Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Nothing Important

My An Arkie's Faith column from the August 29, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.

On July 4th, 1776, King George III wrote the following in his diary: "Nothing important happened today." This ironic and little known historical “fact” is courtesy of a two-part episode of the TV show, The X-Files, titled “Nothing Important Happened Today.” 

The title of the episode came from a dialogue between Alvin Kersh, Deputy Director of the FBI, and Special Agent John Doggett. Kersh: “You ever hear of King George the III?” Doggett: “You answer my question!” Kersh: “He was King of England when America declared independence in 1776. King George the III kept a diary. On July 4th, 1776, he made an entry in it: ‘Nothing important happened today.’” Doggett: “What does that got to do with me?” Kersh: “A revolution started, things that changed the world forever, and even kings can miss them if they are not paying attention.”

I first came across the King George III diary story while I was reading the book, “Awakening,” by Matt Brown. He told the story as fact and used it to make some very relevant points. I hadn’t heard the story before but was struck by its irony. I started researching the story.

Sometimes the facts get in the way of a good story. For years a legend has persisted that on July 4, 1776, the day the American colonies declared their independence from England, King George III’s diary entry read: “Nothing important happened today.” As I conducted my research, I found that the diary entry had been quoted as fact by Goodreads, QuoteFancy, YourDictionary, DailyKos, AARP, NPR, and many other preachers, motivational speakers, bloggers, and writers.

Thirty years ago, the NPR radio show Morning Edition launched what has become an Independence Day tradition: familiar NPR voices reading the Declaration of Independence. On July 4, 2007, the Morning Edition host followed the reading by saying; “Those of you with a keen ear may have noticed that this year our reading of the Declaration of Independence has a different ending. In the past, we've said that ‘on July 4th, 1776, George III, king of England, wrote in his diary, “Nothing of importance happened today.”’ It turns out we were taken in by an old historic myth.”

He went on to explain that Arnold Hunt, curator of historical manuscripts at the British Library, stated that "King George III never kept a diary. The quote is a variation of another well-known story from the French revolution.” On July 14, 1789 — the date of the storming of the Bastille — Louis XVI of France wrote in his diary, "rien,” which translates as nothing. King Louis was referring to a hunting trip where he came back empty-handed. The program concluded with the statement; “Over the years, the story found its way into the folklore of George III and into our radio piece ... until now. We have declared our independence from this historic misquote.”

Even though the story is a myth, I understand why so many speakers and authors have quoted the story. The idea that the king would say the nothing important happened on a day that would prove to be one of the most important, if not the most important of his reign is powerful.

How many days do you come to the end of the day and think, nothing important happened today. Many of us feel that we are unimportant. American author, Henry David Thoreau, tapped into these feelings when he wrote, “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

While it is true that most days the world does not see the things that you and I do as important, there is someone who sees your importance. The Bible has many passages that tell us what God has to say about our importance in His eyes. Genesis 1:27 (NKJV) says that “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." You were made in the image of God. You are important.

Psalm 139:13-14 (NOG) says “You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made.” God made you in an amazing and miraculous way. You are important.

You may think that you are unimportant and that nothing important happens in your life, “but here is how God has shown his love for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NIRV) Jesus died for you because you are important to Him. If we focus on how much God loves us and the price He paid to redeem us, we’ll come to see ourselves as God sees us, and that will help us understand just how important we are to Him.

Gentle Reader, the most important being in the universe created you, loves you, and died for you. God knows what happened to you today, and he feels that it is important. King David wrote in Psalms 139 (NIV) “You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.” (verses 1,2) Then he adds, “where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (verses 7-10)

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