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Re: Sacrificing to standards

>I was always under the impression that the belief was that legionnaries
sacrificed *before* their standards, not *to* their standards (the
standard being in the middle of the encampment), but that to any onlooker
this might be perceived as worship to the standard itself.< [M.E.M. Wood]

Me too!  Of course, anthropologists will point out with some justification
that the standard with its eagle can be a hold-over from prehistoric primitive
totemic systems, where indeed the figure on the totem pole does represent the
animal that is the trial god.

But M.E. Wood is right about the "appearance" of the thing.  I have encountered
many gentiles who, having attended a synagogue service and observed the respect
accorded to scrolls of the Torah in procession  round the sanctuary, as well as
the fact that they are housed in an  Ark that forms the centerpiece of the
Eastern wall towards which the congregation faces in prayer, have simply
assumed that the Jews "worship" the Torah.   They are drawn to this conclusion
by the absence of other obvious candidates for adoration -- ikon, statue, or
cross,  as is customary in churches - plus the assumption that there has to be
SOME concrete representation of  an object of worship!

However, in all cases, from the totem pole to the American flag, what is being
worshipped is the idea BEHIND the image, not the image itself.  It is only the
polemics of the Bible, inveighing against idols of silver and gold, wood an
stone, that has led us moderns  to assume that the representation itself was
the object of worship -- though no doubt in most times and places the ignorant
populace have ascribed more power to the concrete object than the system itself

Judith Romney Wegner
Connecticut College