Isaiah’s attack on idols elaborates on the tools and technologies that the id0l-maker uses. The smith uses an iron tool and hammer (Isaiah 44:12), the carpenter a measuring line, plane, and compass (v. 13). Several of these words are used nowhere else in the Old Testament, and this is one of the longest lists of tools in the Bible.
Having constructed his graven image, the maker bows to it, prostrating himself before the work of his hands (vv. 15). Prostration is an act of homage; it lowers the worshiper beneath the object of worship, signifying his submission. The idolater bows before the product of his tools. He lowers himself before the fruit of his technology.
That image gives us an angle for considering the reality of technological idolatry.
Idolaters of technology don’t literally consider their technologies to be divine. But many do “lower” themselves before their technologies. Instead of wisely using the products of their labor and ingenuity, they “bow” until the latest gimmick is ruling their lives – determining how they use their time, how they spend their money, their interests and values.
If you don’t believe this happens, consider someone (invariably, a young man) who has become addicted to games. Who’s running his life? Him, or the lust to fight the next monster, conquer the next level? Who is bowing before whom?
Or, consider the much more common character type – the iPhone worshiper who cannot get through a meal or a meeting without checking his mail. Who’s lowering to whom? Is he making the iPhone work for him, or is he genuflecting at the grave of Steve Jobs?
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 4:36 am
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