Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The sacred and the profane

As I sit writing this post, the Iranian President Ahmadinejad has been visiting New York. He has spoken at both the UN and at Columbia University. He also requested a tour of Ground Zero, the former site of the World Trade Center. There has been no little controversy about this, as many have noted the irony of a prestigious American university providing a platform for a man who vows "to wipe Israel off the map" and leads Iranian crowds in chanting "Death to America!" There has been even more controversy over the idea of this fellow visiting what has been described as "hallowed ground," especially since it would surprise no one to find that Ahmadinejad's government either directly or through its allies and surrogates funded the 9/11 operation.

Now while on a personal level, I find myself outraged that this avowed enemy of the United States is even allowed within our borders, my reason for bringing it up has little to do with politics generally or this particular crazy Islamist specifically. No, I mention it only because I think it illustrates our somewhat confused priorities.

Now I am not saying that national security and the threat from people like Mr. A above aren't real or aren't to be taken seriously. They are both more real and more serious than most of us would like to really think for very long about. But I also think it's interesting that while we are justifiably outraged by what we see as the profanation of a sacred place (Ground Zero), we are seldom anything other than simply bored when the profane intrudes upon what should be the spaced space of our own hearts and lives. I fear sometimes that I have become so used to seeing God as gracious that I no longer worry when I sin or even when I sin in the same way repeatedly. And while God is far, far more gracious than I can begin to fathom, he remains the thrice-holy God of Isaiah's vision. And why if I know these things am I not outraged at what I allow into the place in which the Spirit of Christ dwells?

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