Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Today’s Glimmer of Gloom: History as a Tool

In the midst of the political elbowing for space on a ticket, we are hearing a lot of references to history. Mostly about how the founding fathers would support a particular politician’s current policy.

And often the view of what happened back then comes off a bit skewed, or twisted, or, uhm… wrong.

But it isn’t the wrongness or potential not rightness that is the big problem.

Take for example a moment from the past year with the former governor of Alaska. Upon leaving an exhibit about Paul Revere, she was questioned by the press about what she learned inside.

The primary thing she learned was that Paul’s midnight ride was for the purpose of going out there and warning the British that they can’t defy our second Amendment right to bear arms.

There was much brouhaha at the time about the level of accuracy in Ms. Palin’s statements; but the depressing part of this story has nothing to do with what Paul was or was not doing galloping around in the night.

The glimmer of gloom comes from how history is being viewed.

You see, Sarah Palin did not walk into that exhibit wondering,

“What can I learn from this piece of history? How can this founding revolutionary impact my view on life, the world, politics, etc?”

Instead, knowing full well that reporters would be awaiting her exit, she walked into that exhibit wondering,

“What can I get from this that supports my current views? How can I use this moment to garner some political points for my existing stance?”

A lot of us in the Christian faith have the same approach to our Holy texts. We approach the Bible saying,

“I believe in such-n-stuff. What can I find in the Bible that shows that my view is correct?”

We could, instead, approach the Bible saying, “I wonder what I can learn from this Holy book today?”

One approach opens us up to wisdom; the other just promotes the stagnation of the wisdom we currently hold.

What would it be like, I wonder, if we all approached history with the desire to learn and grow from it, rather than just using it as a weapon in our arsenal of being right?

What if the lives of our patriarchs, whether patriots or saints, were tools to challenge us, to question us, to expand our thinking, our believing, our living?

But then again, there are no political points to be had in improving who we are, only in bolstering who we once were.

So maybe not.

Just my thoughts,


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