Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2017
Texts: Jeremiah 40:7-16; Jeremiah 41-43; Exodus 16:3; Numbers 16:13; Jeremiah 44
Some of us remember the bad old days. We audiophiles recall the scratches, skips, pops, warps, dusty static, and all the other frustrating annoyances that prevented us from truly enjoying the pure fidelity of our favorite music on vinyl LPs. Some of us remember the joy at hearing the clean, irritation-free listening experience of our first compact disk. At last, no more scratches, skips, pops, warps, or dusty static to spoil our musical enjoyment! That’s why the current trend back to vinyl LPs is causing many of us to scratch our heads.
According to Newsweek, the revival of vinyl is motivated by nostalgia for the “antithesis of digital streaming,” large and fragile disks housed in cardboard sleeves that produce a distinctly un-digital crackle when the similarly outdated diamond needle is placed (or dropped) in the groove. A major draw cited in the comeback of vinyl is its distinctive lack of audio cleanness and perfection—what fans call the “warmth” of the vinyl sound. This audio feature is produced by the flaws inherent within analogue sound production, due to—as sound engineer Andreas Lubich explains—“distortion, and in the best case, harmonic distortion.”1
Huh? Isn’t that why many of us dispatched our extensive record collections to our local thrift stores all those years ago? Our new digital music collections meant no more distortion-inducing inherent flaws to contend with. Many of us can’t understand why anyone would want to go back to the bad old days.
Jeremiah must have scratched his head at the desire of his countrymen to return to the bad old days of living in Egypt. Didn’t they believe the stories of their ancestors? Did they forget about the days when a new pharaoh who didn’t know Joseph made them slaves? Did the epic adventure of their miraculous escape become just a ho-hum Sabbath school story? Couldn’t they, just once, listen to Jeremiah and stay put in Palestine where God wanted them to live? Hadn’t he proved his prophetic worth with his accurate portrayal of the Babylonian invasion of Judah? And to make it worse, why did they have to drag him along with them?
Their decision doesn’t make any more sense to us today than it did to Jeremiah twenty-five hundred years ago. What makes people yearn to go back to the perceived “good old days” when a quick history lesson reveals that the good old days were, frankly, pretty bad? Our lesson this week looks at the events surrounding the Jews’ return to Egypt. This study can also dig deeper into the question of why people have such short memories about the bad old, good old days. Why do we sometimes forget the lessons of the past? One answer, as stated in the lesson, is that “human nature is human nature.”
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