A Diary of Writing Wisdom (and other nonsense) by new LWI Team Member @JERoyle

#1

Newer Doesn’t Always Mean Better

In all areas of life—and reading and writing is no exception—there is a psychological pressure to accept the current edition/the newest “thing-a-ma-jig” as the superior.

The argument of “newer-is-better” assumes that a modern idea should be preferred to an ancient one simply because it is modern. This way of thinking has a long history, going back at least to the Athenians of the Apostle Paul’s day who “liked to spend all their time telling and hearing the latest new thing” (Acts 17:21).

Jason Royle Photo at History Museum in DC.
Jason Royle Photo from History Museum in DC.

The pressure to keep up-to-date is stronger now than it has ever been. The results of this pressure can be seen all around us. Take the clothing industry for example. The stores today do not sell “clothes” (they do, I know, in a sense, but stick with me and let me make my point). No, they sell “fashions.” Back when they sold clothes, the fabric was durable and designed to last for years. But fashions change from year to year and from season to season.

One resource I find myself still using on a regular basis is John Bartlett’s book Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, first published in 1855. All of the quotes in the book you can probably find online somewhere, but what you won’t find is the underlined, smudged, musty smelling pages of my old friend. There is something beautiful about something old. Timeworn with dignity (as the saying goes; actually I’m not certain that is really an old saying, but it sounds good).

All the old books on our shelves speak to us: “Look how useful I have been,” they say. When it comes to literature, they don’t call them “classics” for nothing! They’re classic because the information contained within them has stood the test of time.

I imagine every author will come face to face with the harsh reality that “newer doesn’t always mean better” at some point in their life. Especially after the years have gone by and one day we hand to one of our grandchildren the book we wrote way back in 2010, and hope they take the time to read it and not simply put it on the shelf to collect dust. And why would they do something like that to one of grandma and grandpa’s books they wrote? Well… it’s not new anymore.      

 

Judas Hero MisunderstoodJason serves as the pastor of St. Paul’s UCC in Schaefferstown, PA. He is a graduate of Sewanee: University of the South School of Theology with a Doctorate in Ministry and Johnson University with a Master’s in Theology. He and his wife, Heather, have two children (Katelyn and Nate) and one loyal but lazy dog (Rudy). You can find his book, Judas: Hero Misunderstood on Amazon. Connect with Jason on his site, http://www.jasonroyle.net/ and on Twitter at .

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10 thoughts on “A Diary of Writing Wisdom (and other nonsense) by new LWI Team Member @JERoyle”

  1. I have two thoughts on reading this:
    1) This is why my clothes keep wearing out, they are designed to.
    2) I can’t help wondering how many excellent stories disappeared without trace due to poor sales. I have a battered copy of a book called John Halifax Gentleman. A wonderful book from the 19th Century that nobody has ever heard of.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. #1: Interestingly, the oldest pair of blue jeans in the Levi’s archive dates back to 1879. My last pair of blue jeans barely lasted five years.
      #2: I can’t help but think about all the unknown masterpieces that disappeared when the Great Library of Ancient Alexandria was burned. Some scholars estimate a loss of almost 1/2 million ancient scrolls never to be retrieved.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I suppose I’m older and very much out of fashion, but I personally have always treasured the old over the new. In literature the classics remain a level or two above everything else out there. Much harm, too, is done by the current marketing practices and marketing’s dominance of the market.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Note: the prevailing notion throughout human’s history was that of a decline from a fabled golden age. Only in the past hundred years has the idea that we are progressing been popular – which is puzzling because my new iPhone has crumby reception.

        Like

  3. There are some valid points here, but I can’t help but think of antique shops where people shop for old items or garage sales where I’ve know people to come across some terrific deals on old items to refurbish for their homes.
    Much of the new is better than old is driven by industry. After all, companies would not fare well if they didn’t keep pushing the idea that you need that new updated cell phone, that luxurious new car, gorgeous updated dining room set, or a new updated wardrobe. They are in it to make money – period. If they don’t convince people they need the “new and better”, they simply won’t make as much money.

    Liked by 1 person

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