-Wir sein pettler. Hoc est verum.--"We are beggars. This is true."--Martin Luther-

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Friday, October 24, 2008

The Age-Old Myth of Change

I thought these words from Helmut Thielicke express well many of the things many are being fascinated with lately. It is really one of the more human tendencies to dream of change. These words could probibly be read a thousand years from now and mean exactly what they did in the mid twentieth century.

"Utopians have a mobilizing power because they measure the present by the standard of imagined perfection and they condemn it in the name of this standard. They thus give rise to criticism and protest. They do this even when as goals they have no sharp contours but are simply the object of obscure pressure with no clear end in view. Even in this case they trigger the idea of a dialectic of the negative which will later of itself lead from protest to more clear-cut goals.

"Those who see the future in this utopian way, and who are thus critical of the present, can easily play an avant-garde role and downplay all others as reactionaries. Even if they are negative and destructive, few connect this with carping spirit. The shapers of public opinion seem to think that they must be highly visionary and open to the future if they can leave the present and judge it at such a distance. If this were really so, they would be proved right by the future when it comes and they would thus achieve lasting stability. But this is not so. Nothing is more transitory than their programs. Some day a historian ought to write a history of avant-gardists and their criticisms, but I fear that he would need a slow-motion camera to do so. For the fads rise so quickly and then disappear again that the normal organs of sense, even those of a historian, cannot register them. And how comical the idols of the past are when we look back on them."
-Helmut Thielicke, The Hidden Question of God, trans. Geoffry Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1977), 76.

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