Because Idolatry has never really been about the worship of stone and wood, the mere prohibition of graven images is not enough to prevent idols from usurping God’s place in the lives of the faithful. According to Bruce Ellis Benson, a professor of philosophy at Wheaton (Illinois) College, the most popular idols today are ideologies—conceptual idols, human creations passed off as divine and thus beyond question or challenge.
Like Merold Westphal and John Caputo, Benson sees French postmodernists as iconoclastic, not nihilistic, voices. He examines Friedrich Nietzsche, Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Marion (with strong back-up analyses of Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger and Emmanuel Levinas) as voices that may make more transparent, and thus less seductive, the self-serving, self-deifying ideologies that often usurp God’s place.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).