I like Joshua Gibbs. That’s for new readers here. He gives me things to consider, so I’m interrupting regularly scheduled programming to share his most recent essay.
It is relevant not only because it dovetails with my current series of posts on The Feminine Mystique, but because it is intimately connected to the ways we teach, learn, and impart values to those coming behind us. Education, which encompasses all three of those, is a major secondary theme here at Reading in Between the Life.
In I Study the Past So I Can Repeat It, Gibbs writes:
Ouch. I’ve uttered that silly phrase myself, although I hope my offering just due to the good and godly values we have discarded makes up for it.
He continues later in the piece:
In this day and age, the danger of “idolizing the past” is a good bit like the danger of “works righteousness,” which is to say it is not much of a danger at all. Given the profound sloth, laziness, boredom, and ennui of the average American, we are flattering ourselves to pretend “works righteousness” is a sin to which we are actually tempted. Further, the omnipresence of banal, sensual, ephemeral popular culture has placed the possibility of idolizing the past on a very long hiatus. If this nation began making a conscious effort to worship the past, I suspect it would take all of us— working around the clock— more than fifty years of robust and tireless idol-making before a single instance of genuinely blasphemous love for the past was truly possible. We loathe the past. Even conservative Christians loathe the past. Spend an hour in Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) and you will see that fewer than one in a thousand self-professed conservatives alive today has the respect for custom or tradition which served as the ante for conservative political philosophy at the end of the 19th century. The average modern “conservative” has more in common with Rachel Maddow than Edmund Burke.
You should really go read the whole thing.
Read, enjoy, think.