The Target dollar zone destroys budgets, but it also gives a window of insight into our culture. As a mother with the love language of gifts whose children are all-too-ready to receive gifts, I am drawn to the Target dollar zone like a moth to a flame. Recently, while the magnet was doing its work pulling me in, I saw something that caught my eye and saddened my soul: an entire kids’ section devoted to Zodiac symbols.
Recently, at our local Starbucks, a poster proudly displaying a fusion of Astrology and Eastern tradition animal signs caught my eye. Syncretism, or the blending and combining together of various beliefs or practices, at its finest.
What I found most alarming was the subtle bleeding of such beliefs into the common spaces and places. Well-intended people could easily purchase a cute item and even wear it proudly without having any idea the glacial belief systems under the surface.
As such, I found my heart thinking on Astrology and how I, as a believer and follower of Christ and His way, should respond to the slow infiltration of astrology into our culture.
Astrology, the study of the movements of celestial objects for the means of divining and understanding human affairs, has been present in the earliest civilizations in Mesopotamia, in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, as well as in the earliest Eastern traditions. As a large umbrella term, astrology includes a wide variety of varying practices including tarot cards, the zodiac signs and horoscopes.
This stuff sounds like ancient history to me; however, living on the West Coast for over six years now, I am shocked by the seemingly ubiquitous nature of palm readers, tarot cards, and zodiac interest.
For the first time in my life, I have an unbelieving acquaintance who earnestly believes in astrological signs. During a conversation about parenting, she brought up her child’s sign and how she saw that sign played out in her life daily.
At the time, I was shocked and unsure how to proceed in our conversation. However, now that I have thought about it, I wish I would been quick to enter the conversation more deeply rather than avoid it.
It should not surprise us that astrology seems to be nearly as old as humanity. In the Fall of man, when Adam and Eve chose to eat from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil, they opened Pandora’s box, quite literally. In the severing of mankind from the intimate, informing and transforming vital relationship to God, the Creator, this act began the human search for meaning apart from God.
Astrology gets human eyes and minds (and arguably souls) to look up beyond the right here and right now. It lifts hungry and searching eyes to the skies, but it stops short by not begging them to look beyond the canvas of creation back to the knowable Creator of such a masterpiece.
I would have loved to have pointed out how, as a Christian, I too, tend to look for a greater power to explain my life and give it order and shape and boundaries. I would have asked her how she felt about an impersonal power having such a deep effect upon the daily life of her precious daughter. I would also have shared that I believe astrology fails not because it goes too far, but because it does not go far enough.
I believe that the younger generations have been raised in such a vacuum of truth and in an endless sea of isolated truths. They have not been connected to history or the greater context of the world. As such, they are hungry for truth that has its roots back in human history. As such, it is no wonder that interest in astrology as a legitimate source of truth and inspiration is making a comeback.
I would share with my friend that I feel her deep hunger to be anchored into the deep layers of human history, but I would also challenge her that she is not going deep enough into history. I would tell her that not only is Christianity deeply anchored in history, but that it is a faith system anchored in the time-before-time when the God who made the stars also made humans.
In a postmodern and largely post-christian West Coast culture, I am learning to interact with thought and belief systems that I have previously thought to be things of the past, outdated old superstitions covered in cob webs.
As hungry humans search through the attics of human history for something to give their lives meaning, we would do well to learn how to winsomely interact with ancient belief systems making a comeback.
As Paul spoke to the men in Athens, who like my friend were looking for answers in stars and such, we too can interact with those who are blindly grasping at truth by pointing them to the One in whom we live and move and have our being.
So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since He himself gives to all men life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way to Him and find HIm. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us. Acts 17: 22-27.
Thankfully, the gospel does not expire and offers us the deepest answers to every human legitimate longing of the human heart.