What Has Been Will Be

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Eccliastes 1:9

Reading thought-inducing serious books juxtaposed with detective novels became a life-long habit begun in high school. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve read (actually read again) the Robert Van Gulik series of ancient Chinese murder mysteries, the entire Perry Mason series by Earl Stanley Gardner, and the entire Nero Wolfe detective series by Rex Stout. John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series constitutes the latest addiction. He, by the way, is by far the better writer, although Stout is also excellent.

Published in 1965, A Deadly Shade of Gold delves into some political topics.

Today’s media in the US (the British tabloids are another ball game entirely) is completely built around sensationalism. It may be “liberal” or “conservative” or “objective”, but the objective is all the same. They must capture as much attention as possible to keep viewers/readers with them as long as possible in order to sell more advertising. The only difference with trade press, where I lived for a time, is that the writers are “encouraged” to write only about advertisers for the same reason–that is where the income flows.

Read today’s hype and you’re told that everything is new and everything is going to hell and you’d better get scared. Oh, and keep watching.

Then I read MacDonald’s book. The political backdrop to the story (which is always about McGee leaving the comfort of his houseboat in Lauderdale, FL to help return stolen goods to its rightful owner while getting beaten to a pulp) of Gold from 55 years ago reads just like a current headline. It’s the same injustice, the same battle lines, the same fears. There is nothing new under the sun.

Except, there is. There is a chance for each of us to renew ourselves by deciding to develop daily spiritual practices that bring our mind, heart, and soul into constant communion with God. The Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus proclaimed. It doesn’t have to be the same, the elderly Solomon’s lament notwithstanding.

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