I listen to a variety of podcasts, including ones which are highly secular. One podcast in particular features two people who join various religions and test out pseudo-scientific remedies, and then report back on their experiences. They’re atheists, and while I find that many of their metaphysical assumptions are poorly thought out, I’m always curious to hear such viewpoints.
In Christianity, I’ve noticed that “worship” is an incredibly nebulous topic, and getting anyone to define what it is has about the same appeal as pulling out one’s fingernails. On this secular podcast I mentioned, the two atheists had a spontaneous talk on “worship,” and the female host noted the following:
“What would make it worship that it is not already? There is always this fight between Protestants and Catholics about whether Catholics worship Mary, and Catholics will say, ‘No, we’re the ones who would tell you whether we do or don’t,’ and the Protestants would say, ‘Well you’re just sort of relabeling the word…’
I feel like worship is one of those words like “in love,” where you just have to trust that it is meaningful to the speaker, and that’s it. Otherwise, there’s no particular guts and glue to the term that you can latch on to.”
This seemed incredibly astute to me as I was listening. I’ve seen worship defined as “singing,” “praying,” etc., which is highly curious, as “worship” itself is actually a distinct action verb, so calling “singing,” “worship,” is much like calling “running,” “swimming.”
Yet shows like Star Trek: TNG and Wayne’s World seem to understand what worship is, at least the way the Bible uses it. In an episode of Star Trek TNG, when a primitive natives cast himself to the ground in front of the Captain Picard, who is so advanced that he seems God-like, Picard attempts to yank the bowed man off the ground and states, “Liko, I neither desire your obedience nor your worship!” From Japanese culture, to the Saudis, the physical action of worship seems to be innately recognized across cultures. With our American perceptual filters, we sometimes lose sight of this.
“Then the man bowed down and worshiped the LORD.”—Genesis 24:6
With love, always,
Note: Jesus said that this action would not longer be at Jerusalem or the Mountain—not in a physical place—but in spirit and truth, because God is spirit. That is, a bowed spirit.