And Paul Simon sang in “The Coast”,
That’s worth something
When you think about it
That is worth some money.
It illustrates the knee jerk reaction of our age – monetarisation. Everything is measured against a financial tag. Now if I see a habit, especially one as pervasive as this, that’s an invitation to deconstruct.
The question is not so much “What is it worth”, as it is “What is worth”? Why do we find ourselves ascribing worth to things, especially monetary worth.
OK, so I have a pound sterling, a rand, a dollar, a Zimbabwe dollar, whatever. A piece of paper, or a coin. What does this token mean? A lot apparently, people will kill other people to have some of it.
A unit of currency means (I’ve never tried this, but stay with me) that a central bank is obliged to give you the equivalent in gold, to pay the bearer. You get your gold, or gold dust, what upholds that? I say it is the Crown, more modernly the government, it is power. What does power entitle? Land, a place to have dominion over. What do we slave over? Our mortgage, so we can have dominion over our piece of land and get the Bank out of the equation.
What does this land, this domain, represent? I say freedom, independence and identity.
Why do we want independence and identity? That’s not so easy to say, because we are leaving the material and the quantifiable behind as we get into the murky areas of meaning and the soul.
Sorry to let you down before we came up with an answer to the Universe, but all this is about looking at the goal, the end. We all vaguely struggle towards it, but isn’t it vital to know where we are headed?
So if worth can be reduced to the end goal of meaning, surely we need to spend a lot of our efforts exploring this meaning. What is the ultimate prize, and how can we order our lives so as to shortcut all the bullshit? To live our dreams now, don’t wait until retirement, or some vague utopian future.
By now you’re wondering what on earth has this to do with Worship. It is this –
worship = worth-ship.
The art of uncovering what is ultimately worthy. The ritual of defining and validating our value system.
All humans (and all of creation, including the famous crying rocks) are worshippers. The only question is what is the object of their Worship? Paul Tillich described “religion” as “ultimate concern”. I have always liked that. You may not call yourself religious, but you will be able to tell me what your intimate concern is. Security, wealth, being liked, fame, intellectual or artistic achievement, offspring, having fun, being appreciated, having power. That, then will be your god and the object of your sweat and devotion.
For now, lets not define who or what our god might be. Let’s take our time to do this, so that we can move toward to more worthy sense of what it is to worship. Lets re-envision worship as the ascribing of worth, and worth as the goal and object of worship.
Now comes a platitude – ooh I love using them –
If it’s worth doing, its worth doing well.
If its worth having, its worth having now.
If its worth being, we should be becoming it urgently.