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The crime of idolatry

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The crime of idolatry is, precisely, creating our own god, in our own image and likeness. Rather than encounter God in God’s awesome difference from ourselves, we construct a toy model in our own psychic and emotional image. In doing this, we do not harm God, of course, as unreality has no power over truth. But we do debase and scatter ourselves, surrendering the potential and divine glory of our humanity for the false glitter of the golden calf.

Just as we can cut God down to our own size and impose our own identity, so we can do this with other people. In meditation, we develop our capacity to turn our whole being towards the Other. We learn to let our neighbor be, just as we learn to let God be. We learn not to manipulate our neighbor but rather to reverence him, to reverence his importance, the wonder of his being. In other words, we learn to love him.

John Main OSB

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