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The keepers of our nostalgia want to peddle it to us again and again.

In most lexicons, nostalgia means either a wistful longing for the past or products and artifacts that invoke that feeling. Contemporary film is glutted with nostalgia. Sequels and franchise films parlay the profits banked by their predecessors, often reducing beloved narratives to familiar slogans and cookie-cutter plot formulas. To date, eight of the 10 highest-grossing films of 2018 are either sequels or franchise films. Only A Quiet Place and Ready Player One are new cinematic stories, and the latter, while wildly entertaining, is based on a novel of the same name and relies almost completely on affection for the games and films of a previous era.

It’s especially important for Christians to be aware of the nostalgia craze and to distinguish between nostalgia and memory, as nostalgia can be a particular temptation for us. The NIV translation of the Bible uses some form of the word remember more than 200 times. In his epistles, Paul often urges readers to remember the past events and relationships, both as an encouragement and a caution (Eph. 2:12; 1 Thess. 1:3). But it is equally important to note that the Christian exercise of memory includes the acknowledgment of past pain and suffering. Good memories should be an encouragement in the face of current trials, not a psychological escape from them. In stark contrast, the etymology of nostalgia roughly translates as “homesickness”; the nostalgic person does not simply remember the past or take strength from it, he or she longs to return to it as deeply as an exile longs to return home. That backward-looking focus can be paralyzing and counterproductive, and it is the antithesis of learning to be content “in any and every situation” (Phil. 4:12). …

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