Old Time Writing

I have been giving thought and reason to old time writing. I read books by old authors, namely A.W. Tozer and C.S. Lewis among others (notice how I said old authors, not outdated authors). When I read these books, I realize that authors of today just don’t write like that anymore. The eloquence at which the words were written, the use of the English language…you just don’t see that today.

The first question that I ask myself when I realize anything is “Why?” So, I have been trying to figure out the reasons on why there is not writing like this anymore. I have narrowed it down to the fact that education today just “ain’t what it used to be.”

I can already hear my critics now, “How do you know what it used to be, you weren’t there!” Yes, your right, I was not, but I do a considerable amount of research on a plethora of topics, and education is one of those topics. In the days of the past, students were taught “the 3 R’s – Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.” That just does not happen today. Students are taught subjects like “stress management,” “sensitivity training,” and “toleration.” There is a Greek word for each one of these topics – Baloney! (Ah, yes, thanking Pastor Phil for that one). I don’t need that stuff! I need logic; I need reasoning; and I need literacy skills!

Anyway, back to the main topic – old time writing. I am going to now illustrate my point with some examples of such writing. This first illustration is a piece written by David Brainerd (missionary to the Indian people in the United States) to his brother in April 1743 (1):

“I should tell you that I long to see you, but my own experience has taught me that there is no happiness and satisfaction to be enjoyed in earthly friends or any other enjoyment that is not God Himself. Therefore, if the God of all grace is pleased graciously to afford each of us His presence and grace, that we may perform the work He calls us to do until we arrive at our journey’s end, then the local distance at which we are held from one another at present is of no great importance to either of us. Alas! The presence of God is what I want and need…Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Let us run, wrestle and fight, that we may win the prize and obtain that complete happiness of being holy, as God is holy…”

Do you see what I mean about the use of language and eloquence? Another selection by David Brainerd, this one written in 1747 (1):

“Dear brother, I am now just on the verge of eternity, expecting very speedily to appear in the unseen world. I feel myself no more an inhabitant of earth, and sometimes earnestly long to depart and be with Christ…”

I have sometimes thought about what I would like people to say about me when I die. I was reading in a newsletter from HeartCry Missionary Society (1), and I found exactly what I want people to say about me. This was written by Thomas Brainerd about John Brainerd (1):

“He was a lover of all good men and seems to have hated nothing but sin; he was a holy man of God, to which his whole life bore witness.”

Wow! I am almost speechless at that profound look into John Brainerd’s life. What have I done to allow people to say that about my life? Suddenly, I am ashamed…

I am going to close this piece with some other quotes by some famous (some would say infamous authors). Read these quotes until you can grasp their meaning; pay special attention to the language and the imagery.

“Quietude, which some men cannot abide because it reveals their inward poverty, is as a palace of cedar to the wise, for along its hallowed courts the King in his beauty deigns to walk.” – Charles Spurgeon (2)

“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” – C.S. Lewis (3)

“The past is the beginning of the beginning and all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn.” – H.G. Wells (4)

Sources:

(1) HeartCry Missionary Society: Magazine Issue 54 – Gospel 101.   http://www.heartcrymissionary.com/content/blogsection/10/160/

(2) Charles Spurgeon Quotes. http://thinkexist.com/quotes/charles_h._spurgeon/

(3) C.S. Lewis Quotes. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/c/c_s_lewis.html

(4) H.G. Wells Quotes. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/h/h_g_wells.html

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2 thoughts on “Old Time Writing

  1. Steve Rosenbaum says:

    There are alot of myths about the old days that are more nostalgia than truth. For example, let’s take the year 1564 and look at Shakespere. He wrote in the language of the day with about 25,000 words in the English language. Today there are more than a million words in the dictionary to describe all sorts of things Shakespere couldn’t even imagine.

    In those days, he was a big fish in a very small pond. Today, the library of congress gets more than 20,000 submissions per day. That’s a lot of competition. Maybe the skills that is missing is not writing but the ability to pick through everything to find what you like.

    Let’s take India and China for example since that’s close to a third of the worlds population. In the last half century, they’ve been aggressive educating a portion of their population. Right now about 20% of both populations are highly educated (bachelors degree or higher). Doing the math that’s around 500 million highly educated people, more than 3 times what we have hear.

    A read your excerpts and found the writing to be flowery and inpercise. I much prefer clear, concise and direct. To me writing is more about communication than trying to create art.

  2. Adam Smith says:

    Thank you for your opinion. You misspelled the word “hear” (here). That would be an example of a clear, concise and direct point.

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