Here are a few of the many thoughts that have lingered since reading 1984 months ago:
History matters: Much of the world of 1984 and the oppressive regime that is symbolized by “Big Brother” revolves around the governments’ control of history. One of the key doctrines that is repeated over and over again is “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” The “Ministry of Truth” for which the main character Winston works for, is constantly revising, erasing, and rewriting history. This perverting of history keeps the masses in subjection to Big Brother as it robs them of their identity and keeps them in an ongoing present – never affording them the opportunity to reflect and learn on the success and failures of past generations.
It is no coincidence that God continually told and tells his people to REMEMBER. In virtually ever book of the Bible there is a command to remember. Here is just a small sample:
“This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” Ex 3:15
“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today”. Deut 15:15
“Remember the days of old;
consider the years of many generations;
ask your father, and he will show you,
your elders, and they will tell you.” Deut 32:7
“Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done,
His marvels and the judgments from His mouth,” I Chron 16:12
I shall remember the deeds of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Eph 2:11
“‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.” Rev 3:3
“Do this in remembrance of Me…”
The salvation of sinners is inextricably rooted in the historical event of the incarnation of God, His perfect righteous life, his substitutionally death, and glorious resurrection. Our present experience cannot alter those events, and our only hope for the future is in remembering and trusting the reality of that past historical accomplishment. To be a Christian is to remember.
Truth matters: Orwell shows (in a way congruent to Os Guiness in A Free People’s Suicide) that the loss of freedom comes ultimately not through military conquests but through epistimological revolutions. In 1984,not only does the government rewrite history to serve their current needs but even more sinisterly, they rewrite history to train the population (including themselves) to accept that there is no such thing as absolute truth and therefore entire histories, cultural and personal identities, and facts (such as gravity and math) are subject to “Big Brothers'” interpretation. When truth is placed under the subjection of anyone or anything other than Omniscient God, it ceases to be truth and therefore ceases to offer any hope or freedom.
The Human Heart is Inherently Selfish: Orwell seemed to understand that when pushed far enough our true selfish nature comes out. Left to ourselves without any supernatural heart transformation, no matter how nobel, in love, heroic, civilized, or strong willed we believe ourselves to be, self preservation and interest reigns supreme. It was excruciating to see the protagonist systematically stripped of all dignity and illusions of free will, ultimately not by an outside force, but from the enemy within – his sinful, weak heart.
1984 is a powerful parable.