History begets its attainments, both mental and material, to proceeding generations.
The youngest are in reality the oldest.
-Roger Bacon, 1267 AD
Each new generation develops an aging complex where it is, by association, wiser and older than it seems to be. It outwardly lurches forward, propelled by its inheritance, but there is the danger that within, the spirit shrivels. The past must not merely be received but internalized, comprehended, and surpassed. Otherwise, we live on the anachronistic attainments of another century.
We languish under the surfeit of undigested data.
-Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc
Nineteenth century architecture is a good example. Because of the advances in science, technology, use of materials, etc. the old traditions should have naturally been relinquished. Standing on the shoulders of their predecessors, each new generation of architects should see past the awe of historical precedent to the vista of new architectural potentials. The Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans passed on principles, reasons, and truths to be assimilated into the composing fibers of a new body of architecture.
Instead, nineteenth century architecture in its “old” age stammered a confused run-on sentence of ‘neos.’ Neoclassical. Neo-Gothic. Neo-Renaissance. Devoid of principle, architecture became sterile and was unable to bequeath anything but empty shells. The true expression of the needs imposed by structure and man was lost. The impotent architecture that remained became senseless graffiti on modern society.
Check out the retrograde motion, kill the notion / Of biting and recycling and calling it your own creation.
What is true of architecture is true with God. God is always advancing.
For example, as great as Moses was, Joshua couldn’t revel in his ministry and try to repeat it. Joshua didn’t give another Deuteronomy, he crossed the river and took possession of the good land. Before Moses departed, he warned the second generation of the danger of contentment and apathy. He was concerned they might languish in their inheritance (poignantly translated in the Recovery Version), in ‘undigested data’.
When you have brought forth children and grandchildren and have languished in the land…
Young Christians cannot live on hand-me down revelations or second hand truths, as long as they remain objective. Historical lessons and teaching points can only go so far. We need to receive (passive) but also possess (active). This will save us from trying to emulate the good old days and keep us at the cusp of what God is doing today. This will also save us from the Laodicean attitude which says, “I am wealthy and have become rich and have need of nothing (Rev. 3:17).”