What we make … makes us.
The things we make have a real effect of making us; from laws to malls, from social media to societal structures. The realities we as humans have made begin to mediate the ways in which we interact with and even imagine the world around us. Habits and regular practices shape and reshape our loves and our longings.
Liturgies, whether religious or secular, “shape and constitute our identities by forming our fundamental desires and our most basic attunement to the world. In short, liturgies make us certain kinds of people, and what defines us is what we love.” James K.A. Smith
*(Smith uses the term ‘liturgy’ to mean habit-forming rituals or cultural practices.)
It is easy to mock and look down upon those people and cultures who made physical idols to worship. We wonder, how could they worship something they made with their hands?
Yet in all of our modern civility, we are no different. We worship the constructs we make. The focus of our worship may no longer be images carved from wood or stone, but their function and purpose remain the same. It could be money, careers, one’s nation, politics, economic policies, philosophical ideas, education, technology, sports franchises, or pop-culture icons. All of these are man-made constructs that are often ascribed ultimate worth and value. Their assets worth calls for sacrifices of our time, our resources, our interests, our lives to them in the conscious or unconscious hope they will deliver some measure of power, approval, comfort control to us. Sometimes we even sacrifice ourselves to these realities not to make ourselves happy directly, but to find joy in pleasing them.