Rabbi Solomon, Imam Kabir and Reverend Jones were playing dominoes when the discussion of idols came up. It soon became clear that the Reverend was using the word to refer to non-Christian religious images, the Rabbi was using it to refer to non-Jewish images, and the Imam to non-Islamic ones.

“This is interesting,” said the Imam, “We are acting like only people outside our own faith can be idolaters, when all of our scriptures say that any image of God is an idol!” The Rabbi nodded.

“Texas Buddha travels the world to collect religion icons, we should ask him what his definition of an idol is,” said Reverend Jones, who called TB and repeated his answer to the others.

“ To me, religion is the art of putting life together inspite its infinite mystery and inspite of our own irrational animal consciousness. “Idolatry” is when the art of religion replaces actually living. Religion can easily become like a grandfather clock that is so revered no one expects it to keep time. So beliefs have become idols when they overtake sight. Statues become idols when they overtake our relationships with real people. Rules have become idols when they overtake personal responsibility. Rituals have become idols when they overtake creativity. All of us can easily spot the idolatry of others, but few can tell when we have turned our own religion into an idol.

“Good religion is the faith behind our science, the hope behind our ethics, the love behind our art. Idolatry is when we have replaced our eyes with a creed, our heart with a ritual, or our conscience with a rule.”