What if the golden age was today?

If some things are better today, am I forgetting yesterday?

This is part of the question that the previous columns have prompted, and I’m not yet ready to give up on the topic.

When I suggested that “the good old days” weren’t good for everyone, I knew it would sting sore spots. If you have fond memories of life in downtown Newark and the surrounding area of ​​Licking County, I have no interest in taking them away, or even stomping on them before you return them to you.

What interests me is the process of adding depth to the image, looking at angles not always in the center of the frame, and seeing what the shadows can tell us.

Pragmatically, I like a series of books by William A. Frassanito on Gettysburg (where he lives) and Antietam and other Civil War battlefields, where he takes classic photographs from the era and uses the shadows and certainties of the older landscape. revisit and reassess what we can learn by visiting these places today. He discovered “arrangements” and reframes that tell us today about parts of history that were created, designed and, in some cases, just plain wrong. Errol Morris has done much the same in documentary films and the pages of the New York Times.

There are shadows over Newark and Licking County over the century between 1880 and 1980 which, when examined closely, reveal both detail in the dark, as well as notable achievements that have been obscured. It is a fixed price, in confessional community life or civic affairs: we take the rain with the rainbow, the storm with the sun. If you try to do everything in sunlight and heat, you end up with an overexposed desert.

Likewise, we’ve been doing quite a bit over the last few years and I’m afraid we might fail to appreciate as we might because of the way we try to compare it to a golden age that hasn’t. maybe never been. Church life deals with this all the time: the idea that in the 1950s and 1960s everyone went to church, we could all keep our doors open, and the stores all stayed closed on Sundays so that we all stay at home and memorize the Romans.

Do I think there is less rote Bible work being done today than there was in the past? Yeah, I think that’s a good point. I could also ask pastorally if we can be sure that we are getting the results we hoped for by making “memory verses” the core of our youth programs. Mark Twain wrote caustically about the ways and means of scripture memorization in 1876: go get a copy of “Tom Sawyer” and read it for yourself.

So last week I was asking questions out loud about education and the industry, and whether or not we can’t stand up for the way we live in a sort of golden age, with more graduates. high school, more students with disabilities considering both education and opportunities. , and new avenues of access to the labor market, which we have had for generations. What we have lost, and please believe me when I say that I feel with you the lack, it is a way for young people who do not want to continue to go to school buildings and to to sit in the classrooms so that they can make a path for themselves, to safe and stable housing and a happy family life. The path to factory work and family life is not what it used to be.

We don’t want to lock all high school graduates into a college program if that’s not what they’re called. Likewise, many more young people have other avenues than factory and hourly employment than a hundred or even fifty years ago. Our collective concern, and no small pain, is that these opportunities come at a cost: the reality that many young adults leave to find those second and third steps to new possibilities, and move away from where we raised them.

It is not to avoid these losses, locally, that I would first like to celebrate all that is, in fact, possible today for someone who is starting his adult life. And to take my hat off to recently semi-retired Conan O’Brien and his words, “If you work really hard and you’re nice, amazing things are going to happen.

Jeff Gill is a central Ohio writer, storyteller, and preacher; he has a little more to say about discernment and vocation if you promise to come back next week. Let him know what you like about your work history at [email protected], or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.

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