I frequently hear people lament about days gone by who imagine that our nation was better off a half-century ago. You know: Back when white men ruled, women knew their place, LGBTQ persons and peoples of color could be treated with contempt and violence, it was holy to castigate sinners in public, and God kept a checklist to meet out post-mortem punishment and rewards:
Oh, for the good old days when all children were compelled to pray in schools according to the religious convictions of a faculty grounded in Christian dogma. Since then, God has been banished from the classroom, and children no longer respect their elders.
Oh, for the good old days when women were happily perched on a pedestal and men took seriously their responsibility to protect them from the hardships of the workplace and the world.
Oh, for the good old days when the Bible was understood as the inerrant Word of God, and the King James’ Version, with its 17th Century English idiom, guided our understanding of marriage.
If only we could renew these values once again, we could see our nation restored to the glories of its past!
But perhaps we’ve grown too much in our thinking to allow ourselves such simplistic viewpoints when school children were indoctrinated into believing a certain way.
Perhaps we’ve grown enough mentally to question the story of an omnipotent God who could find no way to forgive his human children for their misdeeds than by having them slaughter his Son.
Perhaps we’ve come to understand women as being capable of determining their own destinies, including their ability to make their own moral choices about their life courses what they can do with their own bodies.
Perhaps we have come to understand the true nature and function of sex and sexual orientation as being a way of allowing human beings to find joy and completeness in the expressions of love that bind them to each other both physically and spiritually.
Or, perhaps all we need to do is wring our hands enough while reciting the mantra: “Ain’t it awful, ain’t it awful,” while searching for Biblical phrases to support those lamentations even though that collection of writings reflects an iron-age view of both the structure of the universe and the nature of divinity.
Still, I would hope that we could come to use that holy book (and other holy books) as part of a foundation on which to build a growing understanding of humankind’s progression toward discovering our individual and collective purposes in the cosmos.
For the sake of our posterity, we must find better solutions to our social, economic, and environmental problems than merely longing for a mythical past that never really was.