History in Context: An Introduction
As I have watched in sadness and frustration at the events unfolding over the past couple of weeks,
and have heard the dialogue and questions my children, friends and family are asking... I have finally been pushed/spurred into action. Several years ago, I had a dream to create a blog that attempts to present objective history in a contextual manner; which in turn, can inform us on issues that have and are continuing to plague our civilization in both ancient and modern times. I am a typical procrastinator and launching this project has taken much longer than planned. Given the climate in our country at this time, I have come to realize that now is the perfect time to launch a project where history is not sanitized, but rather it is embraced for the facts. I can no longer be silent as I witness leaders, corporations and even many of our schools boards strip away at our global history; sanitizing it down so that it is less offensive, more comfortable and removed from the truth. You will probably hear me say this many times, but history is messy, sometimes violent, filled with drama and will make you uncomfortable... and therein lies its power to move us, educate us and more importantly to inform us. As an archaeologist and teacher, I have watched younger generations struggle with a version of history that is watered down. This has led to ignorance, misunderstanding, confusion and in some instances hatred. In short, we (and I include myself in this) have failed to learn the lessons of our true contextual history.
So what is History In Context and why was it inspired?
As many parents do, I often delight in hearing about my children’s day and what they are learning in school. Over the past several years, I have become concerned with what is being presented in history classrooms across our country. My children were returning home with only half of a historical narrative, a half that was watered down, and although based in fact missing some rather important contextual truths. As a teacher myself, I have come to realize that teachers today are caught in the trap of having to teach a history that is often times violent, mainly written by the victors, is uncomfortable, and deals with issues that are often complex. At the same time teachers are having to adjust the lessons in order to create an environment which limits the potential for students to be offended or uncomfortable. This trap creates a history that is often removed from its original context and analyzed in such a way as to negate the main lessons it offers us. In our country, we have a tendency to want to rewrite history either to reduce the risk of offending someone or to correct any perceived wrongs... however the time has come for this to end. We do a great disservice to both younger and future generations when we allow our modern lens to interpret history without the benefit of learning from our past triumphs and tribulations. We lose a prime opportunity to teach the lessons of history. The tragedy here is that, as both parent and archaeologist, I am often left to correct this modified view of history, which in turn becomes problematic when my children return to the classroom, confront their teachers and ask why they weren’t taught the whole truth. The truth is far simpler, again I say history is messy. It is made up of facts and regardless of those facts, it is not designed to make you comfortable or uncomfortable, but rather it is designed to help broaden our understanding of the connections between our modern world and ancient cultures. Here is the catch though, history should and must be examined through its original context. Let me say that again, we must examine history through its original context and not with our modern lens. We need to “walk a mile in their shoes.” When we remove the historical narrative from its context, we fail to embrace valuable lessons from the past. History can not be dismissed or disregarded otherwise we are destined to repeat the same mistakes throughout history rather than learning from it. History is not something that is convenient, it is not something that should be expunged, and it is not something that should be sanitized, but rather it should be examined, analyzed and understood through the original context in which it occurred without our modern judgements. Our goal should be to lay out the facts and the context in which history has occurred without prejudice or bias.
So who am I to undertake this task and present history in a more accurate contextual manner? I am an archaeologist (PhD(c)) and teacher who has specialized in the history of the ancient world, specifically the world of the Bible, as well as the cultural symbols and iconography of the early Israelite and Canaanite cultures. I am a theologian who tries to understand not only Christianity, but also all of the world’s religions. I am passionate about American history, including the good, the bad and the ugly. Most importantly I am a daughter, wife and mother.
As an archaeologist I am tasked with the mission to uncover, analyze, preserve and protect history in order to ensure its survival for future generations. I am also tasked with helping to educate the general public on history and its relevance in our modern times. I am about overcoming the difficulty in bridging the gap between the ancient past and our modern times. It is my intention to cover a wide range of topics from history, to include but not limited to the Biblical era. I hope you will enjoy these posts. With this in mind, I would like to present History In Context as a medium for analysis, dialogue and education so that we together can change our path by learning from the distant past.
HIC signing off,
There will always be truth when we view history in context.