Thursday, May 30, 2024

Learning lessons from History


All photos courtesy of Unsplash


I was thinking about what to write, and as part of selecting a topic, I was browsing the Liverpool Echo website online. Not only was I shocked by the variety of news items, but I was amazed that the ‘Echo’ has been doing its job of communicating news for so long - it was first published in 1879. 


That got me thinking. How long have the local newspapers on the Wirral been publishing, and how many have ‘gone the way of all the earth’? The oldest one I came across was the ‘Birkenhead and Cheshire Advertiser’, printed from 1863 to 1946. No doubt someone will know of an older paper. If you do, get in touch and pass the information on. Newspapers began appearing across Europe and the UK as early as the 1600s.


While researching, I discovered that the Wirral Archives Service holds bound volumes of at least seventeen local newspaper titles that are no longer published. You can book a visit if you want to look at any of them.


What is the point of keeping all these old newspapers? Well, they often give us a flavour of what life was like back then. They are generally accurate and often are the primary record of events and local happenings. If we were more aware of past events, we might avoid making the same mistakes today. Winston Churchill famously said, ‘Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it’. One day, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives, gazing down the hillside across the Kidron Valley. As He people watched, He pondered the history of the city. He lamented that they had been slow to learn the lessons of history. It was one of the few times when Jesus was recorded as weeping. 


I am not suggesting you get a stack of old newspapers, look for things that went wrong and then make sure you don’t make the same mistakes. My point is that we have ample records of the shortcomings of humanity not only in the newsprint of yesteryear but in the ancient records of the historical Biblical scriptures. We have clear warnings that choices and actions have consequences in every area of life. Yet we persist in ignoring the sound advice we need to prepare for living in this life and the world.


Suppose there is one lesson that the past and present news items teach us. It is that humans are part of a morally fallen race - the Bible concurs when it says, ‘all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,’ Romans 3. 23. But, if there is one message that doesn’t often get into newsprint but is worthy of publishing across the world it is found in the Gospel of John chapter 3 verses 16 + 17, ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.


Browse the newsprint of past and present, read the ancient yet modern Holy Scriptures of the Bible, but don’t forget to learn the lessons of history.


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