1. I love your posts, John. Thank you.

  2. bainespal says:

    Right, the perpetual temptation to worship the thing that reflects the light rather than the source of the light.

  3. Bethany J. says:

    I have SO been there. :/ When I was in my early teens, my siblings, friends, and I were *obsessed* with LotR. Our whole lives revolved around it. It was all we ever talked about. We probably had a wider base of LotR trivia than Bible knowledge, and definitely had more lines from the movies memorized than Scripture passages! Some of my friendships were entirely based on the shared fandom, and crumbled after people moved on to different interests, which was sad. LotR characters were my most important role models, and “she’s a Lord of the Rings fan” would have been the first phrase any of my friends used to describe me. We went to an exhibit of some of the actual costumes from the movies and a friend and I naughtily touched one of them despite the rules, because it was like a holy relic to us! It’s kind of scary, looking back. There is totally a point where enjoying a fandom becomes worship and an idol, and probably children and teens are prone to that even more than adults. I’m thankful not to be in that phase anymore! (And still thankful, too, for the awesome world and stories that Tolkien created!…I’m just content to enjoy it all and not be consumed by it!)

  4. Julie D says:

    While I constantly have to battle that temptation, there are also times that the limits of fiction remind of how powerful God really is. Our God doesn’t need to scare people away through clever tricks (go to your room…glad that worked, it would have been terrible last words) or hope his allies come through (Good man goes to war.) He has all of the power, all of the time, and always knows what’s happening

  5. notleia says:

    I’m puzzling over whether fervor of any sort is automatically religious in nature. (To be honest, this was prompted by “everyone has a god,” to which I thought, “there are plenty of atheists I internet-know that disagree.”)
    But I guess that’s a smaller question within the greater question of where exactly psychology ends and spirituality begins. Can we feel excited, feel a great affinity to a thing without it being religious? CS Lewis (to continue the site-wide Lewis kick) called his affinity to science fiction a mental-emotional “lust” rather than a “joy,” with the spiritual implications he attached to that word.

    • bainespal says:

      Good question. I was reading an article on Lifehacker yesterday about anxiety. There’s another demonstration of the ambiguity between spirituality and psychology. The New Testament tells us not to be anxious, and yet anxiety has physiological manifestations. I guess large part of this is the psychology of the will. I know absolutely nothing about psychology, though.

      Can we feel excited, feel a great affinity to a thing without it being religious?

      That’s related to the question as to whether or not there are any choices that don’t have any moral meaning. I feel the need to believe that there is meaning in everything.

      • notleia says:

        Does that mean you feel the need to believe that there is a _moral_ meaning in everything? Is meaning itself inextricably tied up in morality, or vice versa? I’m not inclined to think so, at least not about everything, but open-ended questions are fun, aren’t they?

        • bainespal says:

          Does that mean you feel the need to believe that there is a _moral_ meaning in everything?

          I don’t know. I’ve just always felt that life is petty and stupid, and that fiction is so much better. My deepest doubts and despair come from the little things about life that seem meaningless. Life feces. And social awkwardness.

      • They are. And yet there is no such thing as “neutrality.” Those who claim so are merely trying (often without knowing it) to persuade others of their own morality without the others knowing it.

        • bainespal says:

          So, is the decision to eat a bagel for breakfast instead of cereal or oatmeal a morally significant decision? Normally I would expresses my feeling that it must be in some way, but I doubt that the people who say otherwise are trying to impose their own morality, even subconsciously.

          The bagel example is from a real discussion. I’ve also heard Christians argue, based on Paul’s teachings about marriage in 1 Corinthians, that even the decision to marry or not to marry is morally neutral. I know Christians who believe that God really has given us free will about a lot of things, and some choices we make don’t involve sin or morality or destiny. I’m skeptical of their position, but I don’t think they have a hidden moral agenda, either.

  6. AshleeW says:

    Wonderful article. These are some of the very things I have stressed over in the past as well. I feel guilty on a daily basis that I spend more time re-reading my own words (while writing) than I do reading the Holy Word. What a great and humbling reminder!

What do you think?