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P. D. James and the “restless desire for change”

Brad Green recently posted this significant quote from P. D. James, the famous British novelist. James takes aim at our society’s “restless desire for change.” It reminded me of Paul’s warning against “youthful desires” (2 Timothy 2:22), which several scholars suggest may refer to a penchant for the novel.

This quote is worth contemplating:

“We live in an age notable for a kind of fashionable silliness and imbued with a restless desire for change. It sometimes seems that nothing old, nothing well-established, nothing which has evolved through centuries of experience and loving use escapes our urge to diminish, revise or abolish it. Above all every organisation has to be relevant – a very fashionable word – to the needs of modern life, as if human beings in the twenty-first century are somehow fundamentally different in their needs and aspirations from all previous generations. A country which ceases to value and learn from its history, neglects its language and literature, despises its traditions and is unified only by a common frenetic drive for getting and spending and for material wealth, will lose more than its nationhood; it will lose its soul. Let us cherish and use what we still precariously hold. Let us strive to ensure that what has been handed down to us is not lost to generations to come.” [The Book of Common Prayer, ed. Prudence Dailey (Continuum, 2011)]

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