Historical Perspective


I’m not sure where this sits exactly within these forums, but this seemed as good a place as any.

As someone with a strong sense of historical perspective, and an interest in how I’m living compared to most, I just thought I’d offer the following observations, seeing my own life and the lives of my contemporaries in the light of 2000 years of Christian history. Comparing myself against these historical norms, I feel deeply inadequate.

Historically speaking, for me to be in full-time study at the age of 26 (and not a monk) is very odd indeed.

Historically speaking, to be single at the age of 26 is almost unheard of.

For me to be in church every week beside numerous young women but not looking to marry any of them because I’m not ‘in love’ with any of them, and for none of the older members of the congregation to seek to do anything to change this situation, is extremely odd.

To live in a country that’s fighting 2 foreign wars and not be made to join the army to fight in those wars is a historical anomaly.

To have travelled to 12 countries in my lifetime, yet lived more than 25 of my 26 years in only one, is unheard of, and would be viewed as a pointless extravagence by most people in history.

By the time I’d finished High School, St Francis of Assisi had already gone away to train as a mercenary, failed, returned to his home in disgrace, been converted, and spent a year wandering as a holy man awaiting the first followers for the founding of his order!


Not to mention that my totally average middle class standard of living would be the utter envy of ANY king or emperor as little as 150 years ago.

None of them had AC, central heat with humidifier, automobiles, TV/movies, hifi stereo, hot running water on demand, modern medicine, airplane travel, refridgeration…

Its a nice reality check when you start feeling sorry for yourself or envious of the ‘rich’ Duh! I AM the rich by any historical objective standard.


It’s not really a historical anomaly to be 26 and unmarried, but it is true that if you were still single at your age and not living with your parents, your elders would be seriously trying to fix you up with someone or suggesting you become a monk, as it could take years to save for a wedding and honeymoon once you were engaged, and gettign engaged meant talking a whole family into it, not just one woman. So, if you met someone you wanted to marry today and she agreed tomorrow, it could still take until you were past 30 to tie the knot. Of course, you would have to be a virgin until then unless you were rich, brave and within walking distance of a house of ill-repute, and the kind to cheat. That would, however, be taking your life in your hands. So 26 wouldn’t be unusual to get married, but it would be a little worrisome to your parents if you weren’t at least engaged by then, and if you didn’t have anyone in particular in mind by 26, they would be urging you to be a monk rather than spend your life alone.
To live alone, yet be eating well, having parties and enjoying a comfortable temperature would be strange at any age. It took a certain amount of co-operation to make a living efficiently enough to have anything extra until recently.
To study full-time at any age at all was very strange if you weren’t a monk. It was understood that the most important thing a child could learn was religion and the second most important was a trade, and then social and family life, and then academic knowledge if the child had any energy left. But people knew children were determined to play, so betwen apprenticeship training, church life, houshold chores, sleep, eating and play, when would they study?


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