Tuesday, January 22, 2008

TRADITIONS: The Old Rutted Road -- Part I!

Jesus said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."
Mark 2:27-28
The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet 8.5 inches. Why? Because that’s the gauge used in England; English expatriates built our first railroads.

Why that spacing? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used. Again, why? Because the people who built the tramways were wagon builders, and they used their wagon wheel spacing jigs and fixtures to set the tram wheels.

Okay! One more time! Why that odd spacing? Because, if any other spacing was used the wagon wheels would break on most of the old, cross country roads? Okay, why? Because the road ruts were that spacing.

So who built those old rutted roads? The first in Europe (and England) were built by Romans for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts? Roman chariots made the original ruts (which everyone else used for fear of destroying their wagons and wagon wheels). The wheel spacing of all Roman chariots was exactly alike.

Thus, we have the answer to the original question. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

It seems specs and bureaucracies are eternal. So, when you’re handed a specification and wonder which horse's behind came up with it, you may be more right than you know. Because Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the behinds of two Imperial Roman war-horses.

Beloved, much exists in the church today that’s tied to an ages old tradition without much adjustment for the people who have to live with them.

Jesus taught us, "the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath”; since redeemed man is the Church, and the Church is to keep the Sabbath holy, we must likewise conclude the church was made for man, and not man for the church.

Traditions give flavor and honor to the blood, sweat, and tears of those who’ve gone on before us. But people use the traditions to provide the flavor and to give the honor, not the other way around. If the people of God decide to hold onto a tradition for a couple of centuries, or even a couple of millennia, that’s fine. But if the traditions are in place because of T’TW’ADTH (That’s the way we’ve always done things here), well then, the traditions are running us not the other way around.

[The Good, Clean Funnies List, Box 476, Harvest, AL 35749-0476; USA; “The Impact of the Roman Empire on Space Shuttle Design,” 20 October 1999; “ received from L. Rodney Ford via Doug Taylor.”]

No comments:

, , ,