On Adulation, Worship, Adoration, Veneration
By Apolinario Villalobos
To idolize, worship, adore, or venerate is to give respect and recognition to someone or something believed to be powerful and strong. History and mythology are replete with instances on this act given to idols which later have been referred to as idolatry. An “idol” is something that represents the power of what is venerated, worshipped or adored. It could be a rock, a mountain, a tree, a sculpted object, nature such as wind, fire, water, even, heavenly bodies such as sun, moon, planets, as well as, spirit of ancestor, or a living person. The manifested forms of these powers, except the last two mentioned, are considered gods or their abode, by believers. In the past, human sacrifices were offered to the gods in exchange for a favor. Today, people still make sacrifice to whoever they have faith, so that their petition will be granted.
From the aforementioned act, many occults, religions, and lately, “awakened groups”, the “new Christians”, have evolved. Remarkably, Hinduism has millions of gods, and among which are Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, Sarawati, with Ganesa as the most popular being symbolized by an elephant. Among the symbols venerated by the Hindus is the phallus or lingam, symbolizing the male sexual organ. The Ganges River in India where adherents cleanse their bodies is also given utmost veneration. Among the Chinese and Japanese, ancestor worship is very prominent. In the Philippines, natives of Davao in the past venerated Mt. Apo as the abode of Sandawa, and the early Filipinos of the north also practiced ancestor worship, aside from the sculpted “anito”.
In the Old Testament, it is implied that the God of the Israelites was a “jealous” God, as He required them to adore just Him. But despite this instruction, time and again, the chosen people went back to their idolatrous practices and the most popular among these instances, was when Moses found them to have been worshipping a golden calf in his absence. The Old Testament, also has bloody chapters on how the chosen people tried to show the heathen tribes that they have a more powerful God than what they were worshipping.
When the Spaniards came to the Philippines, they found the natives worshiping their ancestor, idols and nature. The friars then had a grand time in destroying the symbols of the natives’ faith, just as they did in South America. The friars brought with them the cross which the natives were forced to venerate as the symbol of Christianity. Idols of saints were also introduced. In one of his writings Rizal mentioned that it is better to give honor to the virtues of our ancestors whom we know, than the saints who are strangers to us. The message was in reference to the ancestor worship of ancient Filipinos vehemently criticized by the friars.
Today, “idols” and adulation take may form. For the politician, it is money and power that they adulate, so that they will do anything to have them. Of course, corruption need not be emphasized as the tool that they use. Government officials are idolized through their photos prominently displayed in offices. Heads of nations who want to be idolized perpetually, declare Martial Law to ensure a despotic and dictatorial rule, but as the saying goes, the bad does not last long, and so were the egoistic leaders.
Physical beauty and body symmetry are also idolized. Out of this adulation, beauty pageants and physique competitions have evolved. Sadly, not all attempts to be beautified and scientifically sculpted are successful due to failed operation and drug overdose.
Talents are also idolized, especially, those in the show business and music industry that gave birth to the likes of Fernando Poe, Jr., Dolphy, Nora Aunor, Pilita Corrales, Charise Pempengco. The current addition to the long list is the fanatically- followed “Kalye Serye” of Eat Bulaga, a noontime show of Channel 7, that elicited millions of tweets from all over the world. The trend has made “Al Dub” and “Yaya Dub”, the current idols of the Philippines. Other personalities in different fields of the arts such as painting, literary, and sculpture are likewise adored and their styles emulated by admirers.
The worst kind of adulation is the one which is given to oneself – an act of narcissism. Many people today, especially, those in the field of politics believe that they are the best, and that they are the only ones who can save their country from despair. In the Philippines, politicians compare themselves with their opponents to prove their point, but with the help of lewd shows and paid singers during electoral campaigns. They promise heaven and earth to those who worship them – the paid impoverished voters.
It is good to “idolize” but only the good should be emulated. Unfortunately, many are “idolizing” the bad manifestations of certain “heroes” which is the negative side of adulation. Idolatry, with reference to all that have been mentioned earlier, is practically bringing humanity back to the past, proof that it cannot be overpowered even by the modern technology. It is the innate desire of man that takes many forms, with each, coming out during certain appropriate time.