Saturday, July 01, 2006

Personal Notes II

This is a continuation of some personal reflections that I started in March.

Blogging is a backwards way to journal. I wish it had started with posts scrolling from the top instead of the bottom. Reading them in order would be more natural. It wouldn't be necessary to stop at the end of every post, move retrograde trying not to miss (or deliberately skip) something small, and read the preceding posts one at a time. NOT user-friendly at all...

As I was putting together this morning's posts I thought about an old bible my mother passed on to my generation that will have to be passed on to the next. Many families have old bibles, but this one may be older than most. It was printed in 1805 and there is an inscription at one place that says "Earnest [name]'s bible, bought in the 60th year of my age, 1806."

The covers are missing and all that remains of the New Testament is most of the Gospels. The family records section appears after the Apocrypha, and there is one loose piece of paper that seems to be from the front of another smaller bible even older than the first. This is a great trust and I have asked my children to consider who among them is most likely to pass on such a treasure. No one outside the family will have any use for it, and I have seen enough Antiques Road Show to know it is in such poor condition that it has no monetary value.

But thinking about the age of this book, two hundred years, is humbling. Our progenitor who owned this bible would have been a young man when the Declaration of Independence was written, and would have passed on before the Civil War was fought. He came from a different era and would be shocked to hear some of the news to which we now pay little attention.

Part of my imagination as I listened to the reading of the Declaration of Independence mentioned earlier was thinking about this long-gone relative and how he and his peers might regard today's version of the Republic that was not yet formed when they were alive. Would they regard it as the defender of liberty, independence and freedom that they saught to fashion? Or would they instead regard our place in the world, the biggest of the super-powers, as more like the imperial power of the British Crown, from which they sought "a separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them..."

NPR Link.

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