Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Dictatorship of "Now"

626 years old and still standing.  
One of the most common (and weakest) criticisms against the Church is age-related.  I see it all the time in conversation, in discussion, on the internet: "The Church is old, the Church is out-dated, the Church is stuck in the middle ages, the Church isn't with the times" and away we go down a stream of similarly designed criticisms.  I'll summarize them in this brief point:  "The Church is not a "modern" organization" to which I respond, "Good!"
Complete with a shinier screen and
more "newness"

You see, these critics, well-intentioned as they are, make one logical flaw:  they assume that newer is better.  They look at the world around them, see a very strong emphasis on "today!" and "now!" and "new!"  None of us aspire to use the original iPad.  We want the new iPad.  Our TracFone was great, until we got a texting phone.  Our grandparents grew up using sulfa drugs, but we've moved on to penicillin.

And this is all very good.  New technology is better than old technology.  New medicine is better than old medicine.  I'd rather fly in a brand new shiny Boeing 787 than a dilapidated DC-3 that's as old as my grandmother.  In the realm of scientific knowledge and application, the standard rule of thumb is that new technology (withholding issues of ethicality) is better than old technology.

However, that idea doesn't necessarily apply in areas of religion.  In fact, its converse could apply (to an extent).  You see, while science is strictly a matter of empirical experiments with replicable, testable, and quantifiable results, theology (and philosophy, more or less) are not.

It is not necessary that modern theological concepts are any better than ancient theological concepts.  I tend to favor the ancient theological concepts, or more specifically, I tend to favor the ancient theological concepts that have lasted this long; their longevity speaks boldly of them.
Way back when there was no "wub"
in music, and "drop" meant
gravity was asserting itself.

I think our culture has lost respect for the old.  In our pursuit of the future, we forget the lessons of the path.  We always hear of teenagers behaving as though they are smarter than their parent's generation, but in the modern years, it has become alarming how many adults genuinely believe such things.  One might accept evolution, but surely our species doesn't evolve so quickly that we make our parents' life as obsolete as a first generation iPod.

We need the wisdom of those who came before us.  Its rare that we'll live beyond 90 years, so if we want to know the greater story of human existence, we ought to learn the lessons of our forefathers.  See what lives they lived and what battles they fought, and find take the lessons they learned for our own life.

Now, some of you might say, "But Joe, they were sexists, racists, capitalists, uneducated, illiterate, abusive, etc etc..."  and you'd be correct to say that. They did have quite a few evils in their time.  But then again, don't we have the same?  We have abortion, sterilization, rampant poverty, sex slavery, war, etc. etc., and there's nothing to say our children won't look back upon us and say "They hated children, abused their sexuality, disregarded the poor and enslaved, were violent, etc. etc."  Every generation has their battles, and its a pretty arrogant notion to think ours are less glaring than those that came before us.

And so we find that we cannot afford to be swept up in the notion of "now".  Given the vastness of human history, constricting ourselves to ideas generated in the last generation or two is incredibly narrow.  Let our ancestors have a voice before you become so convinced of a new-fangled solution.

No comments:

Post a Comment