Tuesday thoughts about former days…

I’m listening to “The Barber of Seville Overture” this morning on my Alexa, otherwise known as my government spying device.

If anyone in the CIA is interested in my listening preferences, they will most likely be confused.

Of course, when one thinks of “The Barber of Seville” and one is over 55, the first thought that comes to mind is Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, and the “Wabbit of Seville.”

For you youngsters out there, your parents’ generation learned everything they know about classical music from Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry. And they STILL know more about music than you do.

Wabbit of Seville makes me nostalgic. Anyone who can listen to that masterful overture by Rossini without singing, “I’m wooking for a waaaabbbbiiiiiit” “What….do you want with a waaaaaaabit? Can’t you see that I’m much sweeter, I’m a widdle senoriter….” has something missing from their soul.

It is almost enough to tempt one to say, “That’s when they REALLY knew how to make TV shows, unlike today.”

We make inane comments like “The Golden Age of Television”, and then we remember Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley and immediately repent of our misguided nostalgia, and get back on the train of wisdom.

And that got me thinking about Ecclesiastes,

Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this. (Eccl. 7:10)

I, for one, am thankful for progress. As Christians, I think we should always be looking at ways to progress in beauty and justice and love and wisdom, rather than stubbornly hold on to some past that may or may not have even existed.

You might speak of the “Golden age of television”, but we had two and a half channels and the highlight of our week was Happy Days.

You might speak nostalgically about that time when “people could leave their doors unlocked” and everybody watched out for everybody else, but conveniently forget about the women trapped in abusive marriages with no way out; children beaten with belts until blood ran down their legs; minorities ran out of neighborhoods; ran out of “white businesses” and refused service because of the color of their skin.

There were things about my childhood that bring happy memories, memories of joy and peace. These are the “Wabbit of Seville” moments. But most of what was on TV then I can’t even make it through today.

Have you ever noticed how Darrin treated Sam on Bewitched? Or Jeannie?? Barbara Eden is a genii that lived in a bottle, safely out of sight unless she was needed, who would do ANYHING for her master. But her belly button didn’t make the censor’s cut. What sort of weird world was THAT?

And this says a lot about culture in general, I think. Sure, hold on to those things that were kind and good, peaceful and beautiful. Sing about Wabbits and Senoriters along with Rossini.

But don’t be afraid to say, “You know what? I’m glad that our only options aren’t the Love Boat or Lawrence Welk on Saturday night. I’m glad that Tony Orlando no longer pollutes our airways. I’m glad we’ve moved on from Fantasy Island.

Let it go. Thank God for seat-belt laws, helmet laws, anti-segregation laws. Thank God that the divorce laws caught up with what the scripture teaches and women don’t have to stay with treacherous men who repeatedly break their covenant. Thank God that moms and dads aren’t allowed to draw blood from their children’s backsides. Thank goodness that law enforcement is finally at least beginning to care about rape victims and incest cases, and that public opinion has changed so that there is pressure for justice and action. We still have a LONG ways to go, but we will never make any progress if we refuse to see the problem.

Thank God for progress, especially that progress that means that I am not the same person that I was ten years ago; that our society is not the same society that it was 50 years ago; that the church has progressed and isn’t the same as it was 50 years ago.

This, of course, does not mean that the faith once for all delivered to the saints has changed. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. But because this is true, I am the one who needs to change.

As long as I still pretend that there was some “Golden age” and seek to get back to that imaginary time, I will never grow, never know beauty, never live. I’ll just wrap myself up in old Reader’s Digests telling the same jokes that I knew as a child, and the same stories that I knew as a child, listening to the same music, and the same books and shutting my ears to the cries of pain and injustice and hunger and helplessness. “Back in my day, we used to…..blah, blah, blah…”

And I will miss so much. But if I open my eyes, I will get a tiny taste of what Solomon calls wisdom.

Don’t ask why the former things were better. That isn’t a question that wisdom asks. Wisdom seeks beauty and growth and justice. Wisdom seeks to distinguish between good and bad, truth and error, love and hatred, dark and light.

Then, as now, there was a little light, and a lot of darkness. Fifty years later, I think that there is a little more light. Still a lot of darkness, but perhaps a little more light – because Jesus is on the throne and he is governing all things and his kingdom is over all.

But we frequently miss the light because we mistake it for nostalgia.

