that is our shield-ring, our last stronghold;
not the barrier fells
and the totter-moss between,
but something in the hearts of men.
- rosemary sutcliff, the shield ring
Mirriam - it is always Mirriam's fault, isn't it? - wrote a post recently called "God Is Not Your Bestie," a good and all-too-brief defense of reverence in our relationship to God. In my own circles I see very little of the phenomenon that would treat God like a member of one's exclusive high-school clique, and I'm very glad for it. However, you can't very well live in this day and age without in some way coming into contact with a larger trend, of which I would argue our insipid treatment of the Most High God is but a (very telling) symptom.
For our "spiritual life" (a silly phrase, as if our "spiritual lives" were not integrally tied to our "physical lives") is not the only area lacking in proper reverence; God is not the only one or thing to which we owe more respect than we give - although He is of course the only One deserving of our all. Over the last three centuries or so we have elevated the individual and lowered the "great ones of the earth," a leveling process which has in many ways made society more pleasant and equitable, but which has also married lack of respect to great selfishness. Not to say, of course, that mankind has not always been selfish. We just happen nowadays to have a philosophy built around it.
This marriage, I would argue, has given birth to the offhandedness of modern Christianity and the want of depth in so many aspects of life. What have we done, for instance, with the ideal of friendship? Mirriam talked in her post about how we cheapen God by making Him our "bestie," but let us also talk about how we cheapen friendship with talk of "besties" at all! I would hardly hold the three (four? D'Artagnan is forever complicating matters) musketeers up as models to be emulated, but at least Dumas was able to present a smashing good picture of loyalty in his D'Artagnan romances. Sutcliff does much the same thing, though in a quieter way, and captures also some of the beauty of romantic love - which cannot be said of Dumas and can rarely be said of professing Christians.
There are things in life worthy of respect, even of reverence, and we too often miss the mark. When God has instituted something beautiful as part of the revelation of His own Beauty, we ought to do our darnedest to capture it in as much of its glory and dignity as we are able. Dumas and Sutcliff got it right. Should we not rival unbelievers in our appreciation for the high things of the world, in our lives and consequently in our writing as well?