I hated history in high school and college.  Maybe it was the monotone, no-nonsense droning lectures.  Maybe the classes were during my most-of-the-day sleepy period.  For whatever reason, I grudgingly studied the subjects and made B grades.  Fast-forward to age 40 in seminary, and history began to make sense.  I don’t know what happened.  Having lived through civil rights, the Vietnam war, the sexual revolution, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and more, history was at once, entertaining and frightening. I cannot watch the news without thinking of modern-day characters voicing the lines of the past, “Off with their heads.”  “Let them eat cake.”  “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”  Of course, philosopher George Santayana warned that “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”   Looking at a recent BBC poll finding that 31% of Europeans have no knowledge of the holocaust, makes me shudder.  Human beings are blessed with memory, reason and skill.  Yet, if we promote and celebrate a culture of willful ignorance, our lack of knowledge of the past will bite us hard whether we are in the first, tragic repeat, or the second, farcical repeat.  No matter, the real tragedy is that human suffering can be avoided by an honest reckoning with our history.   I am presently reading two history books that I recommend highly.  The first is by Princeton historian, Kevin Kruse titled “One Nation Under God” which describes the rise of religious fundamentalism and how it fused with a pernicious kind of patriotism in the 20th century.  The second book is by Yale-educated, Wall Street lawyer, Stephen Brill titled “Tailspin” which describes the financial history of the 20th century.  Reading these texts alongside “Greek Religion” (W. Burkett) describing the period from 2500 to 400 BC makes me realize how true the French writer, J.B.A. Karr was when he wrote “the more things change, the more they stay the same”