Sunday afternoon found me at a meeting of the Lubbock Heritage Society, a small group dedicated to the historical preservation and discovery of area that became Lubbock. The meeting took place on the Texas Tech University campus at the Southwest Collections Building, and the featured speaker was Dr. Paul Carlson, professor emeritus of history at Texas Tech University. To be truthful, seeing the story in the newspaper last week that mentioned Dr. Carlson would be the speaker was what drew me to the event more than anything else. I've studied under Dr. Carlson, and even as a snot-nosed fraternity brat at the age of an 18 - 22 year old student, I found him to be engaging.
What you learn with age is that you wish you had engaged the minds of these men and women who taught you when you were in college more. Dr. Carlson is still sharp and witty. He writes (22 books so far I believe they said) and focuses primarily on this region. He said a couple of things yesterday that I jotted down, thinking to myself that they would become useful later. The first was that a historian needs to be "correct, honest, and true." Correct. Honest. True. The historian needs to be correct in his or her assessment of the past which means supporting what you are saying with information from that era or documented evidence from that era from others who have studied it. Honest in formative opinion or in the usage of others materials. Nothing is worse than lifting material or creating material that doesn't exist to support your assessment. True. "Truth is relative" is an assessment of the now and can be argued, but truth is relative doesn't really apply to history. Facts begin to unfold and show the true nature of that history. Discovery of documents, release of information, and new information begins to shed light on events from our past. Truth then becomes an argument to what the information says, based on a view of that history.
"Myth and majority opinion are not always the truth," Carlson said later, "It's hard to kill a myth." Kennedy was killed by something dark and sinister and larger than all of us. Kennedy was assassinated by a dark government operative so secret that even knowledge of the event puts you in jeopardy. Books have been written and facts stated that are convincing about such, yet as more light gets shed on the subject (the release of the secrets held in the Warren Commission for example on the 50th anniversary of the event), we learn that it is possible that Oswald acted alone. Yet the myth won't die. People are convinced it is true.
What do we learn from Dr. Carlson's observations on the merits of a historian? Well, we learn that they apply to the professed Christian as well. We should act in a manner that is correct, honest, and true, both as a body of believers and as we go out into the world as "lights." As Paul writes in that familiar verse from Philippians 4, "Whatever is true... honorable... just... pure... lovely... commendable..., if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (4:8) When we speak to one another, do we speak in love and truth? When we speak of others or talk about others, do we speak in love and truth and in honor of those people and leave unflattering details out of such conversation? Do we realize that what becomes "truth" about someone, even though it may not be (myth), is difficult to correct once the "story" is out there, so are we constructive in our conversation about others?
Pray that whatever we say or how ever we act toward others are worthy of praise and that we continue to intentionally "think about these things."
Hope Men's Ministry