Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from the Nanty Glo in My Mind'

Thinking theoretically about social upheaval and progress

Changes since 1960—half full or half empty?



After great disruption, improved racial harmonyProliferation of and free access to pornography
More openness to discussing "real"
social issues
Moms "have" to work outside the home now, because of economic factors

Many thanks to Rich Dilling for contributing, on the list, a whole slate of additional factors changing the society of the United States today that didn't exist or existed in much different form before the 1960s. I hope we'll be able to take up his items later on. And in the interest of moving the dialog along, I'm going to try to double up the number of items being treated in this Jonal compared with Wednesday's. I'm introducing each of today's topics with a + for the positives and a - for the negatives.

+ After great disruption, improved racial harmony. To this, Bill George replied: "This is partially true, but still too much 'affirmative action.' (Don’t give a man a fish, teach him to fish.)" As I see it, his response would go on the negative column, but it doesn't cancel out the truth of the point I put in the positive column. The greater racial harmony means fewer riots in our cities and year by year now, less violent crime. This has created positives for all American races and ethnic groups, I believe.

- The proliferation of and free access to pornography is not a First Amendment free speech, free expression issue, in my opinion and that of many other observers. Nor was it to any of our Supreme Court members or political leaders prior to 1970. It's obvious that if pornography and public obscenity were illegal under the First Amendment for the first 150 years of the amendment's existence, with virtually no advocacy for it in the public or policical sectors, it was not something the founders of our Constitution had in mind as being covered by freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and expression.

But even setting the question of pornography's legitimacy aside, as a social issue I find it hard to imagine any responsible, moral adult not seeing it as a blight and a continued threat to our children and, to the extent that all of us who would enter the kingdom of God must do so as children, a threat to us all. It's prior to but also basic to the feminist and gay liberation movements as the major influence sexualizing our society.

By the mid-1980's, anyone could walk up the sidewalk in front of any San Jose post office and buy hardcore pornography tabloid papers from vending machines for a dollar or less. Those machines seem to have been replaced by the internet, where even more "professionally presented" pornography is readily available, free, and even, as Sallie Covolo has reported on the list, in our public libraries. Though I don't agree with all that Pat Buchanan, the former Nixon speech writer and conservative consultant on MSNBC-TV, says, he recently wrote that the whole "culture war" would never have begun if the Supreme Court had not legalized pornography. I think there's a lot of truth and insight in that observation.

+ More openness to discussing "real" social issues. This, especially in light of Bill's comment, "Depends on your definition of 'real social issues,'" is one I could do a whole Jonal about. For now, in the interest of not losing your interest by using too many words, just a quick explanation. I think the movies and television dramas have moved beyond the 1950's level of "we all think alike and we shouldn't discuss religion or philosophy or anything too controversial," to taking on serious analytical and often-probing discussion of life and death matters in the past several decades. Though religion is freely attacked by the secularists in the arts and the media, there is more openness to actually let it be defended. There was nothing close to The Passion of the Christ prior to the 1960's, for one example. There are of course complementary negatives on the other side of this, but for now I'll leave the positive stand by itself.

- Moms have to work outside the home because of economic factors. This is a negative to those of us who remember having a mother in the kitchen getting supper when we got home from school and feeling that so long as that prevailed all would be well with the world. But most women under age 50 can't imagine that lifestyle. Though Judy wrote on the list with some passion about government policies that made it necessary for women to look for work, I think Cosmopolitan Magazine and feminism in general had more to do with it than economic factors, government international trade policies, or the decline of heavy industry as the pride of American labor and business. This was one of the first developments signalling the great upheaval of the past half century, well under way by the mid-1960s, and it has truly been revolutionizing in its ramifications.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy


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Today's chuckle

Parish magazine misprints In reverse order of popularity, the Parish Pump Top 10 Church Magazine Misprints were as follows:

3. Daisymay sent us a misprint of diabolical proportions. The Graham Kendrick-penned classic hymn usually reads:

“For this purpose, Christ was revealed,
“To destroy all the works of the evil one...”

When put through a demonically-oppressed spellchecker, the Easter Sunday service sheet read.

“For this purpose, Christ was revealed,
“To destroy all the woks of the evil one....”

Clearly a case of “Repent - or be stir fried.”

Thought for today

Listen or thy tongue will keep thee deaf.

—American Indian proverb

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