|Volume III, Issue 1
Lawrence R. Blades
O Theophilus is the Quarterly Journal of The Center For Biblical Literacy
I am Woodstock “stardust.” Yes, I was there with Hendrix, Sebastian, CS&N, Dylan and half a million other flower children of Aquarius. While there might be a certain hubris identifying with this historic event, I confess no desire to revisit, reenact, or resurrect it. The Woodstock Generation was, and to a great extent remains, a lost generation. It was miseducated and ill prepared to take the reins of social responsibility. It was cheated out of its birthright of liberty with a pottage of license. It was deluded by a naive dream that innocence could be perpetuated and preserved in an adult world. The Woodstock Generation’s flight from reality will never be corrected by watching re-runs of Leave It To Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet, for even these helped foster the unreality.
As a student in a liberal arts college in the late 60’s, I was swept away in an overpowering current of unidentifiable forces and novel ideas. Academics were replaced by protest rallies and hallucinatory rap sessions. Revolution was in the air. Revolution was the buzz word that shot passionate flames through our veins and sent caution to the wind. Draft cards were burned. Social propriety was abandoned. Drugs, sex and rock and roll held the only meaning of life. Party became a verb.
Many simply grew out of it. Some emulated Peter Pan, refusing to ever grow up. Still others, like Jerry Rubin, betrayed the hippie aversion to wealth and abandoned yippiedom for yuppiedom.
I happened to get saved. Yes saved, as in delivered, set free, born again a new creation in Christ Jesus. No theology, no doctrine, no sectarian brand; just a simple and sovereign encounter with Jesus Christ that caused me to bow my knee and confess that He alone is Lord. I found Him in His Word and was quickened by His Spirit. (I still lack the theological skill of dissecting truth into objective and subjective realities. I asked Him to redeem all of me, body, soul and spirit.) In an instant my world was turned upside down by “another King, one Jesus.”1 Into my life of darkness and chaos came light and order. Things made sense. Life had an eternal meaning that far outweighed the intoxicating diversions of a season of empty pleasures.
The passage of thirty-something years has provided meaningful hindsight, and in my case, a clarifying Biblical worldview. I entered the college scene like major Molineux’s kinsman carrying a duffel bag of prolonged, rural naivet. A stable home life, parents who taught right from wrong, and regular, obligatory church attendance had instilled in me a standardized American-Christian value system hollow to the core!
I was blind-sided. I didn’t know what hit me. In a single year the freshman 10:30 PM curfew was abandoned, off-limit girls’ dormitories were replaced by coed rooms and shared bathrooms, and students decided to run the universities. A few tokes on a joint to the beat of the Steve Miller Band and the entire fabric of my antiquated, home-spun value system was rent asunder. The times they were a changin’.
My parents’ generation could only shake its head in scorn. Psychologists fabricated an unprecedented generation gap to explain the dilemma. My dad could never understand why we had to “find” ourselves. Those of his generation never had to find themselves. Drugs were around, but they didn’t desire them. Sex had been a natural thing for 6,000 years, but they didn’t need special education to understand some uncontrollable urge that made them “do it anyway.” They saw no need to “clarify” their values and alter their ethics for each new situation.
What happened in the 60’s to cause a whole generation to throw away a blessed heritage and despise all that was called “establishment?” How could a predominant value system collapse so quickly before the crooning philosophers from Liverpool? Why couldn’t established Christianity sustain a vibrant, guiding faith in a country filled with churches and Bibles?
Today I recognize the value system instilled in my youth had the semblance of Christianity, but was disconnected from a living faith. I estimate that the Christianity my parents professed was more nominal than vital. You might say it was second hand, passed down generationally by precept, not faith. The moral precepts were mostly Christian in origin and kind, but lacked any power to claim their rightness. They were disconnected from their Author and His Book. They could easily be challenged and even be overcome. It was a Christianity you could easily be talked out of.
Twentieth Century America has lived off the moral capital of past Christian faith and obedience. Spiritual seeds were sown in blood and sacrifice to establish a new nation “under God.” Recent generations have reaped a bountiful harvest of prosperity and liberty, but have forgotten the cost and the source of these blessings and what is required to perpetuate them. By the 60’s that capital was all but spent. There was nothing left for the children. Instead of good seed, the tares sprouted profusely through the land.
Post W.W.II prosperity and technology made American life easier. Hardship and sacrifice became less necessary. Upwardly mobile parents were able to pass on material goods and opportunities to their children to the neglect of their spiritual heritage. The American vision of Christian liberty was replaced by a Horatio Alger “dream,” and the quaint neighborhoods of the Nelson’s and the “Beave” painted a cushy future.
The youth of the 60’s expected the idealism of Lassie only to discover the reality of Vietnam. They blamed tradition and establishment as repressive tyrannies that prevented the free expression of the idealism of innocence. The real evil of selfishness and lust was thinly veiled in symbolic cries for peace and love. This contradictory worldview required abandoning the distinctions of morality and immorality for the conveniences of amorality. Beaver’s worldview was ridiculed by Archie Bunker’s. Al Bundy would become the spokesman for the next generation.
Many are quick to blame prosperity and materialism for the moral collapse in America. Their remedy is another false idealism called socialism. But prosperity itself is not the problem, nor socialism the solution. Prosperity is a blessing of God not inconsistent with moral living, and He has prescribed in His Word the means to maintain and perpetuate that prosperity.
The risk of prosperity is the predilection to forget God. To prevent this, God commanded His people in the Old Testament to keep sacred memorials throughout the year when His commandments, judgments and testimonies would be solemnly recited in the children’s ears.2 Colonial Americans understood this well by remembering God daily in various social activities and events. Public prayer, preaching and Bible reading were ordinary. Community politics were comfortably conducted within houses of Christian worship. The Sabbath, proclaiming Christ as Lord, was universally recognized and even enforced by law. Most importantly, the open Bible was central to home and hearth and was daily read aloud, memorized and studied by parents and children.
Is there any doubt as to why the Christian faith of Twentieth Century America is so weak and watered down? Christian witness has been reduced to infrequent church visits and a short, meaningless grace before meals. The Bible is more available and accessible today than ever, but is rarely read, or even opened in most Christian homes. Parents expect Big Bird and Barney to equip their children with discerning skills so they can harmlessly enjoy the visual arts of the soaps and N.Y.P.D. Today’s Americans have a faint remembrance of what moral values ought to be, but have no clue as to where they come from.
Woodstock should never be reenacted. It was an aberration in cultural immaturity – a sign of moral crisis in our history. Some (who haven’t exhaled) still think character doesn’t matter. They think our ship can sail the abyss of amorality without the need of chart and compass. That should make us wonder how they intend to turn the helm over to the next generation.
As for me, I am enjoying the grace of God with a renewed mind, a faith that is alive, truth that is established, and hope for tomorrow. The drug induced fantasies of yesterday have been replaced by the sure promises of the Kingdom of God. I am blessed with a happy marriage, a wonderful wife, and three precious children being raised in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.”3 The Word of God is being “hid in their hearts” and they shall “walk at liberty, for [they] seek [His] precepts.”4 God has promised that if I train them up in the way they should go, they will not depart from it.5
Hmmm…Maybe FATHER really does know best!
1. Acts 17:7.
2. Deuteronomy 6.
3. Ephesians 6:4.
4. Psalm 119:11,45.
5. Proverbs 22:6.
All materials on the O Theophilus Journal are Copyright by CBL. They may be copied for personal use only. They may be republished with permission from The Center.