Our Stories Still Matter!

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“No one reads the classics anymore.” “The classics were written by a lot of dead people a long time ago.”

Have you ever had such thoughts? Do you remember those high school days when you were reading “Beowulf” or “Julius Caesar”? Or, for many of us in college, we read Dante’s Inferno, which gives a perspective on living well and avoiding eternal punishment. Then, there were those from more modern literature, like Gustave Flaubert’s Madam Bovary, and Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles or George Orwell’s 1984. What did we learn from all those long hours of reading tough material?

We learned about living life well, about the deep emotions that result from wise and not-so-wise decisions, and about the importance of living intentionally.

Last week, I joined about 100 people to listen to Dr. Mark Bauerlein, senior editor of First Things, winner of the Nautilus Book Award, multiple book author, and an English professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He spoke as part of The Richmond Center for Christian Study and spoke on “The Genesis of the Academic Gay Movement.” One point that stood out to me was 25 years ago, a dramatic shift occurred in the humanities as courses moved away from the traditional classics and instead moved to modern literature and authors, all with a different focus. From learning about how to live in the world where we find ourselves, the focus became changing the world where we live to improve society. Gone to a large degree are these classics where students struggled to understand the language and the development of characters in complicated situations, often of their own making. All this has been replaced with literature and academic energy with modern ideas—gender studies, women studies, gay studies, and the like.

An Unchanging Rock

Rocks don't face much change!

As a personal historian and just as a person who has lived for several decades, I understand that change always comes along—or else we would be dead, think of a rock. Change brings a future but involves a death as well, think of an acorn. Classic literature teaches us to have a depth of understanding and an empathy for people unlike ourselves, but who wrestle with our same emotions? We see how their poor or selfish decisions hurt those around them and are the seeds of their own destruction. We don’t have to make those same mistakes and suffer the disastrous consequences.

Our life stories are like those great novels. We have made all sorts of decisions–some good, some bad, and some downright disastrous. However, they all add up to who we are today. By telling our stories, we can enlighten another person’s journey, helping them make good decisions or bring relief to them in their situation. The stories of our lives are just a part of ourselves, but they are important to tell.

What do you think about the change in focus from the traditional classics to this new modern way of thinking? Is it helpful to our shared life journey? Have you thought about your life story as a great novel that brings greater understanding to the next generation? What interesting story do you have to tell today?

Remember when you are ready to tell your story, we are ready to help!

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