I just saw a pretty good show about the 60's. It was on PBS, and it covered a lot of international student events that one doesn't often see, such as the massacre of students in Mexico City in Oct. of 68, and the May '68 in Paris. The old image are still evocative for me. I wonder if these young people today (I sound like a real old foggy) will know or understand what it means to me to see the wild umkept hair of Bob Dylan and hear that sand paper whine screeching out "the Time they are a'Chang'n?" Or to see the jet black hair of Joan Baez and hear the most hauntingly beautiful voice of that decade. Those two images alone encapsulate the whole sixties thing for me. I literally cried at the images of MLK's funeral, Bobbie Kennedy dying on the floor of the kitchen, thousands of people spontaneously lining the tracks on the journey taking his body back to Washington. Scenes of the Police riot in Chicago the summer of '68. It's hard to relate what scenes of that time do to me. I was a child but I sat glued to the TV the whole time and watched the police beat the crap of people just wanting to stop a war (while they alternated with the story of the Russians invading Checoslovokia, it was not wasted on me that hese two events were two versions of the same thing, the iron curten version and our version). They beat reporters, they beat passers by, and all the while the naive crowd of idealistic politicos chanting "the whole world is watching, the whole world is watching." Of, how could I not mention images of Woodstock? While young people revaled in wild abandon, stoned out of their minds, great music, trying to make their dreams concrete in reality and settling for the greatest party the east coast ever saw.
I guess anyone under 35 would be mystified by my attachment to all of this. But in my youth these images said to me "you are part of something, something is happening, your generation is gong to end things that have been wrong for thousands of Years.' I never got to take part in it. I longed to grow up and become a protester and be part. I did join other protest movements, I was a political activist for most of a decade. But I never got to do it in the 60s. I only went to one actual anti-veitnam protest. But somehow, I was part of it. It was my generation, my time, my older siblings so to speak and I was part of it in my heart and I supported them everyday fervently. It was exciting to know that I was part of a history making epoch that change humanity, hopefully for the better, forever.
I think we did change it for the better, also for the worst. I think Dylan was ahead of us all really, because he knew better than to attach himself to an ideology or a party line. So many of us were caught up on that and sold out our dreams, ironically, in the attempt to secure them and to live out their meaning. We sold them out by taking ourselves too seriously. Over the decades one learns to forget, to keep quite, the younger people dot' want to hear it, they can't relate to it. They dont' know what it is. They don't know what my music meant to me. They could never understand why their music sickens me. They could never understand what mine does for me. They don't care, and I don't care. But then I have to hand it to them, its their time. Every new generation must fight its own daemons and define itself against what came before and where it wants to wind up. So I let them have their time. I try not to be the old curmudgeon who railed against my long hair, and just let them have their thing, whatever I think of it.
But it's not so easy because it opens up a long and deep wound that's been there since my conversion to Christ. The ultimate dilemma: I see the show, I know that's who I am. I'm the child of those days. I am the veteran of those Chicago streets, even though I wasn't there physically, I was there in spirit. I am the remnant of that movement. I am the result, the product, the artifact of that time. And that spirit of those days tells me I am my own seeker. I am still looking for myself, and I wont find it in the group. young people can't understand it at all; the kids of today have come full circle, they are creatures of the group; but not me. I will not find myself among the group. I am liberal, will always be liberal. My most sacred basic core values include setting captives free, stopping war, protesting injustice, supporting equality between all people. That's who I am and I can't sell that out.
But I am also a child of God. I found Jesus, I know he's real. I know the power is real. i can't ever deny that, or deny what he did in my life. Whatever psychological theory or psychologizing fad comes along to explain my conversation exoeruebce, however a product of my dopamine one thinks it to be, I know it was real and that it was more than just chemicals in my head, and I can't ever Denny that. But that belief, that relationship, that finding of God is not done in a vacuum. It's a social thing and it comes with a history. I don't always approve of that history. Nevertheless, the history of the social side of the faith I embrace. I can't ignore it set myself apart form it. Therefore, I belong to the church and I have to belong to the church, but that is very probemlatic.
