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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Idols

 

As a child, I was told to hide my step-grandmother’s (“grandma”) behavior from my dad. Whereas she seemed to be irreligious, my dad practiced faith of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

 

Celebration of birthday and holidays was something grandma allowed. Since my dad was divorced from my mom and resided in another state, it wasn’t difficult to circumvent his rules.

 

I recall one occasion when grandma brought back the gift of a miniature totem pole from one of her many travels. Somehow, my dad discovered that I’d been given the figure and he was so displeased that I was required to get rid of it.

 

To the reader who’s unfamiliar with biblical doctrine, my dad’s displeasure may seem odd and perhaps his response is considered to have been a bit too overbearing. However, I was steeped in biblical doctrine and understood from where he was coming even if I actively disobeyed his wishes.

 

Exodus 20:4 states, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” I was even forbidden to display crosses or crucifixes.

 

1 John 5:21 adds, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” I was taught that “amen” translated to “so be it,” meaning that there was no further interpretation necessary to what was commanded of me.

 

1 Corinthians 10:14 expressed, “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” These and a number of other Bible verses specifically prohibit the use of idols—objects of extreme devotion, representations or symbols of an object of worship, or false conceptions of something.

 

Now, much older and having advanced in wisdom since childhood, I can better understand my dad’s reaction even though I remain skeptical of his religious practice. My perception is that it was important to him for me not to have placed anything imaginable above Jehovah.

 

When viewing this matter through the lens of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I appreciate what page 16 of The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion has to say. REBT practitioners are invited to encourage clients to be critical of messages from their idols.

 

For instance, if celebrity X attempts to convince his fans that taking an untested dose of gene therapy masked as a vaccination is healthy, a discerning degree of skepticism may be in order. This isn’t solely because celebrity X isn’t a medical expert, though because the medical intervention is untested.

 

Likewise, if I were to tell a client what should, must, or ought to be done in the client’s life, I hope that the individual would use similar apprehension with my advisement. Even though I’m a behavioral health professional, I’m a fallible human being.

 

Neither celebrity X nor I are deities. Furthermore, we don’t need people to view us as idols whose opinions are considered holy. An otherwise distorted conception to the contrary is itself a false idol.

 

Dear reader, it may be tempting to outsource your critical thinking abilities to famous people, government employees, members of the clergy, behavioral health professionals, so-called “experts,” and others, because you lack knowledge in a particular area. However enticing it may be, I wonder if it’s wholly necessary to do so.

 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response, and heading into the presidential election cycle of 2024, I’ve observed people treating other imperfect individuals as though they are idols—whether religious, secular, or otherwise. I argue that not only is it unnecessary to do so, it’s largely unhelpful.

 

You are flawed and so am I. Celebrity X breathes the same air as you and bleeds when cut, just like you. Consequently, I invite the reader to use a productive amount of critical thinking when dealing with individuals who are prone to err. None of us are worthy of being idolized, because we aren’t perfect celestial beings.

 

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

 

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

 

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

 

 

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW

 

 

References:

 

Dryden, W. and Neenan, M. (2003). The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion. Albert Ellis Institute. ISBN 0-917476-26-3. Library of Congress Control Number: 20031044378

Hollings, D. (2023, October 21). Appeal to authority. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/appeal-to-authority

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disclaimer

Hollings, D. (2023, September 8). Fair use. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/fair-use

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/get-better

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/

Hollings, D. (2022, November 4). Human fallibility. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/human-fallibility

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/life-coaching

Hollings, D. (2023, March 25). Question everything. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/question-everything

Hollings, D. (2022, March 25). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy-rebt

Hollings, D. (2022, October 7). Should, must, and ought. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/should-must-and-ought

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