again looking back, I can affirm that this something stood between me and The Truth.
All of which brings us to Elizabeth’s new book Strange Gods, Unmasking the
Idols of Every Day Life.
arrived on my doorstep just a few days ago and I’ve been devouring it. Unlike too many faith-focused books I’ve laid my hands on in the recent past -- books I lose interest in finishing because of syrupy platitudes or the highfalutin theological gobbledygook contained therein -- this book was a literal page turner, with one insight after another worthy of noting, worthy of sharing.
Take as an example, and trust me when I say the book is filled with these nuggets, something Elizabeth wrote in Chapter Eight, a chapter she titled The Super Idols:
We all do that from time to time; we get caught up in our cause, and we become careless with our words. Sometimes that’s about busyness and distraction, and not idolatry. But when we catch ourselves being thoughtless (or when someone points it out to us), we should consider the first commandment and ask ourselves if we have not elevated the object of our enthrallment to that position where it blocks God.
Those words take me back to that squabble back in August of ’09, the spat that began this piece, a time when I was not just stubbornly blocking a view of God I now cling to but a time when I was holding to a distorted view of Him l thought was not just reasonable but pure. The God I knew then, the God I was in essence imposing upon others who had good reason to be offended by that imposition, was in fact a strange god.
Ms. Scalia gently unmasked that unknowing idol to me four years ago and that unmasking led to a series of decisions that brought me home to my Catholic roots.
Pick up her book today and perhaps she’ll unmask an idol or two for you. Who knows where that might take you?