Review of Herbert Schlossberg's Book, Idols for Destruction: The Conflict of Christian Faith and American Culture
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Writing in the late 1980s, Herbert Schlossberg provides a thorough analysis of current trends in American culture in his book Idols for Destruction: The Conflict of Christian Faith and American Culture. Many scholars have examined Western civilization and concluded that we are in its declining years. Some use analogies of space: rise, zenith, and fall; others use analogies of biology: birth, maturity, and death. Schlossberg refuses to see all cultures as following these patterns, but rather attempts to use the concept of judgment, based on the biblical example of the prophets: “With their silver and gold they made idols for their own destruction” (Hos. 8:4). If the idols are destroyed, and we return to worship the true God, we can expect…show more content…
In dealing with idols of humanity and money, Schlossberg emphasizes the overarching role of envy in Western societies. Envy is often the cause of what he calls resentiment (a term originating with Nietzsche) – a festering mental condition that wishes injury to someone whose possessions or qualities are envied. Where a Christian ethic once encouraged an equality of opportunity, which necessarily produces unequal results, resentiment desires an equality of results. So the gap between the rich and the poor is seen as an evil in itself, and poverty is redefined from the lack of food or other necessities to the lack of an affluent lifestyle. When combined with materialism, which implies that wealth can be the only measure for quality of life, resentiment leads to all sorts of redistributive policies: welfare, government-induced inflation, credit assistance, corporate bailouts, trade regulations, etc. However, these policies are deceptive, since they never actually help the poor, but instead make them dependent, while at the same time enriching the people in charge of the redistribution. They have become a legal form of stealing and one in which the majority of people in Western society gladly participate.
Idols of nature include the material and the immaterial. Materialism claims that matter is all