Tuesday, December 20

Ahhh....the good old days

The rally cry of returning to the 'good old days' is one that fills me with deep ambivalence. For most of my life, it's been a code phrase about returning to some parallel universe version of the 1950's and 1960's, where "life was simpler and more carefree". You know...when McCarthy's Red Menace loomed around every corner, women, fags and negros better 'know their place or they'll get what they deserve' and the world was one step away from an atomic nightmare. Ah yes, good times.

In much a same vein, I hear and read a lot about going back to 'the roots' of the church...to the Early Church. What part of that would you like? The part where there isn't a bible yet, but conflicting third-hand accounts of what may or may not have been? How about the whole 'persecution' angle? You could be a martyr for real, then..it's quite fashionable, you know. There's always the whole "If you disagree with my theological positions, I'll slaughter you and your entire family" thing..that was popular.

My point isn't, in either instance, to say that 'those days' were universally bad, but rather we have a nostalgic tendency to consider another place and time to be much better than where and when we are simply because it's somewhere and somewhen else. This sort of nostalgia isn't new, either. Seneca disparages about 'these kids nowadays' over 2000 years ago and Cicero laments over the decline of society as Rome nears the apex of it's glory.

My point is that we should neither vilify nor lionize the past. Examine our history, our heritage. See what is good and bad with equal candor and consider what can be applied most readily for the highest good for the greatest number.

Bringing this back to the Church, there are advantages of a hierarchical structure...and advantages to a congregational structure.

[note: originally written 30 July 2010]

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