The Value of Tradition

I was fortunate to get a Kindle back in February for my birthday, and I have really loved it. One of the unexpected surprises with this new gadget has been the opportunity to read some of the great classics that I’ve never read. The big one I’m working through right now is Moby Dick, which I started right after Chesterton’s Orthodoxy.

I’ve always believed that creativity is aided by reading apparently disconnected works and seeing the things that tie them together.  That’s what I always loved about taking several different classes simultaneously during seminary. Unexpected connections are often the place where we find true inspiration and creativity.

In reading these two books, I came across two quotes that I really appreciate that offer a unique perspective on the value of tradition. The first is one that I have heard before,

Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead.  Orthodoxy – G.K. Chesterton

The next is one I hadn’t heard,

Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Moby Dick – Herman Melville

These two quotes were important reminders to me that we lose an important voice when we forget or ignore the wisdom of those who have gone on before us.

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