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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

       Monday, October 4 2004 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

The youth revolution

Continuing last week's discussion.... Though my 1968 book, The Youth Revolution, promoting dialog between Christian teenagers and young adults and the dropout generation self-described as hippies didn't achieve commercial success, it was controversial in the circles I moved in then and was considered cutting edge at least on our piece of the socio-political spectrum. When LSD and marijuana became widely available and abused, most of the media were speculating about the meaning, effects, and future this development would produce as the younger generation matured.

The media I was working for were no less involved than establishment press and broadcast media in studying these trends, and in at least one major point I challenged the thinking of a major figure in religion at the time on the trend, and my prediction, not his, came true. Harvey Cox (The Secular City) predicted that the spiritual awakening many hippies were claiming to have been having through use of psychedelic trips would lead to a genuine religious turning, which would bring new life to the so-called mainline churches that Cox fronted for. I countered that he was right about the spiritual fallout from the drug use (and more importantly, the quest that inspired the experimentation in the first place), but that it would be the mainstream—not mainline—churches that would grow because of it.

Mainline Protestantism has long been used to describe the big old ivy-covered, bell-towered liberal churches that grace the main streets of most American big and small towns and cities: Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Congregational, American Baptist, Disciples, Lutheran. The mainstream, on the other hand (my own designation) takes in the churches that most church-going American Protestants actually attend: Southern Baptist, Missouri Synod Lutherans, Independent Baptist, Bible churches, Assemblies of God, Churches of God, Nazarene, Alliance, Mennonite Brethren, small conservative denominational spinoffs from all of those Mainline churches, and just one-of-a-kind independent churches by the thousands. In other words, evangelical and fundamentalist churches, which have been booming since 1968 while every one of the mainline denominations has been recording declining memberships every year.

To take this back to my current reading, Robert S. Ellwood's The Sixties Spiritual Awakening barely mentions the evangelical religious movement, I suspect because his bias just won't allow him to give it its due. But if he had been either more astute or more academically honest, he could have made the same prediction (or pretended to, since his book about the 'sixties was actually published decades after that time). But his biases seem to have blinded him to the meaning and significance of evangelicalism and how the youth revolution grounded in psychedelic experiences flooded into Campus Crusade for Christ and InterVarsity chapters on campuses all over North America and beyond, and from there infiltrated and became leaders in everything from the 700 Club to Billy Graham's organization to the evangelical denominations, colleges, and mission agencies.

If Ellwood's "post-modernism" is defined as whatever rejects the goals and methods of modernism (which in this context can be called the "liberal establishment" as it had evolved up to the Johnson and Nixon years), it was not only the Yippies, Black Panthers and Muslims, stoners, and dropouts from society who countered modernism, but the evangelical movement as a whole. It had been vocally against modernism decades before it was fashionable even to call it modernism, much less be against it. And it continued to maintain that opposition right through the '70's, the major sociological movement of which was the Jesus Movement Revival, another permutation for what I called the Youth Revolution and the fulfillment of Cox's, and my, predictions.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 


(Or sick joke?) A man woke up in a hospital after a serious accident. He shouted, "Doctor, doctor, I can't feel my legs!" The doctor replied, "I know you can'tI've cut off your arms!"

Sent by Mary Ann Losiewicz  

Thought for today

Most people want to serve God, but only in an advisory position.

Sent by Trudy Myers  

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