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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Our Need For The Sacred

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The host has made the point for several days that the entire Gold Star Family episode is dangerous territory.  And as this story has grown, and grown, and grown – it has turned extraordinarily ugly.  However, General Kelly’s Thursday presser invoked the word “sacred,” and that deserves commentary.  In its simplest form, to hold something “sacred” simply means to regard it with reverence.  The general has one heck of a point, in the modern age we do not seem to revere much of anything.  Everything is subject to our taste, our desire, our agenda.

It is most tempting to illustrate these concepts in the events at hand, but the situation is so inflamed that any such effort would only stoke the fire.  Rather I’d like to focus on this observation by General Kelly:

You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases. Life — the dignity of life — is sacred. That’s gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well.

That last sentence is a gut-wrencher.  Let’s be honest, whenever we hear the word “sacred” religious imagery comes to mind even if it is being used in a secular context, and has we have observed it does have secular meaning.  The idea of religion stripped of sacredness creates a shutter, and yet as I consider the general’s words, I see his point.  There was a time when those with religion were at least respected by those that did not have it.  But that certainly is not true anymore, those of us that hold to religion are held in ridicule if not contempt by some.  Yet if one considers history that state of affairs is not that unusual.  Even if one simply considers the entire contemporary world, it is not that unusual.  The shudder that I experienced came from a different place.

I wonder if modern American Christianity generally considers itself sacred in any fashion?

Mainline Protestants value “inclusiveness” to the extent that they are willing to jettison standards of Christian behavior that have existed since the church began, and in its antecedents.  Evangelical Protestants value “accessibility” at such levels that it is often difficult to tell the difference between a church service and a rock concert.  It seems that only Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy hold to any concept of sacredness.  DISCLAIMER: there are always exceptions to generalizations as broad as those I just made.

I am not surprised we are not viewed with respect when we ourselves do not acknowledge that the thing we are about is higher or better than ourselves.  The opposite of “sacred” is “profane,” meaning “common or vulgar.”  I reflect on so many churches I have visited that worked to be as common as possible and from that is my shudder born.  There is nothing common about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

General Kelly’s observation that religion is no longer viewed as sacred was dead on, and I fear the fault for that state of affairs belongs to those of us that should understand sacredness more than most.


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