There is a scene in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods when a TV begins to talk to the main character, Shadow. The TV says that it is one of the new gods, not like Odin or those other gods. It is new on the scene, and becoming more and more powerful. Shadows asks the TV if it is a god, what do people sacrifice to it. The TV responds that time is the most common sacrifice….
We all know people who watch way too much TV. Casually, we say they are addicted. We know other people who are “addicted” to shopping, gambling, drugs, etc. It can go on and on. The psychological community defines this as behavioral addictions. The church, has largely gone along with this psychological definition as it seeks to counsel people that behavioral addictions have spiritual consequences. This is largely helpful.
There is something lacking in this though, mainly that instead of certain actions having spiritual consequences, we should more properly define these addictions as spiritual actions in and of its self. In other words, addictions are a form of worship directed at the powers of this world.
This view of things like TV as gods is coming from a work of fiction, but it aligns with the view of powers in the world that Paul outlines in 1 Corinthians. There are dark powers that stand behind the so-called powers of this world. And when we begin to align ourselves with these powers, what other can we call addiction but a form of worship?
The reality then, is that what we do is worship, and the dichotomy of secular and sacred we try to apply to our daily lives doesn’t work. What we do, all that we do, is sacred, if we choose for it to be. And, more pressingly, what we do may be worshipful even if we do not intend, for if we give our heart, our soul, our time, our family life to something other than God, how could we just stop at calling it an addiction when it is clearly worship?
Do you think addiction is a form of worship?
When we talk casually about sacrifice (“I sacrificed a lot for my family…”) do you think there is a spiritual component to that?