We've all seen the cookbooks for a society with amnesia, whose devotion to the supposedly liberating powers of progress and technology has brought us to the point where someone has to instruct us how to boil water. When it looked like the burdens of history and tradition would hobble our confident march into the future, we lopped off our memory, as if tradition was what was holding us back. But now we have to prop ourselves up with mnemonic prosthetics. It turns out forgetting hobbles progress too.
Strung between novelty and nostalgia, a biblical imagination remembers forward. The remembering enjoined by the Torah looks forward to a "time to come" (Deut. 6:20). The biblical command to remember is written in the future tense.
It is this vision of faithful, honest, hopeful memory that we explore in this issue of Comment. Our hope is staked on memory. Those Christians who want to be faithfully present in contemporary society do well to cultivate ancient friendships.
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