Friday, October 31, 2008

we are who they were

have you ever wondered why we do the things we do? maybe you and me individually, maybe our entire culture today? why are we like this?
can we - individually or as a whole culture - develop independently of and differently than those who have lived before us?

i've come to be convinced that the understanding of current times, at least in a very large way, lies in the past. the study of history illuminates today with a clarity and wonder that cannot be otherwise imagined. the more history i learn, the more i understand about today, my culture, myself. i make no exaggerations. then was another time, another place, another culture. but we would not be who we are without the ideas, expectations and behaviors set in place by those very long ago. we are who they were.

many of us believe we are independent thinkers (which, ironically, is an idea given to us by some who lived before we did). but, how we think is in a very large way determined by the history of older civilizations. the way of thinking in thirteenth-century French romances has bled into your mind whether you've ever read Lancelot stories, and the influence of ancient sages like Plato - removed from us by miles and millenia - permeates our schools, churches, families, and deepest perceptions. ever read any Shakespeare? even if you hadn't, you've used the words and phrases and metaphors he invented. the very language we speak, our tool of fundamental communication, is a product of stone-age nomads, Roman military maneuvers and road-builders, and rosters of warriors, crusaders, emperors, despots. the way our classrooms are set up - the very concepts of teachers, students and exams - is a result of decisions and controversies made by pompous theologians and traveling humanists during the renaissance and the reformation. and the ideals of freedom we hold so dear, often as dear as our faith? they showed up in the sixteenth century, in books by bands of enlightened rebels usurping the Christian conviction that God raises and removes kings.

my friends, we - you, me, our culture, many cultures - are a conglomeration of them - the ancients, the rebels, the teachers and the poets.

yes, you and i carry the marks of poets and writers in our minds indelibly stamped in our very cores. and if there is one thing i've learned in my literature and history studies, it's that those who write are the tools of radical change throughout history. the written word has the potential to become immortal.

since the lives and texts of ancient times affect us so strongly, so also will our lives and ideas affect those far after us. the postmodernist culture is the forerunner for another kind of culture, whether or not they will know about how postmodernism worked. those who write the books today will be history that is studied and embedded in peoples' worldviews. the way our churches work, what our priorities are and how we influence our surroundings, will be the mark left on future christians and pagans - even if they didn't learn history about us. whether or not they will know about us (perhaps they, too, will be mad with the idea that they are independent), they will be patchworks of all that have come and gone - of our culture, of you and me, who are ourselves blends of ancient expressions.

it's something to think about.


At Thursday, December 02, 2010 9:45:00 PM, Blogger Luv sayeth thus:

love your blog! Please come visit mine!


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