Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Rejecting and despising our roots. . .

There was a time in which age was honored and history was our first teacher.  This was not always good as age does not always bestow wisdom nor is history always the domain of our greatest virtue.  We, however, live in a time in which age makes a person and his or her judgment suspect and history is rejected almost out of hand.  I see not much danger that youth will defer automatically to age or that history will define what we think or esteem today.  What I do find is a great danger for the wisdom of age to be lost in a fool's quest to be ever young and for our past to be despised and rejected out of hand.  Don't believe me?  Spend some time on almost any university campus.  Then tell me I am wrong.

I am not at all suggesting that everything in our past is worthy of praise.  Examples abound of our shame over our past and these ought to be challenged and rejected.  That said, we do not spend much time sifting through our past to distinguish the good from the bad.  We have chosen instead to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  History has become itself our shame and embarrassment.  So instead of spending our time looking carefully at the past and discerning what is good and worthy and what is not, we worry about renaming old institutions once dedicated to the memory of people who turned out to be flawed.  Are we surprised by this?  Is it impossible for us to believe that individuals of great wisdom, intellect, and accomplishment also owned slaves?  Does one sin render them ineligible as teachers from whom we might learn?  Note I am not at all suggesting that slavery was anything but a blight upon our national conscience then and now.  That said, however, how does it advance the cause of learning and make us wise to smear these giants of our past and silence their wisdom to hear only their foolishness, folly, and faults?

We have decided with Henry Ford that history is bunk.  So we spend our days distancing ourselves from our past.  Instead of growing in wisdom or becoming greater intellects, instead we have become snobs who insist that we know best about everything, far better than those who lived before us.  We do this by insisting that the constitution must be a living document into which we read our own values and by ignoring what the words actually mean or the founders intended.  We do this by standing as the skeptic over history wondering whether Lincoln was really the larger than life president who began our rescue from slavery's shame or whether the Jesus of history was anything like the Jesus of Scripture.  It is the same presumption that we know better today and can judge more clearly the past (a judgement which seems designed to do little more than raise questions and doubts).

We have become as a nation and a culture (perhaps a world) like those who received the financial legacy of our forbearers, whose first priority in spending the money we inherited was to taint that money by rejecting those who made it.  Or perhaps we are like the nouveau riche who spend our money trying to forget that we were once Rednecks.  Think here how those who disagreed or still disagree with certain political viewpoints are routinely disdained as ignorant, bigoted, misogynistic, homophobic, religious fools.  Again, I am not at all suggesting that there none of these folks around us but challenging the ideas is different than smearing the proponents of those ideas.

As I write this, our nation stands ever divided between the elite class who believe they know better than anyone else and others who feel they have no voice.  At the same time, the religious truths and values that were mainstream in our nation and culture only a generation or two ago have now become a pariah in the same land.  As you read this, we have not only redefined marriage and family, we find marriage not only less attractive but less successful and families weaker than ever before.  We laud desire and insist that self-control is either impossible or evil -- then we wonder why people give into baser desires and whose exploits fill the news.

The sad truth is that for all the money we have poured into schools and for all the new teaching methods we have invented, our children know less in university than they once know in junior high (as it was once called).  For all the books that have been published, we read throw away literature that is a splash in the pan while we have no idea what the great books of the past actually say.  For all that technology and the internet has provided, we ended up with social media, porn, and fake news as the shining achievements of our time.

I suggest that this has happened because we have glorified youth and all things new and disdain age and the wisdom of the past.  I suggest that this has happened because we are less literate than those who went before us and have forgotten grammar, how to think, and how to really debate ideas.  I suggest that this is become we have made the individual so sacred that we don't know how to have community (at least one larger than those who think like us).  I suggest that this has happened because we no longer value the pursuit of history or spend time invested in carefully sifting through that history.  I suggest that this is because we no longer believe in objective truth and therefore reject any Christianity which presumes the Word yesterday, today, and forever the same.  If we want to change the future, we must deal with these flawed choices.


Kirk Skeptic said...

Before we can deal with the bad choices we must deal with the false presuppositions and wordlview from which these bad decisions are derived.

Carl Vehse said...

Just curious. Why is a picture of Albert Einstein included with an article about history and historical roots?

John Joseph Flanagan said...

