Idol Chatter

Ellen Leventry’s blog entry regarding Sasha Cohen’s Kabbalah bracelet was an interesting piece that brings up an interesting issue that should be seriously debated—or at least reflected on—in our culture: the difference between religion, spirituality, superstition, karma, luck, faith, and hope. I was particularly struck by Sasha Cohen’s comment on her wrist-piece, “I’m not deeply into Kabbalah.”

When she puts a Kabbalah bracelet on her wrist before she skates, what is really going on there? Is it a sign of faithfulness towards a God, hoping for blessing in return? Is it an act of superstition, hoping not to jinx herself? Is it a bet, sort of like, “Hey, just in case there’s a chance it could help, I’ll do it”? Is it considered a risk-free investment, along the lines of, “Hey, doesn’t cost me anything to wear it, and if helps, well, that’s all the more wonderful”? Is it a fearful act of not wanting to forego anything that may bring success? Is it a combination of all of the above?

NFL Players gather each week after the game, take a knee at midfield, and pray. A growing percentage of the league’s players will point to the heavens, take a knee, or cross themselves after a touchdown. Many players come to team chapel meetings before games. Does this mean they’re spiritual? Or does it mean they’re willing to work all of the angles, just in case?

These questions are relevant because, as spiritual seekers, we should ask these questions of “role models”–and then, more importantly, ask them of ourselves. Do I really have a faith system that believes that a bracelet will improve my score? Am I convinced that dropping to one knee on TV will get me God’s blessings? Or am I simply acting out of purity and faith, whether it gets me results or not?

As it turns out, Sasha Cohen fell twice yesterday and didn’t win the gold medal, even though she was wearing her bracelet. Does that mean it “didn’t work”? Or, given the fact that she fell twice and still won a silver medal, does it mean that she was rewarded for her “faith”?

Answering questions like these are important as we each consider our own spiritually driven actions, which we hope are more than acts of blind faith. And, at that point, if we’re truly willing to look within, then we find ourselves living out the true privilege of spiritual seeking. Short of that, we might as well admit that we’re going with the flow, going with the tide, going with the current, more out of convenience than conviction.

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