In a recent discussion about Catholicism, someone told me that she disagrees with the position of the Virgin Mary in Catholicism because “God does not share His glory,” and to back that up there’s a passage in Isaiah where God says something to that effect. From curiosity, I googled that exact phrase and came up with about 26,000 hits (well, now 26,001 because I posted it too) so I assume it’s fairly common.
I plugged this concept into my “God as an author” model.
Let’s say you meet your favorite author. You’ve read all his books and you love several of his characters; you’ve written fanfic and you follow his blog and you read anything about him you can get your hands on. Finally you’re face to face, and you say, “Mr. Smith, you are the best author ever!”
Mr. Smith says, “Why, thank you!”
You go on, “I love everything you’ve ever written! It’s awesome! It’s the best writing ever!”
Now Mr. Smith says, “What was your favorite book?”
You reply, “Oh, I don’t want to sully my praise by talking about your books. I just want to keep telling you what a grand writer you are, and how wonderfully you use nouns and verbs, and how skillfully you employ your adjectives.”
Mr. Smith says, “Oh, okay. What was your favorite sentence?”
You say, “It would only detract from your brilliance as a writer to discuss your best sentences.”
If you’re a writer yourself, you already want to strangle this theoretical fan. I think “God does not share his glory,” when used as a blunt object to prevent people from honoring the saints, does something similar. Humankind (in the Christian and Jewish worldview) is the pinnacle of material creation. We are placed a little less than the angels and told to be stewards over the earth.
The “no sharing glory” crowd would seem to say it’s okay to praise a flower, but not a human being, even though Jesus says a human being is worth more than many flowers.
God made us. God isn’t insecure. I think God likes it when we recognize the beauty and the cleverness and the sweetness of what He made. It’s okay to talk about it. It’s okay to tell Him about it. Because just as praising the book is indirectly praising the writer, isn’t praising the created thing a way of praising the creator?
What author wouldn’t want you to sit down with him and say, “When Raphael had to make that choice, my heart was in my throat.Later on, when I faced that kind of choice, I remembered what he did, and I was able to follow through too”?
God made humans to be in a community. It’s okay to honor one another, even others from long ago, as long as we know who gave us the things we’re honoring in the first place.