Recently, I was looking around the internet for some inspiration. One of the posts that I read was called “Stop dressing so tacky for church.” It was an older post, all the points had been pretty thoroughly argued – but I had the sense that the real point of the
article was: “Why can’t things be like they were in the 1950’s?”
More and more I look into various topics, I’m seeing that the church has major nostalgia issues with the 1950’s or the 1960’s or the 1970’s or the 1980’s – oftentimes older members will say something like: “You should have seen the revival we had going on back in (insert random date from before you were born) … the pews were full of people!” It’s as if they got the formula right back then and haven’t changed since then, hoping that it’s just a matter of time and the people will be back … again, eventually. (This strategy might work if there was a time machine involved and they could live over the last two or three decades in a row. There has been a lot of change from the ’50s to the ’60s to the ’70s to the ’80s to the ’90s to the right now – people might not respond the same way to what worked back then – we might be just too different.)
To a degree, nostalgia makes sense. If you grew up watching Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best, wouldn’t you crave the simplicity of life those shows represented, even if you know they weren’t really true-to-life? Likewise, I’m from the generation that grew up watching Family Matters and Full House and sometimes even I miss that
simplicity … especially in this chaotic world. But, as much as I miss the shows I grew up watching, I would not want to re-live any particular decade to see them. (Perhaps I just know too much history for my own good.)
The problem with nostalgia is that it always emphasizes the positive experiences over the negative ones. There was plenty of things about the past that were wrong – that resulted in social change, the ingredients were all there, even if you were too young to understand what was going on around you. Nostalgia will remember churches full of people, but forget the tragedy that drove them there.
Nostalgia will make you spend so much time missing everything that’s gone about the past that you loved and forgetting everything about the past that you hated, that you miss out on everything there is to love about the present.