Which God? “Choose Life”

Part II

By M.D. “Doc” Bass Special To THE CALL



Kansas City CALL Newspaper Inc



To the “eternal God,” the showdown on Mount Carmel was far greater than some supernatural spectacle where the crowd roars, “The Lord, He is the God,” and He then ascends to the biggest throne in the hall of famous deities. It was more significant than an ‘X’ to mark the spot where the “fire of the Lord” falls and, in gruesome effigy, consumes Baal (the “boss god”) and Asherah (“Queen of heaven;” alleged “wife” of the eternal God) (I Kgs.18:19, Jer.7:18). As horrific a mess as the ensuing bloodbath made slaughtering 450 of Baal’s prophets at what eventually became the “most polluted river in Israel,” it was incidental to plans for life the eternal God had that exceeded victory over lesser gods in some divine battle royale. Curiously, the “400 prophets” of Asherah vanish from the text and seem absent from the melee. But, with His word “forever settled in heaven,” the irrevocable sovereignty of the eternal God stayed intact, with no equal and nothing to prove (Ps.119:89). This was the only God who’d “call heaven and earth” to witness His setting before all, and for all time, “life and death, blessing and cursing,” nudging His people to “choose life” (Deut. 30:19). Whatever her fate, like all the “other gods” and goddesses, their priests, magicians and witches, Asherah and her “prophets of the groves” lost their place in the heavenlies and faded to black. They left no trace of “greater love,” moral purity or any lasting record of truth and justice in heaven or on earth. Subject to climate, culture and the calamities of life, rituals, sacrifices and homage that were once the currency of exchange for negotiating the harsh, unforgiving and ultimately deadly terrain of life, also faded. Mortals were left vulnerable and without “the gods.” Periodically, some were reincarnated, according to imagination, the urgency of human need and weakness that was even more pronounced in the mismatch of mortal combat with the forces of nature, evil and death. These mythological characters reappear, polished with fanciful tales of their exaggerated exploits and their “magical” powers of fertility, virility and prosperity. The aura of their presence lingers on as generations of hyper-sexualized and pervasively pornographic youth rise up in their image. As part of the “shift” spoken so much about lately, these sensuous “gods” even cast a figurative spell upon the church, leaving it hooked on a “prosperity gospel” and obsessively eyeballing God’s “bag.” Doubt came also with this shift, gouging a void which was filled with curiosity and lust for “other gods” more friendly to human passion and their desire for autonomy, independence and freedom from moral authority. Traces of such arrogance slipped out of a crowd that responded to Jesus’ offer of freedom through knowledge of the truth: “We’re sons of Abraham,” they pompously retorted, “and were never in bondage to any man” (Jn.8:32,33). Somehow, they had absentmindedly misplaced 400 years of their enslavement in Egypt. Meanwhile, like all that glitters or is grimy but has high value at least in a global marketplace, “the gods” ascend and descend from their thrones in both the human psyche and in the “high places” of culture and commerce. Here they are refurbished or reinvented as superheroes, “shooter-survivors,” modern warlords and “Special Operatives,” running and gunning in super-macho episodes of “GI” gang fights. All fit neatly into a global video gaming market valued at $166 billion in 2021 and projected to grow to $307 billion by 2029, when more generations of youth will be nice and plump, fattened like frogs for snakes by industries that profitably recycle “the gods” as fun and games. Allied with them is a lucrative animation business creating characters for comic books, movies and video games that estimate “exponential growth” of from $354 billion to $642 billion between 2020 and 2030. Not surprisingly, Saturday morning’s cartoons and kiddie’s ‘cereal crunch’ have morphed into a virtual cavalcade of “the gods.” Like so-called “gateway” drugs that are said to open the door to the “hard stuff” -- the titillating thrill of fraternity with “zombies,” the “living dead,” and a fascination with the horrors and the abysmal darkness of the underworld is the lure for the people’s recurring appetite for paganism and the occult. As quick as America is ready to make a buck, the “psychic services” industry pounced, growing 2% between 2011 and 2016, increasing in value to more than $2 billion today. In a clever marketing strategy that portrayed occultism as “fun” and “morally neutral,” before the “real” witches put some heat on them, one of the cosmetic companies put a “Starter Witch Kit” out there on the market to hook those interested in bewitching their faces with it. Headlines had been announcing these trends for a minute, claiming, as the Christian Post did in 2018, that “Witches Outnumber Presbyterians in US; Wicca, Paganism Growing Astronomically.” According to Trinity College, between 1990 and 2008, Wicca grew from an estimated 8,000 to 340,000; and, according to the PEW Research Center in 2014, those who identified as Wicca or Pagan had grown to 1.5 million. Astutely, they had “effectively repackaged witchcraft for millennial consumption, shifting the language from “satanic and demonic” to “free thought” and rhetoric associated with “understanding earth and nature.” What was not described in real detail among these “philosophical and spiritual trends” was an intensifying and even controversial search for ethnic and spiritual identity. For those who, after having it stripped away by war, conquest and assimilation into so-called “dominant” cultures seek reunion with “the ancestors” and the gods presumed to have initially reigned over them. Once again they are roused from slumber and expected to restore their status as kings and queens. Others resuscitate the gods of antiquity, who somehow branded them, as Ishmael was, a “wild ass among men,” whose hand would be “against every man” as “every man’s hand is against him” (Gen.16:12). The unsettled questions ask whether a return to the “dark side” of this search is a paradox for some or providence for others. As they become bogged in the quagmire of their own curiosity, they ask whether the eternal God, as promised in II Thessalonians 2:11, may actually be sending them “strong delusion” for being “vain in their imaginations” and for “changing the truth of God into a lie” (Rom. 1:21-25). As they reject the true and living God and insist on having “other gods,” are these seekers being given over to “vile affections,” or turned over to a “reprobate mind,” where they become insensitive to the light of truth, and thus incapable of discerning or of choosing life? (Continued: Part III - GOP vs GOD)