Wednesday, July 17, 2013

An Ax to the Root

"It is interesting to ponder for a moment both the order of the Ten Commandments and Jesus' famous sermon.  While it is certainly the case that all the sins warned against in the Decalogue are serious, there does seem to be a bit of a hierarchy to them. Murder is a pretty big deal - certainly a bigger deal than coveting your neighbors' donkey. And yet, that is not the first or second or even the third commandment. It's not even the first 'You shall not.' The warning against strange gods is the first of those. Both the greatest commandment and the Sermon on the Mount do not present things like murder as root sins. The true roots of sin, the roots that grow into actions like murder, are seeded within the mind, which is where idolatry always begins.

No idol is constructed in the act of murder. Rather, the murder is, at its end, and offering to an idol. the real idol is the enlarged anger within us, and it forms through our willingness to sustain an idea about our righteousness, and therefore an idea about ourselves.... The great evil of murder, then is the fruit of the idolatry that is first an idea, and the idea is almost always about the self."

    - Elizabeth Scalia in  Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life., pages 31-32
    (italics in the original)