Now go find the Wabbit of Seville and watch it again. And when you are done, listen to the new album by The Killers. In that album they are doing what Meatloaf was trying to do but lacked the talent and ability. Don’t miss the Killers because you are hung up on Meatloaf (weird metaphor of the day).

9 Comments

Filed under Wisdom

9 responses to “Tuesday thoughts about former days…

  1. Good post, Sam. I’m actually trapped, often stuck between people’s nostalgic dreams, the TV world of glory days gone by AND the alleged “Summer of Love,” people now in power still trying to relive the 60’s. I’m a Gen x and it’s a bit funny, but we are the most invisible, underrated generation ever. Like, we don’t even exist and certainly were not invited to the cultural narrative.

    • I hear you. Without discussing the merits of either, it is telling that both candidates for both major parties are well into their seventies and representatives of bygone eras that our culture seems to long for – whether it is reliving the 60s and the summer of love, or reliving the 50s and Eddie and the Beaver.
      I say, as Christians, we should be looking forward and progressing. Not looking back and stagnating.

    • And I am right on the cusp of Genx and the Boomer generation. My wife is GenX, and so are my best friends. They have made me an honorary GenXer.
      We mostly just shake our heads and wonder what on earth everyone is up to

  2. Z

    What a refreshing post! I was that child of the 50s and 60s who had the blood running down my legs from the belt beatings, among other abuses by both parents.
    But, it’s nice to be able to respond to this post as simply a regular reader. Not a victim/survivor.
    I just wanted to say I TOTALLY love your unique weirdness! Bugs Bunny, opera, The Killers vs Meatloaf…Lol. Your sartorial preferences and all the other idiosyncrasies you’ve written about in the past. A true, unapologetic original. You are a bright light of realness to me in this world. You make me smile and sometimes laugh out loud. That is quite an accomplishment! I rarely laugh or smile. Lifelong traumas do that to a person. We don’t see much “light” or “realness” in the world because our souls have been run over by the massive freight train of longterm abuses and the responses (betrayals, abandonments, denials…) of our “Christian brothers and sisters”. We’ve seen this world’s evil and injustice up close way too often. I’m fighting for my life daily. Fighting to even breathe sometimes. Doing all I can, with Jesus at my side, to recover and He’s definitely helping me but I’m far from recovery. Without Jesus, though, I’d be dead. The pain would have swallowed me up.
    And I thank God for you being you. You’ve not only given me such apt answers to my questions and words of great comfort and wisdom in answer to past comments/questions I’ve written to you, but you’ve lifted my spirits many times by writing about not fitting in sometimes, learning not to care about fitting in, living free and authentic and letting your freak flag fly!!
    God, how I want to get away from my constant, familiar heaviness and to that free place! Psalm 73 addresses this heavy place and verse 24 promises me that I WILL one day. Praise God for that!
    I guess I just wanted to say I love and appreciate you, Pastor! 😄🤣

  3. janetlynnem

    Z, I had to look up the word “sartorial”! I love what you wrote to Sam, and I agree that he lifts the spirits of his readers by living “free and authentic and letting [his] freak flag fly! He also gets the pain of suffering in various forms, and of being misunderstood and betrayed by Christian brothers and sisters. I’m glad his writing comforts you, and I pray that you will find freedom.

    • Z

      Thank you janetlynnem!
      Of course, I forgot to mention how Pastor Sam can empathize with those of us suffering mental anguish as well as chronic pain. I hate that he has to suffer. I hate that his beautiful, loving family has had to suffer. But I’m so happy he has a loving family. That’s something I never knew. And love how he can be so free-spirited and solid in his faith in the midst of suffering. All of this is why his advice and wisdom is so dear to me and others. I’m glad you agree about what a treasure he is!
      Thank you for the prayers, sister. I do need all the prayers I can get.

  4. Z

    Thank you janetlynnem!
    Of course, I forgot to mention how Pastor Sam can empathize with those of us suffering mental anguish as well as chronic pain. I hate that he has to suffer. I hate that his beautiful, loving family has had to suffer. But I’m so happy he has a loving family. That’s something I never knew. And love how he can be so free-spirited and solid in his faith in the midst of suffering. All of this is why his advice and wisdom is so dear to me and others. I’m glad you agree about what a treasure he is!
    Thank you for the prayers, sister. I do need all the prayers I can get.

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