A Culture of “Peter Pans”

I was reading the latest issue of IMPRIMIS today, and was struck by a brief piece by a young teacher, Jason Barney. He quoted Cicero in Latin, and then translated it…

Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum. “Not to know what happened before you were born, that is to be always a boy, to be forever a child.”

Jason Barney went on to observe the following about our culture — and I think he hits the bullseye.

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“Too many citizens of our country today are, in Cicero’s terms, forever children. If knowledge of the past matures the soul, it is not something we can afford to marginalize or sideline. Unfortunately, the hard work of gaining knowledge, eloquence, and wisdom is all too often skirted by teacher and student alike. Because we have neglected knowledge of the past and the great tradition of historical understanding, we live in culture of Peter Pans, flying free in Neverland with no past and no future, only the ever-present game, the mock battle against pirates or Indians. Wendy’s stories, with their plot of real challenges to be overcome, only reveal to us our immaturity, the fact that we are forever children who won’t grow up.”
[read the whole Jan. 2013 issue here]

We see this immaturity not only in the culture at large (and it is, sadly, very hard to miss), but we also see it in modern theological inquiry. There are many who are giving their two-cents on the church, or Scripture, or the Trinity, etc., without an awareness of what has been discovered or established (or ruled-out) long before them — both in the content of the doctrine being discussed, as well as in the realm of methodology employed.

This is very sad to see, given the clear charge of Jesus to His disciples — to make disciples (not merely converts) and to teach them everything He commanded. In the church, as in the culture at large, the older generation bears much of the blame for the present deficiencies. Thankfully, there are an increasing number of bright, culturally-engaged scholars and pastors (such as Kevin DeYoung), on the scene who give me hope.

May the Lord have mercy, and help us recover and restore what has been lost.

 

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