Monday night is usually library night for our house. Last night we quite unusually took our books back on schedule. My son wanted books on the Arctic. So we found few including a child friendly one written in the ‘Horrible History’ style of Terry Deary i.e. yuk bits left in, christmas cracker style jokes, cartoons etc. This style of history writing has been very successful, ‘Horrible History’ having spawned numerous books and imitators such as the ‘Dead Famous’ series, a series of magazines and a television series. Yet these child friendly books may convey a deeper message about the writing of history in general. Do they in fact reflect a wider trend that history is meaningless and not to be taken too seriously?
Growing up history, was as far as I could see, something very important. It conveyed to us, even at a young age, something about the meaning of the world we lived in, our sense of identity, people to be admired for their achievements and some sense of connection with the past. In our younger generation history is reduced to a series of vignettes enlivened by a series of schoolboy jokes. There is little sense of conveying to the young that history has significance and that since history has significance our lives and our world have significance.
These new child friendly histories merely reflect attitudes such as Francis Fukuyama’s assertion that we have witnessed the end of history. That is that idealism has ceased. Or perhaps it is simply the outworking of the postmodern mindset that there is no metanarrative. History is not a place to look for significance but like our lives it is to be treated flippantly where the only meaning is to be found in hedonism.
It is a sad reflection upon our worldviews that life has been atomised and reduced to meaninglessness outside our personal pleasure. The one metanarrative that remains is the only one that brings hope to our world. It is the message of God’s plan being unveiled in history. It is plan that reaches its pinnacle in Jesus Christ and that brings significance to our world and to our planet. If we seek meaning in history we can look to Jesus Christ for we see in His life God breaking into history. We see in Him the pivotal moment that brings meaning to our world. To discover this is indeed a legacy to give to our children.