The Wisdom of the Ages


C.S. Lewis is where I first ran into the idea of Chronological Snobbery. The idea that we of the current age are smarter than all who went before us and can look down our noses at the past.

Lewis reminded me/us that each age has its blind points, places where it makes mistakes. Reading books from other ages, if we do it right, helps us learn about the blindness of our age, as well as its greatness.

It seems I know a lot of people who feel that they were “born in the wrong era,” that they would fit better into a different era. Rather than being in the wrong era, I think it is just that they are more aware than others of the wisdom of the ages.

I talk to my kids again and again about the values that are enduring throughout the ages, and encourage them to be aware of the differences between the various eras and decades. They certainly are aware of allusions to a lot of things through several decades. Hopefully they understand the wisdom and different perspectives of some of those eras.

In religious matters, I often hear people talk about how so many things of the Bible are cultural. How if we followed everything in the Bible we would support concubinage and polygamy, for example. But they want to replace it by following the wisdom of the current age. I think they have missed the point. First, in that they have misread how the Bible presents things like concubinage and polygamy, and second, in replacing those things with a chronological snobbery, instead of recognizing the underlying truths and wisdom of the ages.

They are too willing to go with the spirit of the age and cast aside the wisdom and sensibilities of the ages as outdated. Nothing is ever outdated: either it is right, or wrong, or has some good ideas but needs improving. As the old cliche goes, “don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.”

Too often the “new ideas” are just another way for the same old enemies to put on the cloak of light in their attempts to convince the people to give up their liberty.

On July 4 I put up a link to a John Wayne Patriotic TV special. One of the comments on it called it an excellent “jingoistic” special. Why someone would call someone “jingoistic” that had no aggression, but plenty of self-abasement in its unashamed pride for our country I will never know. Some of the special is very period; other parts of it are very timeless. It is a star-studded production of the era. You can recognize a lot of great names who participated: many probably because John Wayne asked, many probably because they really believed in it.

But it is an excellent example of why we should review the thoughts of past ages. Even then they were talking about patriotism being out of date, and disagreeing. Which tells you how often the “spirit of the age” is wrong. Patriotism wasn’t out of date then, and it isn’t out of date now. Knowing that can make us more bold to respectfully stand up for the ageless truths we know.

Agree to learn from what is being said today, but don’t let them talk you out of the wisdom you know — the wisdom of the ages.


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