The Super Bowl is America wrapped up in 482 hours of pregame, a one-hour halftime show, a 40-minute power outage and four hours of actual game. It is the largest worship gathering of the year, as 100 million people watch some of the most gifted athletes in the world. Each boy and girl wishes he or she could grow up to be in the Super Bowl, and every man and woman wonders what he or she would do with Ray Lewis’ paycheck. In between the cheers and the chips, we are glued to advertisements promising the missing link in our lives. “Iron Man 3,” Budweiser, Go Daddy domain names, Doritos, Pepsi and Chevy. I love Doritos, but are they the key to happiness? More like the key to getting orange fingerprints on my white shirt.
The promise of a better life is only a purchase, relationship or degree away. This, of course, is not quarantined to Super Bowl Sunday; it’s just the culmination of the other 364 days of the year.
In his book “Counterfeit Gods,” Timothy Keller does a masterful job of using people from Nietzsche to Naaman to intelligently and convincingly dissect the major themes that are promised to be the key to fulfillment: money, sex, power and stuff.
Keller doesn’t take the caveman gnostic approach and simplistically say, “Stuff bad, God good.” Instead, he is able to tap into the allure of the drive for more money, more sex and more power, and carry it out to its logical conclusion. By being honest with the allure (and even the fact that God says money, sex and power are good if used in the proper way), but also being straightforward with the flaws, he gives us a book that can be defended logically, emotionally and biblically. “Counterfeit Gods” reads much less like a Sunday school scolding and more like a field guide to freedom by leaving the weak counterfeit gods of money, sex and power behind.
If you, like me, have bought into the lie that if I just made more, had more or controlled more, my life would be more, Timothy Keller offers another way, a better way.
• Timothy Keller’s “Counterfeit Gods” was published by Dutton in 2009 and republished in paperback by Riverhead Press in 2011.
• Dylan Does works for Inklings Bookshop. He and other Inklings staffers review books in this space each week.