All posts by William H. “Bill” Hicks

William H. “Bill” Hicks is a graduate of Wesleyan U. (BA, Religion, 1971) and holds a Masters in Public Health from the U. of Oklahoma College of Public Health (1973). He grew up in Harlem, NY, and spent most of his professional life in the public health arena including policy research and analysis, health systems planning, and health facility administration. Licensed in Oklahoma to preach the Gospel in 1971, Bill writes extensively on Christian topics. He lives in Chattanooga, TN, with former District Public Defender Ardena Garth Hicks, his wife of 26 years, and his daughters, Rachel (BA, U. of Memphis magna cum laude) and Sarah (Global Scholar, U. of Tulsa).

Today’s Idolatry of Symbols – by William Hicks

This essay is written to address how we have devolved into a form of idolatry through the proliferation and use of symbols. Symbols are used to evoke a set of behavioral expectations to which we are beholden to subscribe if we are to be deemed acceptable by others. Symbols are all too often the proxies used to substitute for meaningful interaction and relationship. They are designed to reduce fear and risk, but they often mitigate against the courage necessary to relate meaningfully to each other.

For thousands of years, we have lived our lives largely in response to symbols- religious, political, social, natural- to the point today that we substitute symbols for relationship substance. We think because someone wears a cross he must be a Christian or a hijab she must be a Muslim, or emblazon their clothing with the American flag they must be a patriot. Symbols govern our expectations of what to anticipate in the behavior of others but this can be confusing, and often misleading.

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