The sermonette today was a very interesting one on the similarities and parallels between the way that the United States was formed from many peoples into one nation and how it is that the Father creates the Israel of God from many nations as well. It is lamentable, but not particularly surprising, that mankind (including many of us personally) do a better job creating many out of one than we do helping to create one out of many. The sort of unity that we find in the Bible and the way that God takes people of all kinds of backgrounds and temperaments and places them in honorable parts of His Kingdom is remarkable but is something that we have been able to see from the beginning. Even the original group of twelve disciples expresses a variation between those who were relatives of each other and of Jesus Christ on the one hand with Zealots and tax collectors who might have had little agreement with each other on political matters.
I was struck by something said by one of my friends whom I ate dinner with who is attending the Cogwa feast site here in Anchorage as well. He commented about one of the speakers at their feast site giving an excellent sermon message that was something out of the 1960’s or 1970’s, referring to the massive expanse of the universe and the tiny size of earth within that larger universe to point out the superiority of following God to following the rebellious prince of the power of the air who rules over this earth at God’s sufferance for a short time for His purposes. I found nothing to disagree with concerning the statement, and I was certainly pleased by the use of an observation from creation being made to draw a deeper spiritual point, as would have been far more common in the past when such observations regularly made for entertaining small booklets about the wonders of the Archer fish and platypus as being demonstrative of God as a Creator.
What struck me as illustrative would be just how rare it would be for someone to make a deliberate callback to such a previous generation. To be sure, this is something I do from time to time, as a student of history, but while I may make reference in titles to the writings or productions of the past, I seldom will find myself copying the approach of the past as was done in this fashion. And it struck me that much of the difference between what divides people so often springs from what sort of aspects of the past and present serve as inspirations and serve as things we wish to remember and imitate. To the extent that the past is something to celebrate and to recreate and to respect to the point of reverence, those who find the past to be full of things that one feels ambivalent to hostile to seem to be hostile to them. Likewise, to those whose focus is on progress that we have yet to make, those who point to what has been lost in the past and ought to be recovered are viewed as obstacles to necessary progress because recovering what has been lost means rejecting much of what is falsely considered to be worthwhile progress.
Truth be told, the struggle between progressive and reactionary forces is often a false dilemma. There is much in the past of humankind, in societies as well as in institutions, that is abhorrent and deserves to be looked at with horror and loathing. There is also much that is falsely called progress that deserves to be treated with contempt and withering scorn. There are areas where we have made some genuine progress towards what is right, and other areas where the past is full of beauty that deserves to be recovered. Someone who is wise and discerning does not reject either progress, conserving, or restoration on principle, but rather seeks to judge on a case by case basis what is to be progressed towards that we have yet to achieve, what needs to be conserved that is in danger of being lost, and what needs to be restored that has been lost to us from the past. To be sure, there is a lot of disagreement on what should belong to each category, but having a vivid and bright vision of the world to come can allow us to overcome a great deal of distinction in how we view things here and now. Yet that vision is hard to maintain and all too easy to lose.