Antique Wisdom for Today’s Problems

on the nightstand now

I like books of all sorts. When I’m interested in a topic I’ll often look for a book on it (after the internet, of course). Feeling middle-aged now and looking for enlightenment on aging, I recently turned to Amazon where I discovered a little gem of a book – The Faith of a Middle-Aged Man, A Little Book of Reassurance for Troubled Times.

There wasn’t much of an editorial description and there were no reviews. Although the release date was 2012, the description did make it clear that it was a reproduction of something much older. (All books published in the United States before 1923 are in the public domain and various firms re-release them, often as photocopies.) I wasn’t really looking for a religious book, but the title was intriguing so I bought it. And I’m very glad I did.

The author is Henry Kingman, Senior Pastor of the Claremont Church in Claremont California. He’s writing in the midst of World War I – the book was released in 1917 – and grappling with all of the social changes going on at the turn of the century. I don’t think Reverend Kingman was “important” or famous; he doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry. As far as I know, he was an ordinary man trying to follow Jesus whatever the social upheaval. I like to think that’s me too.

Basically he’s written a little book on discipleship, and I’m loving it. His times were definitely “troubled” and very different than our own. Yet the inherent nature of the problems or issues of that time – war, suffering, poverty, libertinism, alcoholism, racism and the like – isn’t really all that different than what we face today. Man’s character hasn’t changed since the fall, and God does not change.  Jesus knows our nature, and we follow the same Jesus now as all who have followed.  So a lot of what Kingman writes resonates today, and how interesting it is to read it in the style of the early 1900s!

It’s humbling to be reminded that we who are alive now are not automatically made wiser that all who have come before us. Each of us begins knowing exactly nothing.  Hopefully we learn and grow steadily, becoming wise as we age.  Yet some do, some don’t. Modernity isn’t necessarily helpful here. So much of what “today, we all know…” just isn’t so. As with consumer products, we see a lot of “cheap junk” in the wisdom market.  Sometimes an antique is the better buy.

In any event, I like Kingman’s writing so much that I plan to share excerpts as they relate to topics I’ve written about. So, more to come! I hope that you find it as valuable as do I.