Old New Journal

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The origins of this book are mysterious. It was on the bottom shelf of a bookcase in our home office, next to all my other journals I’ve kept through the years. In spite of its obscure placement, it has some special features.

For one: it was apparently printed 89 years ago, in 1927.

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The book has a fascinating collection of reference information printed up front: calendars (for both 1927 and 1928), postage rates from the period, a table of weights and measures, various bits of useful information such as “Rules in Case of Fire” and “Common Stains and How to Remove Them,” and a complete listing of all U.S. cities of 10,000 and over (according to the 1920 census).

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After the special sections at the front, the rest of the book is filled with mostly-blank pages. Each page includes a sequence of dates printed across the top and a small box for recording weather data, along with the slogan of the company which produced the book, apparently as some sort of promotional device.

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My copy of this book also a hand-written reading list marked from January 1st through 7th… But the rest of the pages of the book were empty.

What should one do with such a book?

I happened to need a journal. And I couldn’t see any museums calling to add this item to their collection. So: I decided to make use of it (which is probably why it got added to my bookshelf to begin with). It’s now my journal, where I record reflections from my times of studying the Bible, personal memories, and exercises for learning New Testament Greek.

It feels a bit sacrilegious to “corrupt” such an artifact. But then again, why should something be left untouched just because of its age? Why do we hold onto things that are more or less useless, just because they’ve been around forever? How do we appreciate the past, without compromising the present or the future? I feel like something about culture and personality is revealed through our actions such circumstances — but I haven’t yet figured out exactly what it is.

Maybe I’ll have to spend some time reflecting and writing in my journal about it sometime.

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