New is better. That about sums up our American attitude toward all things architectural, from houses, apartment buildings, stores, office buildings, schools, arenas, up to and including entire cities. In the name of expediency, we gleefully tear down old to build new. Ah, progress. Sure, there are some renovation projects here and there, but by and large, the tendency is to clear out the old to make way for the latest and greatest. Now, to be honest, I’m a product of that mindset. I like new, and especially, contemporary architecture. I wouldn’t even have thought of this as a cultural distinctive before I moved to France. But there, as in the rest of Europe, the older, the more honored, treasured, revered almost. Period architecture is to be celebrated, to be highlighted, to be maintained at all cost. The ruined remains of castles and viaducts and cathedrals are things of beauty, among top tourist attractions. A current example of European veneration of aged architecture is the $760,000,000 meticulous restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris following the devastating fire there five years ago (the grand reopening of this iconic, much-loved landmark will be six whole months of special events from December 2024 – June 2025). So, admittedly, we’re the lightweights in the ‘blessing of the old’ department.

I think an unintended upshot of ‘new is better,’ is the subtle devaluing of what has existed for a time. Of course, archival documents in some musty vault have enormous appeal for some, but for many others, there isn’t much allure in a tattered, barely readable, text on fragile, yellowed paper. And it’s here that this approach to things ancient intersects with another document – God’s Word. Has it, with the passing of millennia, lost potency? Is it somehow to be relegated to things ‘then?’ Has the content become, like other writings of its age, non-applicable to the age in which we live? Are we to consider its ‘copyright’ to have expired, liberating it to public domain, and therefore, wide open to public opinion? Has God wearied of His Word and moved on to new and better thoughts and instructions that are more amenable (read: less offensive) to 21st Century living? OR, is the Word still inviting us to a vibrant, unstoppable kingdom, still penetrating darkness, still transforming souls, still bringing eternal life to millions, even today? Is there a wedding banquet being prepared, still with that famous, open-ended invitation? Is the Age-Old Word still new, still old-better?  PD

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