I think the problem is that Mankind is unable and unwilling to learn from history. Many of the issues of today, setting aside the technological innovations of this age, are still primeval and tied to the pursuits of power, vanity, pleasure, and legacy. Sin has corrupted our best efforts through all ages of history. Often, it only takes a small number to cause great misery and harm to our race. For example, Dick Cheney, an intelligent man, casually stated during an interview that if, in fact, the Russians had "meddled" in the 2016 election, it might be considered an "act of War." Now...consider the stupidity of this statement and its implications. Russia is not some remote village in Afghanistan. It is a very capable nuclear power with an advanced military. The allegation that somehow the Russians influenced Trump's election by tampering with the election is unproven and unrealistic. Yet, we have done, still do, and continue to meddle in the elections and internal affairs of other nations willfully and without apology, It is part of our historical foreign policy protocols. Yet, Cheney, an educated man, sees no problem in courting war between two powers over this issue. As in European wars of the past, when one King invades the country of another, or declares war on a whim....blood is spilled freely to do what?... pursue and embrace power. To pursue peace is the better option. So the world continues moving forward, cursed by Man's own weaknesses and greed. The human race will never change. Better to just pray the Lord returns soon.

Carl Vehse said...

It's not just Dick Cheney who said that.

“I’ve never agreed with Dick Cheney in my entire life, but when he said this was an act of war, I have to agree with the former vice president. It was an act of war.” That was former interim Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Donna Brazile, who resigned after leaked DNC emails showed she had passed advance debate questions to Hillary prior to the town hall meeting.

Also California Rep. Eric Swalwell (D) referred to to Russia's alleged interference as as "act of war. New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D) referred to it as a "form of war."

About Russia California Rep. Jackie Speier (D) stated: "I actually think that their engagement was an act of war, an act of hybrid warfare, and I think that’s why the American people should be concerned about it,”

Maryland Senator Ben Cardin (D), has also described Russia’s alleged electoral interference as the United States’ “political Pearl Harbor.”

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D), said, "“If the United States isn’t going to take any action in response to that Russian intrusion against your elections, then how can we think that the United States is going to take any action to protect us against Russia?”

She also said, The Russian government, directed by President Putin, launched a brazen attack on our elections that demands an aggressive response." Also, "In concert with our NATO allies, we also need to counter Russia militarily."

"We also need to, frankly, acknowledge that our country and democracy has been attacked by a hostile foreign power," said former New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch (D.

RINOcrat Sen. John McCain said, “When you attack a country, it’s an act of war... And so we have to make sure that there is a price to pay so that we can perhaps persuade Russians to stop this kind of attacks on our very fundamentals of democracy.”

Rev. Weinkauf said...

"Act of war" hyperbole is one thing, but what of actual war? The real war taking place in America, as promoted in the Democratic Party's own platform and other like minded individuals, ensuring that war takes place on....the slaughter of babies. We cannot be a society of virtue and morality, as the article addresses, as long as murdering children is acceptable.

Carl Vehse said...

Regarding "actual war" and an enemy that, over the past four decades has promoted in its own platform, supported, and helped fund the genocidal slaughter (55 million to date) of people of the womb, the leader of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod testified under oath: "We represent a large church body. The constituents are in some way evenly divided between Democrats and Republican. We do not operate in a partisan way."

Rev. Weinkauf said...

Rev. Harrison is correct. For me to state a fact of the Democratic Party is not partisan. Murder of babies is not merely a problem of the Democratic Party; which is why I stated, "and other like minded" which includes Republicans, Independents, Libertarians and anybody else who thinks killing babies is okay.

Carl Vehse said...

I was not implying that President Harrison's statement was untruthful (he was under oath). I was implying the such a statement should shock (and disgust) confessional Lutherans. Such a statement would be similar to saying (in the 1940s), "We represent a large church body. The constituents are in some way evenly divided between members of the Nazi Party and those who are not. We do not operate in a partisan way," or (in the 1950s), "We represent a large church body. The constituents are in some way evenly divided between members of the Communist Party and those who are not. We do not operate in a partisan way."

Kirk Skeptic said...

Liberalism is a religion separate from Christianity (see Machen); we would/should not tolerate unconverted Catholics and Muslims in our fellowship, so why liberals?