There are two primary schools of historiography. Higher history aims to tell the story of the past through “kings and queens.” Lower histor paints a picture of yesterday through traditions and stories of ordinary people; their lives often recorded in scribal errors in a census from an English village, as well as love letters during wartime, underlinings in family Bibles after the loss of a child, diaries from college, and such. A case can be made for both schools of thought—higher and lower—and it seems to me that one cannot be advanced with satisfactory results without the other. However, I prefer the former over the latter because it simply interests me more. I agree with the late Dr. Clarence Poe, the long-time editor of Progressive Farmer (one of those treasured artifacts from my own childhood), who collected and edited the very fine True Tales of the South at War (University of North Carolina Press, 1961):
“I think stories and local traditions may be as true to the spirit of these stirring times as firsthand document.” (ix)
Buttressing the lower historiographical methodology that formed the foundations of his own book Dr. Poe went on to appeal to sources that have great attraction to me and may have interest to others:
“And truth embodied in a tale shall enter in at lonely doors.” (Tennyson)
“I shall cheerfully bear the reproach of having to send it blew the dignity of conventional history if I can succeed in placing before the English of the nineteenth century a true picture of the life of their ancestors.” (Macaulay’s, History of England)
The reason that I prefer this kind of history is that this is the way I live life. This is, also, the way the Bible established history. Kings and queens and their stories are critical, of course, but it is only through the known and unknown stories of the otherwise anonymous people of hidden places that we come to understand the sweeping epic story of God’s redemption in Christ.
So let us rejoice in lower history and in doing so be encouraged in our own stories of grace.