Saturday, September 12, 2009

Idols as Makers

The thoughts of the 115th Psalm are some wonderfully culturally and spiritually provocative thoughts. The Psalmist argues that those who make and worship idols become like them.

Those who make them become like them.
So do all who trust in them.

One of the most provocative commentaries on these words I have run across comes from Marshall McLuhan’s, Understanding Media. It is in this book that he makes the famous assertion that the medium is the message. A large part of his argument is that the use of technology is necessarily an extension of and formation of our “nervous system.” We cannot engage with technology without being shaped by its form long before we even deal with the message.

The ancient idol makers of Psalm 115 crafted gods out of metal and stone, and thus created technologies and mediums for spiritual use. McLuhan notes:

To behold, use or perceive any extension of ourselves in technological form is necessarily to embrace it….By continuously embracing technologies, we relate ourselves to them as servomechanisms. That is why we must, to use them at all, serve these objects, these extensions of ourselves, as gods or minor religions. An Indian is the servomechanism of his canoe, as the cowboy of his horse or the executive of his clock.

Great fodder for thought!

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