Remembrance of former things

Faith & Inspiration

I wonder if my high school daughter knows what the yellow pages are. She's asleep right now, but I'll have to ask her.

I wonder if the little kids next door whose parents got rid of their landline know what a "dial tone" is. In a few years the term will be as strange to our ears as "daguerreotype" is now in the digital camera era.

They definitely don't know what a switchboard operator is, which the dial tone replaced in 1947. And nobody under about age 60 knows what a "party line" is, or at least the naughty thrill of eavesdropping on one.

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My 17-year-old was stunned when I proposed to her that the tykes coming into her old elementary school don't really know what "9/11" means-and that some of them will be complaining if the teacher mentions it in class: "Aw, do we have to study about that for the test?" I saw in her eyes the first ever experience that will be more regular later, of realizing that there is a generation over your shoulder that thinks of you as a dinosaur.

It happens very fast, the fading of one generation before another. "Sunrise, sunset / Sunrise, sunset / Swiftly flow the days," as Tevye sang in Fiddler on the Roof.

"There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after" (Ecclesiastes 1:11).

It makes me sad to read in the opening words of Exodus:

"Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph" (1:8).

Having just read through Genesis, and having my soul full of the drama and pain and glory of God in the story of Joseph and the other characters, it hurts to imagine a generation arising who say, "Who's Joseph?" or "Jacob who?" or "What famine?"

From one point of view, the whole of Bible history is about memory. We slip away from God because we forget what He has done in the past. (That includes our own personal past.) After all the hard-won gains of Moses and his successor Joshua, the tribes fall into complacency and worse for the next 200 years, which you can read all about in Judges. The Psalmist attributes all our defeats and moribund living to forgetfulness:

"They did not remember his power, or when he redeemed them from the foe" (Psalm 78:42).
Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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