I don’t know about you, but I often feel behind when it comes to culture. I think the last movie I saw in the theater was Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. I find myself playing video games that came out years ago, some of which already have a sequel or two out. I watch most of my television via Netflix and that always means I’m behind the curve. It seems like being on the cutting edge can wind up being a full time job. With culture and technology moving at full speed it seems like the movie, video game, band, or tv show of last week is old and passe, let alone the ones that came out years or even decades ago.
I wonder if sometimes we’re so focused with keeping up with all the new that we let the old slip through the cracks. We forget that what we enjoy now is often built off of or influenced by what has come before it. Sometimes it is obvious as we see a remake or re-imagining of an old show, movie, or video game. Perhaps is a modern cover of a classic song, or we turn beloved TV shows into movies or movies into TV shows. However, by and large we can’t always see these influences and in fact we disregard them as unimportant and don’t even give the past a glance and only focus on the present and future.
My point here isn’t to only focus on culture. I think we have a tendency to focus simply on our own lifetime and our own experiences in general. There are those who only look back and say that those were the good times and we’re just going downhill. There are others who say that the past isn’t relevant and that things are better today than they were in the past. The problem with both of these outlooks is that it doesn’t really look much beyond our own experience.
Some look around us and think that the world is coming to an end, but forget about the atrocities and catastrophes that have happened in the past. Times of massive wars, famines, plagues, and death that rocked large portions of the world. To think that now is worse than then is often pretty unconvincing to me. Perhaps they are right, but I guess I just don’t see it entirely.
On the other side of the coin we can think that we’re the ones who know best. In those cases we ignore the advances that people have made in the past and ignore the real woes that we face today. We even pat ourselves on the backs for certain views we hold that really fly in the face of the views of most people in history and simply dismiss thousands of years of history with smug indifference.
My question in all this, is how do we bridge the past, present, and future. How do we nurture a honest and capable view of past, present, and future? Whether in the culture or in the church how does this take place? Whether the issue be culture, historical understanding, or simply willingness to be in relationships with people of different generations how does one nurture an appreciation of both what has come before us as well as being able to appreciate the present but also the future. To be able to have honest discussions about both the good and the bad of the past and the present so that we can walk into the future with eyes open for both danger and opportunity.