Friday, August 7, 2009

Would the Fathers Understand Our Times?

"And the streets don't change, but maybe the names."
-Guns N' Roses, Patience

PEOPLE HAVE NOT CHANGED much. We were unkind to one another in the third century, we are unkind today. We ignored the needy then, we ignore them now, too. We chased every selfish desire then and we run headlong after them today.

Consider, for example, the assessment made by secular English historian Edward Gibbon in his classic The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, of the time and place in which St. John Chrysostom served:
The warmth of the climate disposed the natives to the most intemperate enjoyment of tranquility and opulence, and the lively licentiousness of the Greeks was blended with the hereditary softness of the Syrians. Fashion was the only law, pleasure the only pursuit, and the splendor of dress and furniture was the only distinction of the citizens of Antioch. The arts of luxury were honored, the serious and manly virtues were the subject of ridicule, and the contempt for female modesty and reverent age announced the universal corruption of the capital of the East.*
The streets we travel down don't change much, just the names we give them. A person can ignore the Fathers and/or disagree with them, but to dismiss their wisdom as inapplicable is to ignore common threads in human nature and history.

Gibbon, Edward. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ch. 24 (quoted by Schaff, Philip, in Prologomena to the Works of St. John Chrysostom)

1 comment:

elgreca262 said...

wonderful. The Golden Mouth speaking timeless truth. I have included this quote on my blog.