“Mama, What Are These?”

by Tom Wacaster

Occasionally I stop at the local Good Will to drop something off and while there I take a few minutes to peruse the books they have on display. Most of what lines the shelves of the “book department” at Good Will is either out of date (terribly out of date), or the books don’t contain anything of interest to me. I never found a lot of sense in purchasing a manual on Microsoft Windows 94 some two decades after that operating system went by the wayside. If you still own an old Windows 94 computer and are needing some brushing up on that particular operating system, and just can’t find any help online, you might try making a quick trip down to the local Good Will and check in their “book department.”  This is not to say that my book shopping at Good Will has never been fruitful. I have, on occasion, come across some good books at the Good Will. But my experience has been that Half-Priced-Books is a better place to find good used books.

It has been at least twenty years since the following occurred, but it seems like only yesterday. On that particular occasion I had found a book that I wanted to purchase, and as I headed for the checkout counter, I passed several boxes filled to the brim with old 45 r.p.m. records (those are the records with the large hole in the center, usually containing one single from the artist on each side). There was a young lad about five years of age who, looking into this large box of old records, asked his mother, “Momma, what are these plastic disks with holes in them?” No answer was forthcoming. Perhaps his mother did not know; in fact, I don’t think she had any idea what those little “plastic disks” were.  I paused for a moment to flip through some of those old records, and as I did, I wondered to myself how long it would be before those old 45’s became as extinct as the even older 78 r.p.m.’s (those were the thick records with the tiny hole in the center). If technology continues its present pace of changes and upgrades the day will come when the very mention of 45 r.p.m. ’s will conjure up memories of a bygone era, or even worse, conjure up no memories at all.

It has probably been thirty years or more since the Statler Brothers wrote and produced a song reflecting upon the “good ole’ days” of the 50’s and 60’s. It was titled, ‘Do You Remember These?’ The song contains a veritable “catalogue of nostalgia.” Harold Statler once commented with regard to that song, “We’re always collecting old films, comics, memorabilia. We’re always asking each other, ‘Do you remember this? Do you remember that?’ That’s how we came up with the song just from our everyday conversations. We could have gone on forever. As it was, we had to cut out half of it because it was too long.”  For those who are at least as old as I am, see if any of these items in that song conjure up memories of the past: “Saturday morning serials, chapters one through fifteen; fly paper, penny loafers, lucky strike three; flat tops, sock hops, Studebaker, ‘Pepsi please’; cigar bands on your hand, your Daddy’s socks rolled down.”  Or what about: “Aviator caps with flaps that button down; movie stars on Dixie Cup tops; nickers to your knees [that one is even before my time]; peddle-pushers, and duck tail hair; Howdy Doody, and tootie-fruitie; Cracker Jack prize, fender skirts, double root-beer floats; Ah, do you remember these?”

Most of the things listed in that old Statler Brothers’ song have long since vanished.  This generation knows little of those things mentioned in the song for two reasons: (1) they became outmoded and outdated; (2) the memory of those things was not passed along to the next generation. Herein lies the point we want to make.  The Lord’s church is older than any of those old 45’s, or those things about which the Statler Brothers sang. Every generation has the sacred obligation of perpetuating the truths of God’s word to the next generation. That old story will never be outmoded or outdated. It may be forgotten by some, but it will always be relevant and up to date. Not everyone in our country is aware of the truths that many of us were taught when we were a child. We are increasingly confronted with questions, the answers to which we often take for granted: “Who is this ‘God’ you talk about?” “What is this book you call the Bible?” “What do you mean by ‘the undenominational nature of the church,’ or this thing you call ‘the church of Christ?” “Why don’t you use instrumental music in your worship?” The same applies to the moral standard that characterized our beloved nation only a half century ago. The younger generation has forgotten the values of our parents and grandparents for the simple reason that (1) Christianity has been criticized as being outmoded, out of date and non-relevant, and (2) some have failed to keep in memory those eternal truths passed along to them by others.

It has often been said, “Apostasy is only one generation away.” I fear that the day may come when I hear some child in a Good Will store come across a copy of the Bible and ask his mother, “Momma, what is this book?” But what I fear even more is that when that question is asked by an inquiring child, his mother will not know how to answer. 

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