A few years ago in a liberal Episcopal church the sermon began, “Today I’m going to talk about the elephant in the room.” I wondered which elephant — Divorce, “vice,” materialism, hedonism? Pride, envy, anger, acedia? There are a lot of elephants, and one might miss the biggest, especially if one were sitting right on top of it, secure in one’s howdah, especially if one were me.
It was none of these. The elephant in the room was racism, the priest said. I thought, “Pretty sure that’s not the elephant,” but having heard that sermon several (dozen) times at several different churches, I tuned out and looked at the statues and stained glass. They date from maybe the late 1800s, and are edifying in their own right. That particular preacher has moved on. As far as I know the statuary and glass is all still there.
Screwtape writes to Wormwood,
“The use of Fashions in thought is to distract the attention of men from their real dangers. We direct the fashionable outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is least in danger and fix its approval on the virtue nearest to that vice which we are trying to make endemic. The game is to have them all running around with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under.” — The Screwtape Letters, in The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics, page 258 by C.S. Lewis, seen here
Whatever it is, if every preacher in the land is condemning it from the pulpit, it’s not our besetting sin.