Beliefnet
Idol Chatter

I found an amazingly thoughtful moment of holiday inspiration this week from a completely unexpected source–author and scholar Umberto Eco . His recent op-ed piece in the London paper The Telegraph, entitled “God isn’t big enough for some people,” is a poignant and yet blistering commentary on society’s desire to find something even bigger than a belief in God’s existence–particularly at this time of year.

The main point of Eco’s essay is that we as humans are religious animals, whether we like it or not. Eco believes that it is extremely difficult, not to mention morally dangerous, to attempt to get through life without the hope offered by religion. As Eco explains, “We are supposed to live in a skeptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity. The ‘death of God’… has been accompanied by the birth of a plethora of new idols. They have multiplied like bacteria on the corpse of the Christian Church–from strange pagan cults and sects to the silly, sub-Christian superstitions of ‘The Da Vinci Code.’

This is one of the times when I would like to sound more intelligent than I actually am by saying that I have read any of Eco’s books (like the bestselling “Name of The Rose”), and that I know all about his contributions to academia, but alas, Eco has not been on my literary radar over the years. I now know this has been my loss. As I try to not turn into a Scrooge while facing the inevitable chaos of this season, Eco’s words brought me back to a wonderful moment of spiritual reflection about God, about Christmas, and about my fellow man. Yes, there is absurdity in all of the commercial excess, pagan worship, P.C. debate, etc., all around me, yet I can still embrace the spiritual traditions of this holiday season without letting them limit my desire to grow in understanding of who God is.

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