I don't always like the church. I sometimes spend a great deal of my time laughing at large segments of the church. I am sometimes embarrassed by large segments of the chruch.Not so much because so many Christians supported right wing causes, since there are also a lot of left wing Christians, but because as a true faith I should be seeking reconciliation with these guys. I should figure that our mutual faith is more important and should bring us together more than my half and baked and dimly conceived value system sets us apart. But sometimes I can't do that. Sometimes that value system is awfully clear to me. The conservatives were so frightened by the sixties. Those who were set in fear by that decade see no distinctions between any of the elements that mark that time. Beetle hair cuts just lead inexorably to orgies in the streets. The Turtles song "so Happy Together" leads with utter finality to the nations current drug problem, such that any aspects of the sixties scares the pants off of them and must be attributed to Satan. These are the guys who play records backwards to hear those evil hidden satanic messages like "we go GA lm NOC." How diabolic can you get!
These guys are all over the church. These guys think they own Christianity, and anyone who doesn't toe their party line is just hood wincked by Satan. Most of the time I try to treat them with benign neglect, but how can I really ignore them when, if they had their way, they would crush out of existence ever vestige, not only of the time I hold so dear (my youth) but also the values, the very core meaning that that time holds for me? How can I Ignore them when they hate and fear everything I'm about? Somehow I have faith that Christ really does unite us, but it's hard sometimes to get through an election while I watch otherwise intelligent rational fellow Christians turn beautiful organizations into right-wing political groups; I really do know that they don't want to hear any counter views. I see them build fenses around their doctrines so that their pet interpritations of doctrine become sacred and one dare not disagree.
Eventually it begins to ware on my actual faith. I start to consider alternatives. Then, after so much argument and dispute about religious matters, I just think "what's it all for?" I have been tempted to chuck the Nicene creed. I defiantly think "If I had to follow the OT, say Jesus hadn't come before this century, I would rather be a pagan." But what I do? I try to retreat to rationality and faith. I say, "what is the real source of my discomfort with OT, with Nicene creed?" I rethink the doubt and consider the options within a framework of keeping the faith. I realize most of the time its an emotional reaction, not a doctrinal crisis, but a theological crisis nonetheless. But the stark contrast is always there; I am a child of the sixties and so much of the church will always be the anti-Semites. On the other hand I know there is something good about that. Something about being able to see through the mistakes, the over stamtetns, the sentimentalities of youth.
Once I met a cult leader who was trying to impress me enough to get me into his cult. He told me "I am the ideals of your youth." I told him, "then you really are a fool." He took his groupies and left the place immediately. Whale I can't renounce the values, I understand that the way they played out in terms of emotion and sentiment was largely a problem with being young. For example, I'm glad the left take over rally. I want more restraint on capitalism, but I really don't want a worker's state. I think the system we have now could be so fine if people cared about clearing up the abuses of power. The kind of radical weather underground stuff I admired in Junior high was just insanity. While no singer has ever come along to truly replace Joan Baize and no song writer could replace Dylan, the subsequent generations have had their guys, some of them have been great; one of them is even a Dylan.
So finally I guess I have to just realize that this is just one of those irresolvable tensions that I'm going to have to live with. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time; right to be marked forever without he curse of the 60s. But while we have changed the world for the better, in many ways, I can understand why the more convective elements in the church are so afford of it. After all, that same movement that spawned liberation movements of all stripes changed the values of the country such that Americans and first world people will never look at sin the same way again. The church is forced re define sin, and to ponder problems of reconciliation with sinners in new ways. No generation before ours understood itself as made up of sensual individuals. Sentuanlity was a curse and something to keep quite. I don't think people will ever see it that way again. That is both good and bad. Good because God made us to be sensual people, and no where in his word does he say that's bad. But it is bad by soncqeunce because people not only want to throw off the surplus guilt of feeling sinful for having sexual urges, but also throw off the concept of sin and just do as they please.
The Sixties was like the garden of Eden all over again. If you eat this fruit, you will know good from evil, and knowing means you will experience both good and evil, you learn fits hand what's its all about; starting with estagement form God, and culminating in estrangement from each other, and from nature and the world around you, and even from the motive force of your being (labor becomes a curse). The first couple ate it, and so did we (although I guess we smoked it). Both times, all hell broke loose. I can understand why such a large segment of the church wants to go back to the good old days when kids were named things like Beaver, Wally, and Lumpy, and no problem of youth was so great that a good apology to Miss Launders wouldn't fix everything. I guess I'll just take this dilemma to the grave with me. It's my Mark of Cain form our own little fall in the sixties.