Déjà vu?

August 24, 2018

 

It’s often said that everything old is new again, which is a pretty broad generalisation and, for me, only partly true.


Think about 12-inch, vinyl LP recordings which are making a comeback—especially at Salvos Stores and Thrift Shops. As we dust off our long-neglected turntable and check the pickup stylus, we purists are rejoicing.


But, Houston, we have a problem! Those handy compact discs happily play in our car sound systems but how in the name of all things old and new can we play a vinyl LP on the move? Ah yes, of course, we need an app that allows us to digitise the LP analogue signal then copy it to our favourite handheld device which talks so nicely to Bluetooth. 


So please help me understand which part of the old is actually new again. Of course we are now more than a little sorry we sent our record albums display cabinet to the charity shop a few decades ago. 


So when playing our old and new LPs do we feel the urge to go back to valve technology? Vacuum tubes, we are told, deliver a much purer sound for the benefit of our purist ears, and what a joy to bathe ourselves in such true high fidelity.


But let’s not forget that partly true quote that everything old is new again—or will be, given enough time and clever marketing. Old, old revisited, or innovatively brand- new—what’s best? Does it matter? It’s really about having something better.


Perhaps our desire for better hi-fi systems points to our human impulse for this supposedly something better. As an average Aussie I believe we do have a sense that things could be improved—that we could be better people, that we are made for higher purposes. So I wonder where this nagging sense of discontentment comes from and how best we can make sense of it. I’m still not totally certain.


However, one thing I am certain about is that Jesus Christ had a handle on this. In one of his many stories recorded in the Bible, Jesus spoke of a householder who brought out of his treasure house things new and old. So Jesus was not against modernity, nor did he suggest the old was inferior to the new. Old and new attitudes and behaviours may be treasured and are beneficial if they add to the well-being of others and ourselves. 


But the rub comes when we need to make personal changes for the better. Christians find that prayer and the teachings of Jesus are a source of strength that allow the best of all our old and new to flourish together. 


German philosopher Immanuel Kant said the test of the rightness of any action was that everyone could do it without harm to anyone. I think Jesus would have given Kant a high five for that. What about you? 

 

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