What if someone filled up the holes in the bowling balls and greased up the floors at your local bowling ally? That would be a game-changer! That’s what is happening today in our culture—figuratively speaking. Our ability to handle our heritage and function effectively in American society is being undermined by a self-centered belief-system that removes all handles with which to grasp reality and wipes out all footholds as a culture. It’s called relativism.
Let’s define our terms:
Heritage: A set of values, virtues, memories and traditions that can be inherited or carried from one generation to the next.
Relativism: A disbelief that there are absolute values, virtues or truths and a belief that all points of view are equally valid (or invalid) and all values, virtues, cultures and religions are fungible. Relativism is a hard line denial that there are hard lines. Reality is just a personal perception.
Reading Bible stories to children regularly is a heritage handle. Visiting a historical site or museum is too. Celebrations of Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas are excellent heritage handles. That goes for the Fourth of July, Memorial Day and more. A day at the ball park is a small heritage handle. Worshipping God regularly is a huge one. Sunday School may be the best handle of all, if we would just get a grip on it. Family devotions and traditions are heritage handles. Home-schooling (whether you send you children to a school or not) is too. Educational vacations can improve your grip on our heritage. Weddings and funerals, performed faithfully, can too. Whatever helps you build a legacy and carry your heritage to others is a heritage handle.
Sadly, America’s heritage handles are being dismantled much the same way that the noses of many ancient sculptures were knocked off by ancient iconoclasts who were too easily offended. We have empowered teachers, pundits and leaders who turn up their own proud noses to the past as a resource for anything that could help us find a better future. This is foolish. Need examples?
We have replaced Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays with some vague tribute to all presidents. We are re-defining marriage and family to include whatever any powerful political lobby group wants it to be (relativists love the word “whatever”). We ban the reasonable use of valid identification when voting (relativists eschew clarity). We prohibit the phrase “Merry Christmas” from the mouths of teachers at public schools. We ban public expressions of Christian faith but we legislate that school textbooks must promote alternative sexual agendas. It is ironic that relativists often lead like totalitarians. We boil everything down to race-gender-class orientations and ignore history, tradition, principle and faith. Thus, we are slipping and sliding all over the national landscape and getting nowhere fast.
A healthy heritage is more like a torch than luggage. The younger generation should not be asked to carry all the baggage that their parents lugged around. However, the torches of faith, freedom and family can brighten our path into the future and our children need them desperately. A torch needs a handle so we can carry the flame without touching it. Likewise, a healthy heritage needs handles so we can carry it safely across treacherous generational gaps. If one generation lets it go, it is gone.
For lack of handles, we are passing precious heritages by rather than passing them on. Our Christian heritage is sliding into irrelevance. The church is losing her grip on the gospel. Our culture is losing its handle on family formation. America is losing her grasp on her identity. We passively rely on television, movies, popular music, celebrities and the media to construct (actually, deconstruct) our children’s worldview and values. It’s time to get a grip on our beloved heritage and carry it forward faithfully.
The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.