Hobby Or Idol? You Decide
By Michael S. Bauml
For a large portion of my life, I collected comic books, hence my email
name: collector2630. As a young boy, each week I would take my allowance, walk a couple of
blocks to the drug store, and select my treasures. I was enamored with Spiderman,
Daredevil, and the X-men decades before they were made household names by the current set
As time went by my collection became increasingly complex. Instead of
reading my comics and throwing them into a box, now it was acid-free storage boxes, archive
quality backing boards, sorting, inventory, collector's price guides, etc. I needed an
entire room for my collection, which had approached 20,000 comics. What had began over
40 years ago as a childhood fascination had taken on a life of its own.
In part due to the space taken up and the costs involved, my wife began
urging me to get rid of some of my books. After repeated attempts on her part, I
reluctantly started to sell some of the books I really didn't want on EBay: the online
As is often the case if you hang around at St. Luke's long enough you
will learn something about your faith that makes you re-evaluate your life. This time my
attention was turned to my comic collection. I began to think about my collection and what
it represented in terms of being a Christian. I was possessing "things" and giving them
added importance and consequently they were in turn "possessing" me. Resources and time
that could be put to better use by helping the poor and the church were being used to sort
and store and accumulate more. Also I was hoarding these comics so I could take pride in
the fact that I owned them and allowed no one else to enjoy them. More importantly, they
were separating me from Our Lord.
I committed myself to sell some of the better books in my collection
instead of just my castoffs but I had not yet realized the extent to which my collection
had control over me. The turning point in my mind came when I decided to sell one of my
most prized books, Daredevil #1. It took me several attempts to actually list this
30-year-old book for sale and I had to force myself to do it. It was then that it came to
me that in many ways I had made an idol out of my collection. At this point I decided to
sell my entire collection.
According to Webster's Dictionary, an idol is a representation or symbol
of an object of worship or an object of extreme devotion. Yet in a broader sense an idol
can be viewed as someone or something in which we place more importance than we do in Our
Lord. If something in our life takes us away from our attending church services, helping
the poor, contemplating God, doing Christian works, or from our prayer it could be
considered an idol.
Scripture is very clear on what our position on idols should be; "and
they served idols, whereof Jehovah had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing."
(2Kings 17:12) "And served their idols, Which became a snare unto them."(Psalm 106: 36)
"`My' little children, guard yourselves from idols."(1 John 5:21)
Idols come in many shapes and forms. Drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling,
and money are obvious ones, but many are much more subtle. Our jobs, our homes, our
health, sports, television, movies, and food are some examples of things that we obsess
about to the point that they become idols. The list goes on and on.
Children's sporting and craft activities can be double trouble. We get
so wrapped up in their games and concerts that we allow them to miss church services and
in addition to our own obsessions with their success incorrectly teach them that their
activities come before God. I know, as I have been guilty of this as well.
The title of a very popular TV show in particular bothers me, namely
"American Idol". While I have no problem with musical performers, this show's title
implies we should idolize them. I propose that we should have Christ as our "American
Am I saying that we can have no activities, hobbies, or interests other
than God and the church? No, although I believe that many of the saints might have felt
exactly that. After all it is hard to Love your God with all your mind and body and soul
when your interests are elsewhere. What I am saying is that we must evaluate our
priorities and strive to keep our focus on God above all else.
As I write this article, my collection has gone from 20,000 books to 100
books, which I have yet to sell. I learned that the "things" that I placed so high a value
on turned out not to be worth as much to others as I thought. They became less and less
important to me and as time went on I developed a sense of freedom as if a burden had been
During this Lenten season as we approach Pascha, we are called to
repentance and self-inspection so that we may draw nearer to God. Let us examine our
lives and the things, which are important to us and decide if they are simply passing
interests or if they might be considered idols and strive to remove all idols from our