Our culture has institutionalized the tradition of anti-traditionalism. Yesterday’s clothes are outmoded; yesterday’s ideas are prehistoric. Each new generation is expected to originate something totally new. New products are created with planned obsolescence. Beanie babies have come and gone; Tickle me Elmos have lost their flare; and Cabbage Patch dolls are a long forgotten craze. For, in order for the market economy to keep going, we’ve always got to produce something new.

Unfortunately the Church has imbibed much of this cultural food. As a result, we suffer from historical amnesia. Imagining that it is the now that matters, we have jumped on the pop culture bandwagon. We believe that spontaneous worship is more spiritual; we expect that our children will go through a period of rebellion; we construct buildings that look like skating rinks. We are planning for obsolescence.

Many of us have begun to recognize the shallowness of this thinking and are returning to older paths. As we do so, we face the very real danger of replacing one sin with another, of replacing anti-traditionalism with empty traditionalism. It will do us no good to replace spontaneity with liturgy; parental abdication with parental training; metal sheds with cathedrals if we do not understand why we are doing so. The remedy to anti-traditionalism, then, is not empty-traditionalism. The remedy to both lies in recovering the biblical imperative of generational thinking. We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.