Category Archives: Durant, Will

The Story of Civilization

Oskar Groening and The Lessons of History



I have said it many, many times: the biggest error a historian – or anyone appealing to history – can make, is to judge a culture buy their own values and practices.

And yet, every day I hear people who have “studied history” explain to me how the past “got it wrong,” and if only they (the past) had been as smart as the speaker, things would be different – meaning “better” – today. “If I had been there, it would have been done right,” they so often say.

“If I had been there in 1787, we’d have gotten it right!”

Even short term history is treated as if it is an absolute exercise in cause and effect: “The United States didn’t need to drop the atomic bomb. Doing so destabilized the world and led directly to the Cold War.” Read the rest of this entry


The Story of Civilization

For most people who love history, the fifth of November brings to mind Gunpowder and Guy Fawkes. For me, it’s Will Durant.

You possibly don’t know who Will Durant was, but if you have listened to my show for more than a day, you have certainly heard his influence and even most likely, something that I learned from his writing. Will, along with his wife Ariel, are the authors of what many consider to be one of the finest works of history, “The Story of Civilization.”

Once during an annual review of my work as a Pastor, my supervisor was concerned that I didn’t seem to have many friends or much of an “exterior life.” He asked me what I did for fun. “I read,” was my reply. When he asked me what I read, I reached back on my desk and handed him a volume of “The Story of Civilization.” “You read Durant for fun?” he asked with raised eyebrows.

Yes. I do.

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