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

On with the discussion of social changes since the 1960s

Changes since 1960—half full or half empty?



Openness about the role of God and
"religion" in personal life
Open hostility toward God and
religion from the left
Revolutionized telecommunications
Loss of "free time," face-to-face
communication, and relaxation

Continuing our second week of discussing whether the changes between 1960 and 2005 have been for the better or worse; "unpacking" the propositions from the table in our first entry on this topic.... Today's entries are two pairs, each one the "flip side" of the other.

+ Openness about the role of God and "religion" in personal life. It appears that, thus far, the growth of profane culture which began as a dripping in 1953 with the launch of Playboy magazine (which itself was just a half step beyond where Esquire and Coronet, romance and detective pulp fiction and more lurid under-the-counter publications had already started going), and came "of age" as a gusher of filth in the pornography legalized in the 1970s, and all the "respectable arts and entertainments" that dabble in that pool of cess —all this has its complement in greater freedom to speak out on God, hope, and commitment to things unseen. The "feminization of Protestantism" descrivbed as a byproduct of the 18th and 19th century Great Awakenings seemed to be at least partially reversed as men began leading more openly in their churches and families; leading in the New Testament sense, often, as the servants of wives and children. The Apostle Paul seemed to have our generation in mind when he wrote to the church in First-Century Rome: "where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 5:20). Not that we approve of sin in order that the proclamation of grace can flourish (God forbid, Paul says to that point), but we can rejoice that God has a way of turning the darkest times into the times of repentance and coming to our senses. A Catholic writer has hailed the current ferment on the Christian frontlines as the breaking through of America's third great awakening and I think he may be right.

- Open hostility toward God and religion from the left. On the other hand, current socio-political reality seems bent on turning St. Paul's declaration on its head, as if to say, "where testimony of grace is strong, the enemy of our souls rails harder and louder and conspires the more to ensnare us in his deceptions and culture of death." It's no coincidence that in looking for daily leads of "news that signifies (what God is doing in His world)" every day, I am overwhelmed by essays and "think pieces," columns and editorials that mock Christianity and deride all attempt at holy living, assuming that any and everyone who speaks of faith and hope is a hypocritial clanging cymbal. It's shocking how many outright lies about what Christians believe and do are published in mainstream media these days, and when corrective facts are offered in rebuttal, they are declined and rebuffed (which I've experienced repeatedly, having offered not a few such rebuttals myself).

+ Revolutionized telecommunications technology. The personal computer has revolutionized our lives from top to bottom. The Internet, which works atop the PCs but isn't identical with them, has brought the world to our fingertips and, if we choose, has given us the means of taking ourselves to the world, virtually free; for less than our typical daily coffee expenditure. Wireless telephony—to use a more technical if more awkward term for "cell phones"—has freed us in ways we couldn't imagine before having the devices, nor can we imagine not having them again, though it's only been two, three, or four years since most of us gave in to the "fad" and acquired our own. Is it true or a myth that every "labor-saving device" ends up making us busier? We're so happy to see a few minutes "left over" by throwing the clothes into an automatic washer rather than actually having to tend to getting our own clothes clean again the old-fashioned way that we invent not one but a series of ways to use that "extra" time. There is no extra time.

- Loss of "free time," face-to-face communication, and relaxation. The fact that I have a strong hunch that my parents' longevity can be correlated with the time they spent on their front porch doesn't give me great hope. I've even gone as far as to invest in a network cable that can enable me to take my wired laptop to the swing on my porch, but it's been over a year since I've done it. The other side of the technological revolution, especially in computers, data exchanging (the Internet), and portable telephony is the loss of any free time, time to just sit back and review the day's activities and observations. Even with the younger generation whose take on high-tech gadgets are the iPod and the PlayStation, there is no play time to really vacate the "connection" and just play. What toll is this taking? I've suggested shortened longevity; just a hunch, but it seems a reasonable one. And probably just a beginning. You've heard rumors that the radio waves of cell phones cause brain tumors...?

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy


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Today's chuckle

Married Life

After a quarrel, a wife said to her husband, "You know, I was a fool when I married you."

And the husband replied, "Yes, dear, but I was in love and didn't notice it."

—Sent by Dawn O'Day

Thought for today

Knowledge is of two kinds: we know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.

— Samuel Johnson (17091784)

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