Thursday, January 04, 2007

Why history is important

It's possible fairly ironic that i seem to have more affection for history now than at any time during my degree. Thats not quite true, bits of year 3 term 2 were pretty cool, and three or four of my history teachers are among some of my favourite people, but this afternoon i've spent time looking at history in two different ways, two important ways.

We'll do the last one first. I spent a couple of hours this afternoon in the company of King Josiah and King Hezekiah off of Israel, trying to get some sort of handle on Zephaniah (yeh, i actually love being a Relay Worker). Josiah has to be about on of my favourite people in the Old Testament. Whilst some of his men were try to refurbish the Temple, they found the covenant books of God, which i'm guessing are the first five books of the Bible in the Temple treasury. Now, quite how these were lost in the first place i don't know, but Josiah reads them and tears his clothes and repents. And then, and this is about my favourite bit, he goes around Judah on a destruction spree, trashing all the temples, high places and altars of the foriegn gods that his father and grandfather had caused Judah to sin by worshipping. Isn't that great. This is theology being lived lived out...and smashed out. Josiah had already been described as 'one who did right in the eyes of the LORD', which was increasingly rare those days, so he probably knew that things had gone wrong since the days of David and Soloman. He looked at history and saw that things needed to change, and man, did he change them. Perhaps not totally as Zephaniah suggests that there was still idol worship going on, but definately for the better.

And then what happens? His son becomes king, does evil in the sight of the LORD, and thats pretty much that for Judah, before being taken off into exile and captivity. Within about 11 years Jerusalem had fallen. Jehoiakim and Johoiachin both doing what is evil in the sight of the LORD. If only they'd paid attention to King Josiah, to a bit more history, maybe they would have learnt.

Hezekiah was king three generations earlier, and made the same kind of sweeping reforms that Josiah later would. He also fought off the Assyrians from more or less inside Judah. Good work. But then what happened? He died, and Manasseh and Amon both did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, leading Israel to sin. They didn't look back to David, or even just back to Hezekiah, and they sinned, Josiah did, and the Lord let him die before the exile. So history is important.

Here's the other, less important thing. I spent an hour at lunchtime at Wycombe printing off microfilm of Wycombe match reports from 1957 (yep i'm that cool) for something else i'm helping out with. Man, it was great, i could have done it all day. It was cool to look back at the games we played then, how good we were on the amatuer scene, how people got to games, all that jazz. History is important for small clubs like Wycombe. If we forget about people like Len Worley, Paul Bates and Geoff Truett, we'll forget where we come from, we'll forget why we exist. Recently Wycombe Wanderers have converted to being a PLC, and sold the name of the ground (fortunately now we've got it back) all in the name of progress, all in the name of playing in the 'Championship'. Well, frankly, i'd much rather still be a company limited by gaurentee, playing at a ground not shared with a rugby club, even if it meant we were a couple of divisions lower. Wycombe Wanderers should be a community club, looking backwards and looking forwards, not selling the family silver to chase a dream. I want Wycombe to be playing at the highest level they can sustain, and if thats only League One, or League Two, or the Conference, then fair enough.

Thats why history is important. Remember the lessons of the past, whether they are taught by David or Josiah or Len Worley, and apply them to now. Smash the idols, protect the football club.


thebluefish said...

hopefully you'll love the next five supervisions - we'll be hanging out with Solomon, Jehoshaphat, Uzziah, Hezekiah, Josiah...

Anonymous said...

Re Josiah’s reform: The books ‘found’ in the wall of the Temple are thought to have been the Book of Deuteronomy. It is Deuteronomy that espouses the Israelite religion centred around the Temple in Jerusalem (as against temples/Yahwistic cults in other places in Israel). In fact, it is likely that Deuteronomy was actually composed at this time and was alleged to have been ‘found’ in the Temple wall to give the Jerusalem-based theology legitimacy. Wikipedia has a good article on Josiah. See:

Anonymous said...

thanks for that...i actually LOVED the church history slot at team days! certainly rediscovered my passion for history generally! although i'm not enough of a slacker to do a degree in it... :P