What is the relationship between relevance and dated material? And, whatever happened to the avant-garde? Even that concept seems outdated (which would be impossible if society weren’t convinced we are the perpetual climax of history)! Lest we think “dated” is somehow bad or lesser, let’s list some writing that should be dated:
Dated for Relevance
- Journalism. By all means, there can be historical journalism, but you want the final write up as up-to-date as possible.
- Guide books! Oh, to travel and make a living doing so!
- Academic work. It’s often necessary to pay tribute to those before you, but thankfully impossible for future works.
- Baby books
- Memoirs/autobiographies and all forms of greatest hits projects
- Love letters
- Cards of every variety
Dated and up to date are in a relationship—maybe this should have been a Valentine’s Day post. Sometimes it is in the very nature of being dated material that makes it relevant.
For example, tailoring sermons to congregations is why we don’t just reread sermons from the last two thousand years on constant repeat. It’s a recognition of this present time, present needs, and those individual souls present to be known and nurtured in the faith.
Relevance as a Term or Concept
These days, however, dated is almost entirely seen as negative. That little “live” in the corner of the television mocks you on instant replays and recordings of every sort. We are determined that entertainment and information be instantaneous and immediate for our pleasure and the honor of holding a moment of our attention.
Maybe we need to relinquish the word relevance to the entirely new connotations attributed to it. Plenty of things are both timeless and relevant, just as plenty of things are both ancient and contemporary. The juxtaposition between relevant and contemporary is so . . . first world. Leave it to us to find a way to turn the pertinent and applicable into a temporary philosophy or judgment. What a world.
I can’t help it:
Write/right away anyway! 🙂 I’m pretty sure we are the advancing guard, a Lutheran avant-garde!