Last week the wife and I attended the Danville Civil War Heritage Days. I have a love for history and enjoy visiting the past but that is where it ends. The “good old days” of my parents and grandparents are not the days I want to experience in real life. There are those who love to talk about the “good old days” but the reality is the “good old days” were hard on those who experienced them. I enjoy turning on the faucet and having hot or cold water without going to the well. I enjoy the Internet and the instant access to information. I like turning the key to the ignition and starting the car rather than feeding the horse and hitching up the buggy. I enjoy homemade cooking by like the quickness of the microwave. The “good old days” are only memories and hinder the progress of the present. Individual who are always talking about the past fail to understand they are now making the next generations “good old days.” Those who feel the “good old days” were better than today no doubt did not live in the “good old days”. Trying to live in the memories of the hardships of the past will not make the hardships of the present any better. Not relying on the conveniences of our present culture and living frugally does not make us more spiritual and holy. One person said, “Enjoy yourself. These are the good old days you’re going to miss in the years ahead.”
I often hear older people talk about the “good old days” in the church and wonder what they are talking about. I know for a fact the there is nothing that helps glorify the old days as much as a bad memory. Were the “good old days” in the past sitting on hard straight back pews in a room with a wood or coal stove to provide heat? Been there and didn’t like it. Where they the days when it was hard to hear the preacher because there was no sound system? Been there, although most preachers I knew were loud and long and walked the aisle so you could hear them. Or, were the good old days when there was nothing to day all day Sunday but go to church and listen to a preacher preach for one to two hours? Where the “good old days” enduring an altar call that lasted for thirty minutes and was designed to scare you out of Hell? Been there, it seemed that if the preacher could not put the fear of “lost for eternity”, “damned in hell forever” “the Lord may come tonight and you will be lost forever” into the hearts of those in attendance he wasn’t much of a preacher. Are these the days were are talking about? I don’t know. When I ask people to explain the “good old days” they seem at a loss as to what was the “good” in the “old days”.
There are some things about the “good old days” I like. I like singing out of a hymn books. I don’t like praise songs that repeat the same phrase six or seven times. I don’t like the songs projected on the screen. I don’t want some praise team singing for me; I want to do my own singing. I like the King James Version of the Bible; if it was good enough for Saint Paul it should be good enough for me. (Ok, I know it was written in 1611 but you get my point.) I like to talk with people who read and understand the Bible. I like the fact in the “good old days” people studied the Bible and knew the scriptures. I like that in the “good old days” people had a respect for the church, the pastor, the teachers and worship service. I like that the presence of the Lord could be felt in the service and that people’s heart were moved during worship. I like that in the “good old days” children were taught to listen and be quite in church. So, I guess there are some things about the “good old days” I liked and wish we could continue their practice. But, I know our society has changed and the culture of the church has changed as well.
Christianity has been accused of being a religion of fear. Maybe in the past the message of sin, hell, judgment, death, and eternal punishment were the main message but today we hear very little about anything that creates fear. One individual said if there was more preaching about hell in the pulpit there would be less hell in the streets. That is something to think about. Maybe if there was more preaching on eternal punishment there would be more accountability in our personal lives? Just a thought.
I would like to think I am making some memories for the next generation that are actually good and not the” myth of the past” or the “delusions of a bad memory.” I would like my grandchildren to remember I lived in the present, planned for the future and honored the past.