Acts 17:19-21 (HCSB)
19 They took him [Paul] and brought him to the Areopagus, and said, “May we learn about this new teaching you’re speaking of? 20 For what you say sounds strange to us, and we want to know what these ideas mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners residing there spent their time on nothing else but telling or hearing something new.
Reading about the zeitgeist of Athens, I’m reminded of our beloved country. I read an article recently about the South by Southwest conference in Austin this year (SXSW). It’s become the largest music festival in the world because they truck in novelty…200 films shown for the first time, 2,200 bands play in 100 venues (they cannot be signed by a record label to play – several famous musicians have been “discovered” here), and the technology division bills itself as the largest of its kind in the U.S. with convention centers filled with new gadgets. 30,000 people attended this year, paying $1,600 a piece for 10 day passes!
I probably don’t need to describe the hedonism found in Austin on any given day, much less at a festival like this. Suffice it to say, when Luke describes Athenians as spending all their time telling and hearing something new, he could be talking about us.
In the early 19th century, a Frenchman named Alexis de Tocqueville found himself touring the U.S. and writing about it. His book, Democracy in America, is a classic. He paints a picture of a nation that was moral, strong, God-centered, and full of hard workers. I’m not sure he’d find the same thing if he visited today. Instead, he would probably write about a nation full of selfish, indolent, nihilists…always looking for something new.
What we need isn’t new. It’s quite old…but it’s our only chance as a nation. God put you and me here for this very reason.