Friday, September 20, 2013


One of my favourite themes and it comes up in a post by Slate's television critic about The Wonder Years.
... it was always explicitly about nostalgia: a reminiscence of the honeyed, home-movie days of midcentury American adolescence that wanted its audience to miss the past from the very start. And unlike those series, The Wonder Years is hovering influentially over this fall’s new comedies, a batch of family sitcoms riffing on taciturn dads like Jack Arnold and the fantasy that life used to be simpler.
If you read it, you'll notice it's a weird piece in that it doesn't quite identify the problem it wants to talk about.

 I mean, you can guess the problem. It is anger at people who like shows like The Wonder Years for wanting to return to a past that either "can never be regained" or, more harshly, "never existed in the first place". It's a common strategy for reformers. Pope Francis was pushing it the other day.
The defining aspect of this change of epoch is that things are no longer in their place. Our previous ways of explaining the world and relationships, good and bad, no longer appears to work. The way in which we locate ourselves in history has changed. Things we thought would never happen, or that we never thought we would see, we are experiencing now, and we dare not even imagine the future. That which appeared normal to us – family, the Church, society and the world – will probably no longer seem that way. We cannot simply wait for what we are experiencing to pass, under the illusion that things will return to being how they were before. (Father Z's added emphasis retained.)
He doesn't want you to think that he is changing the church. He wants you to think that the world is changing so we have no choice but to change. (And ducking personal responsibility is a big part of this argument: "Don't hold me responsible for this.")

The argument that things have changed so we have to live differently is a powerful one and that is, no doubt, part of why people keep using it.

Two questions though:
  1. Isn't this trivial? Or, to put it another way, isn't change constant such that change is a thing that never changes, a thing that every generation in history has dealt with?
  2. Does everything change? Or are there aspects of life (really important, even basic aspects of life succh as human nature, for example) that don't change?
And I'll leave it there for now. More in Monday.

1 comment:

  1. For what its worth, Pope Leo XIII also said that the world is changing and the Church must change with it as he issued his landmark encyclical Rerum Novarum. I think Francis has the potential to be as great a Pope as Leo was.