May 27, 2013
Memorial Day is a missed opportunity.
Thank God for a day focused on the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives in battle, to protect the United States of America. They didn ’t die for real estate; they died for the values that set the nation apart at inception. Looking backward – remembering the fallen heroes – is crucial… but, looking forward – and remembering what they died to protect – is also mission-critical.
There is a split in America today. Some are intent on protecting the timeless qualities and eternal verities that are our history; while others are working to promote a new version of America, with a belief structure that bears little or no resemblance to who we were, just a generation or two ago. Who will win?
The struggle between those two images of America ’s future is the unrelenting political scenario of the 21st Century. Fiscal cliffs and Beltway leaks are simply the minor skirmishes giving face to the larger issue. The divide between the sides is no longer depicted in the “other side of the aisle” verbiage of a simpler past; the chasm is too broad for brides of compromise to cross.
If that describes modern politics, it also reflects contemporary religion. Though less people bother to attend Sunday morning gatherings at a church, the conflicts concerning faith have become daily headlines, both nationally and internationally. Jihad and terror find their source in the collision of cultures founded on historic religious systems, but the infighting among the people who would seem to claim a common spiritual heritage is also accelerating. What ’s going on?
This morning ’s Los Angeles Times had a front-line report, under the headline: “Liberal in a National Pulpit.” The article spanned two pages, and represented the celebration of “The Very Reverend” Gary Hall ’s journey to the role of dean at the Washington National Cathedral, the ionic Episcopal edifice where American royalty conducts the services connected with life and death.
The article follows Hall from his days as “a bearded young comedy writer espousing progressive views in Hollywood in the early 1970s” to his highly visible and influential current position, leading the activities within the most visited building within the denomination ’s real estate portfolio.
“In Hall ’s own life, politics preceded religion,” according to the report. His interest in religion grew out of his involvement in the anti-war movement during his freshman year at Yale University. Driven by his commitment to policies deemed liberal, he found a future in ministry to be a powerful point of engagement to offer support to the causes he deemed worthy of his life ’s work. A “calling?”
In March, he spoke to the crowds in front of the US Supreme Court as the nine justices heard arguments concerning the protection of marriage between a man and a woman. He says that “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality,” and that “marriage is evolving” beyond the biblical models.
I serve leaders whose longtime involvement in notable church systems has placed them in congregations caught up in battles where modernity is fighting a take-no-prisoners strategy against historic biblical truth. Local church leaders are finding themselves locked at impasse with hierarchies that are becoming more culturally relevant than biblically adherent. Many are abandoning the Christian standards that have become an out-of-date museum curiosity to a culture hell-bent on upending the moral boundaries set forth by the Eternal God.
“Fight the good fight” is more than a euphemism; it is also a battle-cry for the heroes who carry Bibles instead of rifles, and are loaded with beliefs instead of bullets. Memorial Day assumes that bravery – taken to the point of sacrificing self-interest – was a wise commitment that preserved the Republic. We honor those who serve, fight – and have died – to defend the Constitution.
I want to be among the heroes of our era, who are willing to be brave – to the point of sacrificing self-interest – to preserve the integrity of the Bible, God ’s everlasting truth.
Honoring the Brave
May 27, 2013