There are few things more intriguing and fun than garage sales. I am always fascinated by the variety of things offered.
The old statement is certainly true: “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” Through the years I have found a number of treasures, mostly unneeded, many of which will probably be featured in our family’s next garage sale!
One 50-cent purchase recently was a book entitled, “Documents for the Study of the Gospels”. Published both in England and the United States, it proved to be an intriguing study of ancient books which related to the Scriptures.
My favorite portion was 40 pages from “The Life of Moses” written by Philo of Alexandria (c.30B.C. - 50 A.D.). Philo was a member of one of the wealthiest and most influential families of Alexandria and also enjoyed Roman citizenship.
I was particularly intrigued by the introduction, in which Philo gives his reason for writing. He felt that others should have written more about Moses; but since they had not, he decided to undertake the task.
Equally fascinating to me was his commentary on writers and readers of his own era which could have been written as appropriately today as it was then.
Writing of them Philo says: “They waste what they have acquired through education in composing poems and long-winded narratives that are supposed to be funny, filled with voluptuous licentiousness, and notoriously shameful.”
He continued: “Rather they should use their natural abilities for the sake of instruction to be gained from telling about good men and their lives, lest anything that is good, whether ancient or recent, be deprived of the light it might give.
“If they had done this, they would not seem so constantly to ignore noble things in order to turn our attention to things not worth hearing, telling wicked stories elegantly just for the sake of revealing something disgusting.”
Philo was writing during the time when Jesus walked the earth, but his words are as true and applicable today as they were nearly 2,000 years ago.
I am constantly amazed at the garbage and trash which continually pours from magazines, books, and television screens. Nothing is foreign; nothing is taboo. All forms of baseness, licentiousness, and mayhem are foisted on the reading and viewing public.
In this I am referring not only to paid channels of television but also to the regular networks. Parents can control much of what comes into the home, but there is difficulty controlling this medium. Some of the worst comes from the so-called “talk shows” in the morning hours and soap operas in the afternoon. Many of the movies shown and often seen by children nowadays would have been banned from theaters only a few years ago.
Although I am no prude, I cannot believe that this is the type of entertainment demanded by the public. I refuse to believe that or standards of decency and civility have deteriorated so precipitously. Our children and youth are the ones so adversely affected.
It is time for concerned persons to say to the industry, “Enough”, not only by refusing to view such but also by communicating displeasure to media and advertisers. Censorship? No. Expression of concern and influence? Yes!
Philo may have lived almost two millennia ago, but his message is timely still.
Dr. Fred Andrea is the pastor of Aiken’s First Baptist Church.