Friday, October 4, 2013

Death of History

File:The Anatomy Lesson.jpg

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, there was a place where we did not regard fiction as something that materialized out of some inner self. Instead, she was seen as the product of learning, life experience, and reason. She grew wise and fruitful, taught by her ancestors. But no longer. Instead fiction became a work of the inner genius, and so she had no need of learning. But what she didn't know, was that without learning,  she cut herself off from the past, and so had no idea what the great writers who came before actually wrote.

We in the west are very future oriented. The inexorable, incessant advance of technology compels us to look ahead, not behind. The media ingrained the idea of a future Utopia so firmly in our minds, that the idea of searching in the past for any wisdom seems ludicrous. The past was the land of uneducated barbarians and illiterate brutes; real art, the media says, is found in the contemporary, the shiny, and the modern.

Now, the only time we look back is to try to peer into the past like it is a looking glass. We take antique authors who seem to have 'modern' ideals, celebrate them as progressives (even though almost all of them are very different from a modern mindset) and ignore anything to the contrary.

Let me be really clear here. The chronological snobbery of our culture runs deep. Although it has it's roots in secularism, it infested Christianity as well, taking a new form in virulent anti-traditionalism. For some odd reason, evangelical protestants, particularly American evangelical protestants, claim that by being anti traditional, they are acting on the ideas of the Reformers or the Founding Fathers. As they have not studied tradition, they usually don't know that nothing could be further from the truth. Both the Reformers and the Founding Fathers were avid students of history and tradition. They understood that the past holds the examples that are needed to build the future.

We as writers and as Christians need to develop a healthy respect for history and the past and realize its profound importance. Those that came before make who we are now. Alright now, end history rant. I digress

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