No. 178



A while back my daughter gave me one of those not so small, refrigerator magnets that has a line drawing of an old antique automobile. It has the words "Dad Is A Classic" printed on it. There was a time in my life when I thought someone who was sixty years of age had one foot in the grave and the other one on a banana peeling. But now that I have reached that magic number, it's not so bad and I certainly don't feel old. In fact, mentally I feel better and fresher than anytime in my life.

One of the advantages that I have now that I didn't have when I was much younger is that I see things from a different perspective. I have lived long enough to not only see and experience some of our wonderful modern inventions like the television, jet airplanes, the cotton picker, computer, digital sound and the Internet, but I was also around when life was much simpler.

While it may be just wishful thinking, I would like for us to be able to hold on to the best of both worlds. Wouldn't it be great to have all the modern conveniences that we have today, like those in a modern kitchen for example, and not have the massive social and enviormental problems that were not so evident thirty to forty years ago? Again to place things in perspective, please consider this: since 1960 there has been a 560% increase in violent crime, more than a 400% increase in illegitimate births, a quadrupling in divorce rates, a tripling in the percentage of children living in single parent homes and a 200% increase in teenage suicides. This may be the reason there is a massive wave of nostalgia that sweeps over many of us from time to time.

Because I'm not dumb, I know it's impossible to live in the past, but we can hold on to some of the traditional values that have served to make our nation the greatest in the history of the world. There are many symbols of the past, but one that holds special meaning for me is "The Old Country Church." I grew up in a small town and was not around when it was most prominent, but I'm reminded of it's virtues each time I hear these words set to music, "Oh, I'd love to go back to that old country Church and to hear the songs of praise. How the people would sing..It would make the heavens ring, in that old country Church".

A few days ago I was reminiscing with a friend and we were trying to decide on an era or period of time in our nation's history when "The Old Country Church" played the most prominent and significent role in our culture. We finally settled on a time that was before the advent of television and maybe just prior to most people owning an automobile. From what I have read and seen on television, it was back in the days when a father would hitch up a team of horses or mules and the family would ride to Church in a wagon. There were few large buildings or meeting places in those days and the Church was more or less the center of the community.

When people went to Church on Sunday it was a all day affair; preaching, singing, dinner on the grounds and kids running everywhere. Many people were married in the Church and were usually buried in the nearby cemetery. During these hard times families prayed together and stayed together and the values that were taught, both in the Church and the home, made it possible for us to become a great nation. These were also the people who volunteered for military service and made it possible for our nation to win two world wars. In a very real sense, those of us living today owe our very freedom to these people. In case you didn't already know, or had never thought about what I've shared, the next time you hear the song, "The Old Country Church", I hope you will be reminded of what these good people have done for us. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)