Monday, June 30, 2008

Can We Do Better?

I think one of the best uses of history is to help us look at ourselves in comparison. Consider this self-characterization by an Athenian citizen in ancient days:

We love beauty with simplicity, and we love the pursuit of knowledge without effeminacy. We employ wealth properly, for use rather than for noisy display, and we do not consider poverty to be a disgrace but do regard it as shameful for someone not to seek to escape poverty through labor. We citizens of Athens care for both our own domestic concerns and for the affairs of state; those of us engaged in business are not lacking in understanding of public matters. For we alone consider those who avoid engagement in public affairs not as "uninvolved" but as useless. And we, as we judge and reflect carefully on matters, do not consider words to be a hindrance to actions. Rather, the real hindrance to action is to enter into whatever must be done without taking forewarning through discussion.

--"Pericles Extols the Virtues of Athenian Culture. From the funeral oration of Pericles, as reported in Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, 2.40, trans. by Duane Garrett." From my Archaeological Study Bible, commentary on the sidebar to Acts 17-18.

[Apollos] vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. --Acts 18:28

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