Sunday, May 31, 2015

Simply a Collection of Figurines?

I had the opportunity to attend a bat mitzvah. A truly wonderful ceremony. Similar to a bar mitzvah (Jewish "coming of age" for boys), a bat mitzvah (for girls) celebrates a person's fully becoming a member of the Jewish community. If you have never had the opportunity to attend one, I encourage you to.

One thing I noticed during the ceremony is that the Jewish faith has three major focuses: (in order of their presentation) Tradition, the Torah, and God. Unlike my Protestant-type experiences, which tend to elevate the whole bible as the "Word" and an object of worship, the Jewish faith focuses on the traditions of the past and the Torah - the first five books of the bible (a.k.a. "The Law"). At one point in the ceremony, the doors in the back of the main platform are opened and the Torah is presented. They take it out and carry it up and down the aisles, where people will reach forth and touch it with their books, and then touch the books to their lips in adoration. It is not done solemnly, but with great joy. In their readings and prayers (mostly in Hebrew), you hear the word "Torah" about as often as "Adonai" (God).

Do you like to collect things? I think it's a pretty common affair. I, for one, collect books (fiction and nonfiction) and movies that focus on time and time travel. My wife collects movies she thinks will make me cry. Some folks collect stamps. Others collect comics. Some even go as far as collect figurines (or, as some like to call them, "action figures" - though, since they don't move, I don't comprehend the "action" part.)

We, as humans, like to collect things. As George Carlin once said (not a quote - this is from memory): "A house is a place to store your stuff. The bigger the house, the more the stuff. The more the stuff, the bigger the house." And boy do we like our stuff. We find comfort in our stuff. We find security in our stuff. Don't believe me? Go on vacation and forget to pack something.

It's not easy to get rid of our stuff either. We find comfort in the tangible. I am in the process of ripping (AGAIN - higher bitrate) my entire collection of CDs and then GETTING RID OF THEM! Okay, not all of them. I'm keeping box sets. And live albums. And those autographed by the artist. And special local ones you won't find on eBay or Amazon. But aside from those, I'm getting rid of them! Okay, it's not easy. I know I'll have them in a digital format on my local hard drive, and on a backup hard drive in a fire-proof safe, and on a server somewhere in the cloud, but it feels odd to let go of the physical CDs. Why? Because we, as humans, find comfort and security in our physical stuff.

And we always have. Go back far enough in history and you'll find people with little statues of wood or stone that represented their gods, and they worshipped them! Then one day a guy named Moses is out looking for a killer way to roast his bag of marshmallows, and meets a God (who ironically is talking to him out of said "killer marshmallow roaster") who tells him not to make similar statues to represent Him. He said He is the God who created heaven and earth, and cannot be represented by insignificant objects of man's hands.

So what do we have today? Statues and rosaries and crosses and altars and prayer shawls and bibles and the Torah and grilled cheese sandwiches that look like Jesus that we consider as "holy", and we worship them.

I wonder what God thinks about us, when we focus on objects to represent Him. It's not like He ever said anything about that (check out numero uno on His Top Ten list [Exodus 20:3-5]).

So, like Gollum, what do you consider "my precious"?

© Emittravel 2015

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