“‘Every evil screams out only one message: ‘I am good!’” This line from Alexander Schememann and quoted by Elizabeth Scalia in her recent work, ‘Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life (Ave Maria Press, 2013) is the ideal frame through which to understand her principal argument. The book is premised upon a fundamental truth, namely that we all create idols in our life. Idols obscure and blot our capacity to recognize God’s love for us and blinds us to our duty to share that love with others. This illusory capacity of evil to camouflage itself as a virtue is conceivably its greatest power since it focuses our attention on ourselves, on our personal desires and wants. It orients us to satisfying ourselves rather than being committed to dedicating ourselves to serve God and each other.
Starting with the seduction wrought by our ego, our intellect, and our prosperity, technology, passions as well as our desire to be in control of our lives, Scalia convincingly guides the reader through a type of ‘examination of conscience’ enabling the reader to both recognize the false idols we worship as well offering a few time-tested techniques that help us to overcome them.
Short in length and written in easily approachable language, ‘Strange God’s’ is a must read for anyone serious about deepening their relationship with God. It’s also a valuable aid to anyone who undertakes to be a spiritual director for others.