Here is my sermon for last Sunday. And it’s only Thursday.
Archive for September, 2009
I managed to do a tribute to one of the most famous people in the 60’s, and to the whole generation, without once using the word “Baby Boomer.” A stupid designation, if ever there was one.
Oh, wait, I’m from “Gen-X”. Ok. I’l admit. That’s dumber. But at least it’s better than “Gen Y”. Seriously, when we get to the “Gen AA” group, I will officially be “grumpy old man”. Because that’s the way it was. And we liked it.
Mary Travers, of Peter, Paul and Mary died this week at age 72. Folk music was the voice of the 60’s generation, and she was one of the best folk singers. As I have said to my wife, “Among whiny protest music singers, she was one of the winiest.” (Of course, no one out-whines Bob Dylan).
Peter, Paul, and Mary were true believers. Unlike other singers that quickly gave up on the dream of a “great society”, they continued to fight against racism well into the 1980’s – by which time other folk singers of the era had gone on to write songs that may as well have been titled, “I sold out for large bags of cash.”
They truly believed they would leave the world a better place than it was when they were born. Of course, they were born in the Great Depression, and would have had memories of the second World War. Their cause was the racism struggle of the fifties and sixties. Yet, even in the 1980’s, Peter, Paul and Mary marched against Apartheid.
The generation that succeeds them, (mine) has no real thought of leaving the world a better place. Why not? Perhaps it is because we were disillusioned by the ease with which the 60’s generation gave up the fight, opting instead to pursue profits uber alles. After all, if greed was morally acceptable in the 1980’s, who were the middle aged people pursuing it? Why, the same folks that slept in the mud and poo at Woodstock.
My generation was, at the same time more cynical, and less greedy. We were the first generation in which many of us earned LESS than their parents. Personal fulfillment was valued over financial success. (Our own personal brand of self-absorption.)
The world they left us is at the same time somewhat better and much worse than the one they inherited. Better because we have finally accorded equal status under the law to people of different races. Worse because without a clear conception of America as a “city on a hill” (as Reagan used to call it) we are no longer able to give clear direction to the world. While Communism has been defeated, that was the final achievement of (one may call it a going away present from) the Greatest Generation. It was the military-industrial complex which the sixties generation so reviled that managed to topple Russia.
The contribution of the 60’s generation to the effort was to show what life could be like : Rock and Roll, Blue Jeans, and Cola. Certainly less threatening than Communism, but far more vapid.
Their impact of the 60’s generation will be felt long after the gen-X influence is gone. Yet, I am not certain that is a good thing. Indeed, the songs of the 80’s are so banal as to be instantly forgettable. (I still love them, but they are truly meaningless.) The songs of the sixties were unforgettable. Of course many of the best had their roots in the 30’s. (“This Land is You Land” is by Woody Guthrie.)
Yet, it was the sixties that gave rise to the throw-away culture we see today. Recent reviews of the Beatles have been far from kind. Was their music anything other than self-obsessed ravings? Not really. Indeed, members of the 60’s generation have admitted that theirs is the most self-absorbed generation in the history of the world. (Even in their bad qualities, they will not be outdone by other generations.)
So how would I assess the 60’s generation? How about this :
One of the voices of the sixties generation died this week. A generation, I am proud to say, of which I was not a part.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to listen to “Puff the Magic Dragon” and wonder what happened to my own lost youth…
Amazing isn’t it, how history repeats itself? LCMS pastors who were in diapers during the walkout (as opposed to LCMS pastors who walked out and are now in diapers – it was almost 40 years ago…) and who long ago wearied of the seminex/inerrancy discussions, find themselves caught up once again in the battle for the bible.
The ELCA’s recent actions have spurred many a pastor to comment on the initial wedge that drove apart the ELCA and the LCMS. FatherHollywood has an excellent post over at 4+20 about inerrancy. His point : either the bible is inerrant, and therefore useful, or errant, and therefore useless.
As Korby has pointed out, the real battle isn’t over inspiration, but over the nature of authority. Women’s ordination (or at least women’s role in the church) would be much easier to discuss if the question of authority was not so obviously unanswered.
But FH makes a great point that, whatever you call it, either the bible has errors, or it doesn’t. You must choose.
A couple of years ago, I went out to lunch with the local ELCA pastor (a very nice retired Episcopal Priest). He was hoping for closer realtions between his church and ours. At one point, he said, “The way I see it, either scripture is written by God and is perfect, or it was written by men and contains errors.” Now, being the smart alec that I am, I was tempted to say, “Which one of those are you? Ha, Ha, Ha.” Because, obviously, no one would be a pastor (or for that matter a Christian) if he thought the bible was just a collection of stories written by men.
I am glad that, for once, I held my tongue. Within a couple of minutes, a cold feeling moved up my spine as I realized that he felt it was obvious that the bible could not have been “written by God”, but that men wrote it – men who made mistakes. While I don’t recall what happened after that, I do recall that he never again tried to do joint events between the churches.
So on this, I fully concur with FH : Where do you stand? You don’t need to suddenly embrace the term “inerrant” to be an orthodox, catholic Christian. But you must disavow that scripture can be errant to be one.
For those of you that remember Ferris Beuller, the scene with Ben Stein has him discussing the what? Anyone… Anyone… The Smoot-Hawley Tarrif. And was it helpful in ending the depression? Anyone… Anyone… It did not work, and the US fell further into depression.
Well, now that the “stimulus” has managed to raise unemployment to the highest figure in a generation, now that congress is trying to emulate the fine lack of care our Canadian friends to the north enjoy, (and some of then are speaking favorably about Cuban medicine!) we have the excellent news that the President is trying to Smoot-Hawley our way out of things.
Has anyone in the Executive or Legislative branches ever studied history, or for that matter, ever paid attention to some very basic laws of economics? Anyone… Anyone…