Some years ago, loaded with old comic books and radio tapes from the 1930s, some five hundred people flowed into Tempe, Arizona, for a three-day national nostalgia convention. The conclave featured comic book collectors 13 past2who swapped “Captain Marvel” for “Superman No. 1” or simply paid up to $200 for a rare copy of the first “Batman” series. They also watched movies from the silent screen era and listened to radio broadcasts from the thirties and forties. One of the DVD sets often offered by PBS to raise money for their broadcasting is the oldies but goodies music from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Nostalgia is big business in our culture. I often immerse myself in yester yore when things were so much simpler, values were much clearer, and worries and responsibilities were easier.

In Ecclesiastes 7:10, Solomon is still talking about making better life choices. Here, however, he assumes that his readers have a specific perspective that must be confronted. Usually we think that Solomon is addressing a younger generation, but in this verse it sounds like he’s speaking to the older generation, challenging us not to fall into nostalgic reflection that may cause us to look at our present situations or even the present generation as something less than the past. Solomon writes, “Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.” George Ball said, “Nostalgia is a seductive liar.” Yes, when I’m honest, nostalgia really is looking back with love and longing at lives we couldn’t wait to leave. Alexander Dumas exclaimed, “Oh, the good times when we were so unhappy.”

Some once said, “You may be old at 40 and young at 80; but you are genuinely old at any age if: You feel old; You feel you have learned all there is to learn; You find yourself saying, ‘I’m too old to do that’; You feel tomorrow holds no promise; You take no interest in the activities of youth! You would rather talk than listen;
You long for the ‘good old days,’ feeling they were the best.” When Bill MacDonald comments on this verse he says, “Another foolish activity is living in the past. When we constantly harp on ‘the good old days’ and wish they would return because they were so much better, we are living in a world of unreality. Better to face conditions as they are and live triumphantly in spite of them. Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”