Facebook fluff reserved for cute kittens, playful puppies and beautiful babies ! Women – never men – use the epithet to talk among themselves about clothes, or even about a member of the opposite persuasion, oozing with sex-appeal. We say that all these things and persons are worthy of adoration but of course they aren’t. Strictly speaking, the word means “to worship as divine”, “to idolize”. Religious people practice adoration but never seem to realize just how irrational it is. Nothing, no one, is worthy of worship.
We express respect in all sorts of ways : silence, bowed heads, smart, stiff military salutes, the clicking of Teutonic heels, making the upper part of Japanese bodies horizontal, the doffing of headwear. Rare today, the curtsy or the full body-bow or even one-kneed kneeling were marks of respect reserved for greeting royalty. No one kisses the Pope’s slipper any more, though His Holiness has never complained, like Roger Dangerfield, “I don’t get no respect !”.
So why do believers kneel in churches or prostrate themselves entirely in mosques ? Why do Orthodox Jews rock back and forth as they recite their prayers at the Wailing Wall ? Why do they all keep telling God they adore Him ? “O Come All Ye Faithful . . . Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord !” The baby Jesus is not only cuddly and adorable like every newborn, but He is the Lord, the Son of God, literally adorable because divine. His Father’s Ten Commandments begin with two insisting that we adore no other gods besides Him, nor even make a graven image of them, let alone “bow down and serve them” : “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” His “Chosen People” believed what the man Moses had made up on the mountain, took his commandments as the words of God, and have been frightened into adoring Him ever since.
It is extraordinary – though we are so accustomed to it that we never think of it – that rational human beings could not only be cowed into believing that such a God exists, but that they should reserve for Him unique marks of respect and reverence. We bow, kneel and prostrate ourselves : we make ourselves SMALL to proclaim that God is GREAT ! Or, maybe, as when bullets start flying around us, we duck for cover, to reduce the surface area of the targets we have become; God, divinely fast on the draw, could zap us on the spot. In both cases we act out of fear, not love. No one is afraid of the Queen of England. Her subjects (apart from some descendants of colonial Irish rebels . . .) love her, acclaim her in the streets, bow or curtsy if they have the privilege of meeting her. They do not adore her.
Believers adore the object of their primitive myths, a non-existent No Body dreamt up by hallucinating prophets, soothsayers and witch-doctors. Extraterrestrials, if ever they land on our planet, will quickly conclude that we are stark raving mad.