Novelties and truth

Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles (17: 15, 22 – 18:1) leaves out a very interesting section describing Paul’s experience in Athens.

What struck me was verse 21:

Now all the Athenians as well as the foreigners residing there spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new.

N. T. Wright’s The Kingdom New Testament puts it a bit more bluntly:

All the Athenians, and the foreigners who live there, spend their time simply and solely in telling and hearing the latest novelty.

The desire for something new isn’t something that started with the consumer culture. It may be part of our nature. And it may not be all that bad.

What is new is not necessary bad (or good). But if we are only satisfied with the latest novelty I fear we are missing something.

I think we need to let our penchant for newness open us to the truth.

Jesus, in today’s Gospel (John 16: 13), notes that

when he comes, the Spirit of truth will guide you to all truth.

The craving for novelty might be assuaged by a listening for truth, opening us to the Spirit of Truth.

That listening for truth might be a good guide for us as we long for the new.

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