from Ryan Knowles
"He [Aaron] took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool." / "Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!"
How easy is it for us to disavow our active participation in sin? It seems a ridiculous bit of excuse-making on Aaron's part to place the blame on the fire for the creation of the calf, and while he at least admits to taking up the collection of the gold, the end result is disavowed as somehow outside of his control, or having occurred as a kind of automated outcome of an otherwise innocent process. I think of our current context, where we can so easily mask our complicity in a variety of vices and clever replacements when God seems absent by claiming a step of remove, a certain passivity in our consumptive patterns. We can hear it echoing in the privations of Lent, when we "give up" chocolate, or overeating, watching TV, coffee, excess spending, or drinks other than water. It is too easy to focus on the end result of a complex process, as if a cup of coffee appears on our counter each morning, and our only role is to deny it to ourselves. The greater challenge posed here is to recognize the tool(s) we use like Aaron to fashion our idols - and these are not simply "mental" states or dispositions, they are the habits, the configurations of our bodies, the places and manners by which we order our lives. Let us take during this Lent to consider how complex a network we've created to allow ourselves to sin, and the ease with which we let ourselves off the hook.