2251) The Good Old Days

The song Grandpa, Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days went to Number One on the Country Music charts in 1986.  It was written by Jamie O’Hara and recorded by The Judds:

Grandpa, Tell me ’bout the good old days.

Sometimes it feels like
This world’s gone crazy.
Grandpa, take me back to yesterday,
Where the line between right and wrong
Didn’t seem so hazy.

Did lovers really fall in love to stay
Stand beside each other come what may
was a promise really something people kept,
Not just something they would say and then forget
Did families really bow their heads to pray
Did daddies really never go away
Whoa oh Grandpa,
Tell me ’bout the good old days.

Everything is changing fast.
We call it progress,
But I just don’t know.
And Grandpa, let’s wander back into the past,
And paint me a picture of long ago…


     We should, of course, enjoy the blessings God gives us each and every day, without looking back and wishing for an earlier time and place that was better, or as we say, “the ‘good old days.”  But this does not mean we should not look back and see if there is anything of value we can learn from those old days; values and beliefs and behaviors that are worth preserving.   This song by The Judds does a good job of getting that message across, as do the following quotes and verses. 


Two quotes by Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) on the importance of religious tradition:

Tradition is democracy extended through time. Tradition means giving a vote to that most obscure of all classes, our ancestors.  Tradition is the democracy of the dead.  Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant tyranny of those who are walking about.”

“I freely confess to all the idiotic ambitions of the end of the nineteenth century.  I did, like all other solemn little boys, try to be in advance of the age.  Like them, I tried to be some ten minutes in advance of the truth.  And I found that I was eighteen hundred years behind it…  I am the man who with the utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before.”  (He was writing about the unbelief of his youth, and then, as a young adult, his rediscovery of the truth of the Christian faith.)


“Out of every hundred new ideas, ninety-nine or more will probably be inferior to the traditional responses which they propose to replace.  No one man, however brilliant or well-informed, can come in one lifetime to such fullness of understanding as to safely judge and dismiss the customs or institutions of his society, for those are the wisdom of generations after centuries of experiment in the laboratory of history.”

–Will and Ariel Durant, authors of the 11-volume classic The Story of Civilization


“Reading on wise and virtuous subjects is, next to prayer, the best improvement of our hearts.  It enlightens us, calms us, collects our thoughts, and prompts us to better efforts.  We say that a man is known by the friends he keeps; but a man is known even better by his books.”
–William Law (1686-1761), Christian Perfection


“If we cannot live at once and alone with Him, we may at least live with those who have lived with Him; and learn much from their purity, their truth, and their goodness.  To study the lives, to meditate on the sorrows, and to commune with the thoughts of the great and holy men and women of this rich world, is a sacred discipline…  We forfeit a chief source of dignity and sweetness in life, next to the direct communion with God, if we do not seek converse with the greater minds that have left their mark on the world.”   –J. Martineau (paraphrased)

(These emailmeditations are an attempt to put you in touch with some of those great minds and lives.)


“There is divine beauty in learning.  To learn means to accept the fact that life did not begin at my birth.  Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps.  The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and disciples.  I am the sum total of their experiences, and so are you.”    –Elie Wiesel


Jeremiah 6:16  —  Thus saith the Lord, “Stand at the crossroads and look.  Ask for the old paths, and where the good way is.  Walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Job 8:8-10  —  (Bildad the Shuhite said),  “Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers learned, for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow.  Will they not instruct you and tell you?  Will they not bring forth words from their understanding?”

Matthew 13:52  —  (Jesus said), “Every teacher of the Law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”


As we grow older it becomes our task to pass on this wisdom, and especially our faith, to the next generation.  That is the prayer of the Psalmist in Psalm 71:14-18:

As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long—
   though I know not how to relate them all.
I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.