History, and the Study Thereof…

I think that history is time writing lyrics to play to its own tune.The history student, then, who learns dates as anything more than an ancillary movement to the general theme wastes his time and mental effort.

Give a horse his head and he will take that head to the barn where he is fed. Give history its head and it will correct in real time to the generous, the good and kind, if not for a Herod or a Hitler to interrupt. The man who believes he is perfectible must know he has mostly to find the flow of history and then stand in its stream, allowing the clear stream to soak away his issues, carry them down stream away from him and out into the larger body, where they abate.

If we would be perfected and understand perfection as a gracious act from beyond our capacities, we who would be the active agents of our own change and so affect history, find a person or a cause to champion Usually, the causes we take up are the result of our connection with a person. I have taken up the cause of Christianity quite because I have met Christ, in His people, His bride, His church, His book and, most of all, I have met His Spirit. I have to serve Him now, which means, I will accompany Him through history, into eternity. I cannot help but be better for my association with Him, so I cannot help but do good for those I meet, of whatever class or caster or cause.

Once met, then, it is my contention that Jesus must make us better, not by command, though He certainly has the right and power to command, but, primarily, by association. He repeatedly offered persons the chance to go with Him, so that they could do as He does. He would show them by example and so make His vision theirs (Matthew 4:17, 19). I do not know that I can tell you the day in history when we met, He and I, but I can tell you I know Him. I know He loves me and wish I could love Him as He loves me.

So, for me, the study of History is my action to trace His steps through time, to see the places and find the instances where and when He does His work, through the faithful and the errant. Is His work more visible on the Cross than in my friend Biff’s laboratory, where Biff, the mad scientist (not his real name) seeks to cure the hazards of age and disease? Is He more visible in the travels of Paul, or in the actions of a petty bureaucrat in Japan during WWII, a man who wrote out travel visas for Jews fleeing Europe and, in so doing, probably rescued more Jews than Schindler, and with less reward?

All truth comes from the fount of Truth, which is the origin of all Goodness as well. The preacher/priest Wesley made as his first rule, Do No Harm and said this before he said, Do Good. He knew, or thought, that a person who wanted to do good had a better chance just to stop doing harm at first. I think he was right and that people have not changed much since his time.

In your American passport there are some intriguing, if initially empty pages. On them are some words from Dr. Martin Luther King, then the Kennedy inaugural (there has only been one) and then some words from a Mohawk chief. This intrigues me because each of these fellows is a man who died in America, violently, and the death of each man caused as many to mourn as to celebrate. We ought to stop killing such men, and women, if for no other reason than to see what they might teach us in time if we let them live.

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