August 13, 2019
“How can you know where you’re going, if you don’t know where you come from?”
Have you ever seen the movie, The Jazz Singer? The original film came out in 1927; it was the first movie with sound. We’ve come a long way in less than a hundred years, haven’t we? A remake of the film, The Jazz Singer, came out in 1980. It starred, singer-songwriter, Neil Diamond, and world-renowned actor, Sir Lawrence Olivier.
In the movie, Neil Diamond is supposed to be following in his father’s (Sir Lawrence Olivier’s) footsteps as a Jewish Cantor. But Jess (Neil Diamond) has a dream of being a rock star. After many trials and tribulations, he finally comes to terms with his father, after a very bad falling out, and gives the performance of a lifetime at the end of the movie.
There was a notable moment in the movie that I will never forget, and something Jess’ father says to him that I have used often with my students over the years. During a conversation with his father about his dream of bringing his music to the world, Jess’ father says this in reference to him wanting his son to carry on the family tradition of being a Cantor, “How can you know where you’re going, if you don’t know where you come from?” Another words, how can you really know what you want, if you haven’t experienced the richness of our heritage. (Towards the end of the movie, Jess, does experience it and also pursues his own goals in music.)
I found that statement very profound. Let me take a few moments today and tell you why.
I have long been an advocate of teaching the social sciences in school: history, religion, social studies, etc. Over the years, it seems to have become a less and less important part of our student’s curriculum. Most of their testing, A.C.T. and S.A.T., is in the area of critical reading, math, writing, English, and science. You’ll notice there is no social science in the tests. So when students are preparing and studying for these tests, they focus on the five core subjects I just mentioned. That is also where the focus is as far as subject matter in the schools. Yes, the schools offer, and students do need to take some social science classes, but, it seems like the history and sociology classes are getting lost today.
Because I saw this happening over the years, it was always important to me to bring history lessons into my devotions and Bible studies with my students. Religion is also a social science, and that is, of course, as a called church worker what I taught. I have always felt it was essential to integrate historical facts from our history, American, and world, into my studies with the students.
I often incorporated historical facts concerning wars, wages (1960, the average male made $60 a week), lifestyles, women’s rights, slavery, and why we declared independence from England. It was always amazing to me how little students knew about their countries history.
Again, “How can you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you come from?” I don’t want to get on a soapbox here, but we know history has a tendency to repeat itself in so many ways, so shouldn’t it be important we know and understand our nation’s and worlds history?
The same is true for the Bible and its rich history. As a Christian, I believe that the Bible is God’s Word. No ifs and or buts. It is accurate, and it is the history of God’s creation, our failure as part of that creation, and His saving grace given to us through His Son Jesus, told through people, by God.
And here we are again!
How can we know where we’re going, if we don’t know where we come from?
You’ve heard it all before, but let me reiterate it. As Christians, it’s important that we read the Bible often. It’s our history. The Bible is God’s teachings. The Bible is filled with stories of imperfect people just like you and me that God chose to do great things for Him. It is a roadmap from creation, to the fall, to Christ’s death on the cross for our sins, His resurrection, and the story of the early church.
The Bible is our history. It tells us where we came from, and even more importantly, it guides us, through God’s Holy Spirit, and tells us where we’re going. Because of God’s Grace and our Faith in what His Son Jesus accomplished on the cross, the forgiveness of our sins, we, you and I, are going to be with Him in eternity.
That is where we come from, and that is where we’re going.
Read about your history, read the Bible.
Joe Guagliardo (Joe G)