Sometimes the books I’m reading simultaneously seem to be speaking to each other... today is no different.
Fahrenheit 451 was rather chilling when I read it years ago. This time it’s almost brought me to tears. There is imagery throughout the work of remembering and forgetting. The books are burned because they were already abandoned and forgotten, the ideas within them discarded long before the pages themselves. Society is rushing headlong into collective amnesia, deadening their senses and memories and feelings with speed and meaningless entertainment and various drugs of choice. Ideas provoke discontent. Ideas are offensive. Ideas wake them up to reality. Ideas are the enemy.
The ideas must burn.
Psalm 78 is also about remembering and forgetting. Israel had been the keeper of the testimony of God’s ways and work- they were to pass this truth to their children and their children’s children, that they would know and not forget. But the truth was the enemy.
“They did not keep God’s covenant, but refused to walk according to His law. They forgot His works and the wonders He had shown them.” (Ps 78:10-11).
They tried to satisfy themselves with everything else but the truth. The truth was offensive. The truth would set them free, but they chose bondage instead.
What is the remedy? Repentance- recognizing our wrongness and turning around- and remembrance.
In F451, Montag, the main character, meets a group of former academics who are living in exile. Each one of them thinks of himself as a living book, storing those words they had read within them until one day in the future those texts will be wanted again.
“We are all bits and pieces of history and literature and international law, Byron, Tom Paine, Machiavelli or Christ, it’s here.” They themselves were the books, waiting for society to repent and desire remembrance.
As followers of Jesus in a world burning the truth down around us, are we repenting, remembering, passing it to the next generation? Or are we distracting ourselves numb?
“...arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God.” (Ps 78:6-7)
Hold on. Store up. Pass down.