July 23, 2024

Use Nostalgia To Press For the Old Ways

The wise preacher of Ecclesiastes warns us not to look at the past and think that it was better.

Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.

Ecclesiastes 7:10

And yet, it’s logically incorrect to say that a generation can be better or worse than the previous. The Bible itself points this out.

In one of the saddest parts of the Old Testament, we read at the end of the book of Joshua that the children of Israel followed God and his ways for as long as Joshua and the rulers with Joshua lived– and then they immediately turned from God and did exactly what God said they would do. Reading Nehemiah, we see that it took hundreds of years for the Israelites to feast in Booths!

And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.

Nehemiah 8:17

So there is some value in examining the past and comparing it to a standard, to see how far we have strayed, and where we need to go back. And it is this reflection of a fellow Gen X’er that I particularly mourn as well.

Whereas the Boomers are openly gleeful to have denied the younger generations the world they knew, it grieves Generation X that we were unable to preserve it.

When Spacebunny and I bought our first house, I consciously sought one that was on a dead end culdesac backed up on a park, with the idea that the children we hoped to have would be able to run around and play there with the pack of neighborhood kids one day.

But, as Spacebunny correctly pointed out, it was already too late for that. Even by the end of the 1990s, suburban kids really didn’t do that anymore, for a variety of reasons.

The World We Lost

I was just remarking to someone the other day about how much we’ve lost from our churches. My childhood was filled with monthly meals at the church, a weekly Friday night at the YMCA where we’d fellowship with volleyball and the pool, and yearly all nights at the Y. Those things have all vanished from the church that I grew up in, and the community has disappeared.

I wouldn’t say that it’s totally lost, but traded. We all have the same amount of time, and we could spend it in those older ways– and we may one day have to! But we have traded community life for the solitary one, children for money, and the pursuit of godly families for just trying to get by.

Those who wish to be different have a hard time not being lumped in with those who are radically different.

Eventually, those that have community will prosper, while the rest of us will realize that we’ve traded that which was really of worth for temporary, fleeting pleasure.

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