It's been great to hear the stories of Elijah in the readings this week. Yesterday we heard about his contest against the 450 prophets of Baal. Our Old Testament professor used to tell us to read these stories through the lens of the "emerging monotheism" of Israel. Struggles between the prophets of YHWH and the prophets of other gods represent Israel's struggle to come to firm adherence to the one God. I remember writing a paper I called "Elijah Slays the Prophets of Baal: Model for Ministry?" The title was probably the best part.
If this struggle seems foreign to our time, think again. Monotheism is still struggling to emerge in history. We still sacrifice our time, energy, and love, even our loved ones, to other gods. Nowadays these other gods are not the Baal or Astarte that the Israelites struggled with, but the gods of wealth, celebrity, and security. Think how many young people have been sacrificed in Iraq on the altar of the high god we call "national security" and the "american way of life."