i ..am a temple builder.
i say this is a bleak epiphany because the temples i build are not for the One True God. They are for idols. Occasionally, i may have even built the idol itself. i choose not to think about that too hard. i find it unsettling. Like finding your toothpaste in the drawer of the vanity and wondering what that tube in the medicine cabinet that you have been brushing your teeth with for the last fifteen years really was.
Now idols are seldom carved images as they used to be. Folks don't bow down to golden calves half as much as they used to. But though Baal, Ashteroth and Ashdod, Dagon, Zeus, Aphrodite and the gang may be as popular as Cheryl Tiegs and Farrah Faucett, Work, Wealth, Status and the Perfect Children seem to have picked up the slack. And every day, i am commissioned to build a temple to one or more of these.
i had this black brainstorm on the way to Home Despot as Jimi sang Manic Depression. Coincidence, i think not. i was pondering my latest shrine, this one in particular to the gods Perfect Children, Success and Status. A pretty common blend for the post-modern pagan. And i was wondering why i hated my job so much today. Don't get me wrong, i generally speaking, make it a religious observance to abhor my work every day, but today was worse than usual. This customer, to be honest, made it worse than usual. They are not my worst customer, by a rather sad longshot, but they fit a type that my worst customers have filled out. So i was wondering, what about that archetypal customer made me feel so low? Why did i feel so used? Worthless even while working?
And then it hit me. Just like the ancient silversmith commissioned to carve an image for the local, rich guy who wanted a god he could control and manipulate, one that would give him what he wanted, instead of demanding something by right from him, one that would stay conveniently mute when and if the man checked his conscience. I had been commissioned to build a temple, a monument to what my customer thought would complete them, what my customer pursued with all of their resources and energy. What my customer was drawing their identity and glory from.
Now don't get me wrong, not everyone who finishes a basement with an eye for creating a cool space for their kids is inherently an idol worshiper. It's all about motives. Now, not being God, i can't see hearts in order to judge motives. i am stupendously NOT without sin. i'm not chucking rocks at them. But it's not just the idealistic and the naive who wear their hearts on their sleeves and when those hearts are selfish, self-absorbed and casually arrogant, they aren't all that much of a joy to work for.
But i didn't come here to talk about idol worshipers. Okay, yes i did, but only indirectly. As i said, i didn't come to chuck rocks at them. i want to chuck rocks at me! What it comes down to is this realization, this bleak epiphany, which i still think would make a great name for a band or a song or something in some way related to something that sorta had to do with music, is that every day brings a new reason why i don't want to go to my job anymore. i don't know what to do with that... it's not like i have another option, or at least not one obvious to my myopia. So as i felt the bitterness rise like chronic acid reflux i prayed and went to another Home Despot cause the first one didn't sell primed, finger-jointed one-by's.
There i bumped into a guy who thanked me for telling the kids a story at the Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday.
i want more customers like that!