Saturday, July 13, 2013

Can knitting be an idol?

The Second Commandment, out of only ten: Do not worship idols.

It was the subject of a recent sermon at my church. The preacher acknowledged that actual idols that people literally bow down to are vanishingly rare in modern Western culture. And yet, humans still have this need to worship something. And we still have this tendency to drop our eyes from God to something we can actually see.

I certainly do, anyway. I didn't write for ten years, because writing had become my idol. And when I write that, I don't mean that I nobly and selflessly put it away from me and now I'm all righteous. I mean that I had my idol smashed before my eyes, revealed as the false hope it was, and all my desire to write evaporated.

But that's a story for another time. Because now I'm worried about knitting.

When I arrived at church a couple weeks ago, I realized I'd forgotten to bring my tithe—again. Now, if it were just a bill to be paid, I'd be ok, because there was one more Sunday in the month, I could catch up then. But it's not just a bill... or at least, it shouldn't be. It bothers me that in some ways it IS just another bill to me. It's not the act of worship it should be.

By contrast, I went to a fiber event the day before. I planned way ahead for that. I carefully hoarded my spending money, made sure to get my cash together, thought about what I'd shop for.

Follow the money. What's my priority?

OK, it's not a perfect comparison. Fiber events are rare for me; church is every week, there IS always next week. However, one of the criteria our preacher mentioned for identifying an idol was, "What do you always seem to find money for?" Hmm.

The jury's still out; I don't see most of the other criteria applying to fiber crafts in my life.

However, I do see signs that there may be people out there in the "fiber community" who DO put their crafts in the place of a deity in their lives.

No, they don't bow down before their yarn stashes. But how about acquiring more stash than you can possibly ever knit—and then continuing to purchase more?

Some other criteria from the sermon:
  • It is the source of our security.
  • It is the source of our identity.
  • What do you treasure? Dream about, dwell on?
I see people writing about yarncrafting as if it's their comfort and their solace and their ultimate. Like it's the cure for all social ills. Like only at a fiber-oriented event can they find true fellowship. Is this worship?

Maybe; not necessarily. There's nothing wrong with using knitting to relax after work. Crafts can be a creative outlet, and yarncrafts have the potential for something really useful as the end result.

The trick is that just because something is lovely and comforting and whatever other good qualities it may have, doesn't mean it can provide ultimate fulfillment.

The key statement in the sermon for me came, oddly, in the middle. This is what I want to take away and evaluate myself against whenever I seem to be getting too much into something:

Idols are usually good things that we have made god things.

Another way of thinking about it is, what do I look to for life? (I don't remember where I picked that up; possibly John Piper.)  What do I look to for fulfillment?

I just want to remember that He is the ultimate; anything else good in my life is a gift from Him.


  1. this is st that's been on my mind for years. knitting, ravelry, internet in general, can all definitely be idols. i actually gave up internet and my ipod for lent because of this. i know that the attention i give my crafting , my virtual friendships (ttough they are true freindships to me after all these years), the time i spend listening to audiobooks and podcasts detract from the focused attention i give to my family and also keep my mind so busy that i can't finding time for prayer and praise

    1. I hear you, Rebecca. One year I gave up Ravelry for Lent... I don't know, though, if spending too much time on something automatically means it's an idol. It might just mean a lack of discipline. I think we have to go on a case-by-case basis.