Though not desiring to speak for anyone else, it would appear based on their own words, that historians such as Will and Ariel Durant and authors and poets as diverse as William Shakespeare, Samuel Clemens, Helen Keller, John Steinbeck, Isaac Asimov, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Buffy Sainte-Marie, among a great many others, have discovered over time through personal research experience, that the following axiom is indeed true regarding history and the Bible:  One cannot hope to comprehend the Bible in any great contextual clarity without a solid historical background and likewise, one cannot hope to comprehend the history of human civilization without a mental library of Biblical knowledge and ideas.  Unfortunately, this fundamental ‘catch-22’ of wisdom’s reality seems to be entirely lost on modern Christian conservative religionists, the American Civil Liberties Union and our modern-day prophets of erstwhile education theory, alike.

       Likewise, the importance of human history as being the central trunk of true educational theory and endeavor cannot be overestimated, as a comprehensive understanding of our past in relation to the not so peaceable present, is paramount to both effectively comprehending the arts, general sciences and other disciplines and the formulation of wise positive ideas and directions for the survival and quality of life of our species.  As several students of knowledge education have eventually concluded, one cannot logically hope to progress in a positive fashion if one does not learn from past mistakes and likewise, we cannot hope for world peace and social justice if we fail to comprehend and correct the errors of our civilization’s habitual Human Rights suppression and insecure violent past.

       Although lifetime study of history, art and the general sciences usually involves a great deal of overlapping method sprinkled with significant amounts of factual diversity, three primary approaches for the study of our species’ past and another, fairly recent method, are perhaps worthy of mention.  One way, of course, is that familiar method normally used in grades one through twelve, which tends to consist of a brief study of major wars and historical battles, basic geography and facts and a few political and social ideas mixed in with a paragraph or two of biographical information of somewhat dubiously defined noteworthy individuals of ages past.  A second method far less seldom applied is the biographical approach, where the diligent student studies the life histories and ideas of various historically defining individuals.  For example, one way to obtain a fairly good overview of United States history is to study the biographies and ideas of presidents and various other significant leaders, movers and shakers of our nation’s often contradictory past.  The Encyclopedia Britannica is a very good source for study of basic biographical information, as well as for obtaining a general overview of various political, social and scientific theories, facts and ideas.

       A third application for the study of history may perhaps be fairly described as the Will and Ariel Durant technique; which is, that to truly study history is to study the entire collective endeavor of individuals acting in often non-rhyming concert within both small and large cultures, who contribute to and weave, howbeit for the most part unknowingly, the ongoing fabric of our ever-fragile world civilization heritage.  In this mature view, all educational disciplines fall under the common heading “History”, including all science, philosophy and religion, as well as art, architecture and the day-to-day lives, problems and inventions of merchants, farmers, skilled artisans, common laborers, housewives, children and others.  There may be no better source for this type of comprehensive study of history than The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant, of which myself having completed the first four volumes (of eleven), highly recommended are Our Oriental Heritage, The Life of Greece, Cesar and Christ and The Age of Faith.  There perhaps is no greater single volume of ancient world history every written than Our Oriental Heritage, which should be required reading in order to receive a diploma from each and every American university.

       Finally, the relatively new method of historical and scientific study via video productions, many which are available at most larger city public libraries, is also highly recommended, as the viewing of physical pictures helps to burn important historical information into our all-to-feeble, forgetful human brains.  In order to have a comprehensive view of American history, a combined study of 1491 by Charles C. Mann, “The History of the United States” and related biographies and articles in the Encyclopedia Britannica and A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn are all recommended. Along and in conjunction with these, video productions such as:  Underground Railroad with Alfre Woodard and James Horton; The Century: America's Time with Peter Jennings; The Cold War Turner Home Video; Hiroshima: The Decision to Drop the Bomb, A&E Video; anything and everything by Ken Burns, including The West, The Civil War, Jazz, Baseball and biographies such as Mark Twain, Lewis and Clark and several others.

       A carpenter who I once worked with claimed to have read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. Whether or not this was completely true, I do know that no matter what topic I approached him regarding, he seemed to have a rather compelling comprehensive grasp of the subject matter.  If we want to know what is true, we must “ask” and “look” and “knock” in the reality of our daily lives to sort out what may be worthwhile in the days of our "vanity" under the sun, as well as engage in sincere study such as that noted here.  To not want what is true is to condemn our selves to the inherited collective darkness of blind tradition past and to deny our souls all hope of being free.  And to study but not act on what we have learned toward the positive advantage of our race called Human Being, is to deny the Creator, our sometime feared and more often ignored, Father in heaven.  God, how I wish someone had taught me this in high school, instead of forcing shallow and utterly useless drivel on my unsuspecting brain, masquerading still even today as modern ‘education’! (See Season and Tree of Knowledge for more information.)


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Copyright © August 20th, 2003 by Richard Aberdeen.

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