Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Losing the past

I confess to a temperamental sympathy with Viscount Falkland's "When it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change." When questioning tradition the presumption should be in favor of the of the past — innocent, if you will, until proven guilty. Obviously tradition cannot stand if it contradicts truth but the case needs to be made.

That came to mind as I read what Kevin DeYoung wrote about the discomfort many older people have felt about continual innovation in worship.
.... The worship wars could have been mitigated greatly if younger generations wanting newer songs had taken the time to remember memory. Church leaders may say, “It’s about reaching young people.” Or, “We need music that resonates with the culture.” These may even be good reasons to change some things. But we have to realize that those who grew up with hymns don’t just lose the songs they prefer, they lose continuity with their past. They lose a whole lifetime worth of experiences–happy times, sad times, birth, marriage, death–a thousand bits of life that get embedded in the songs we’ve always sung.

None of this means we can’t sing new songs. Praise God that we can have new songs to be filled with new memories for a new generation. But we have to do more than honor the past. We have to sympathize with those who lose their connections to the past, in church of all places. More than that, we have to remember the past and make an effort to preserve what is best from it. We forget at our own peril. For the Church’s memories should be our memories. And our memories are not just our own, but belong to those who come after us. We must not hide them from our children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders he has done (Psalm 78:4).
Chesterton:
“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around.”
And
"Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up."
Remembering Memory – Kevin DeYoung