Friday, June 3, 2011

Sex Drugs and Rock and Roll: Choosing Death

Fr. Dale Matson

"Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Is all my brain and body need.
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Are very good indeed." (Ian Dury 1977)

“But for the cowardly, the faithless, the vile, the murderers, those who commit sexual immorality, those who use drugs and cast spells, the idolaters and all liars—their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. This is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8, Common English Bible).

The late Ian Dury’s lyrics were not a 1970’s anthem signaling a new era. The lyrics were a summative mantra portraying a decline that had already become mainstream in the 1960’s. The era of the 1960’s was a turning point for Western Society and I was very much a part of it.

Birth control pills were drugs that allowed for sex without pregnancy and were introduced in 1960. At that time sexually transmitted diseases were not as rampant or as potentially deadly. It was called “Free Love” but it was really uncommitted serial sexual encounters. The late Billy Preston coined the phrase, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with” and it later became the title of a song by Stephen Stills (1970). We knew what it meant.

If Charles Wesley conveyed faith, service and doctrine through his hymns, the Beatles, “Satan’s Jesters” the Rolling Stones, and later groups like Guns and Roses breathed new life into an “old immorality”. It was antigovernment, disrespect for authority, anarchistic, hedonistic and narcissistic. Heavy Metal Groups followed with names like Megadeath and Black Sabbath and spewed nihilist notions of their own. I worked Grateful Dead concerts in Wisconsin as a mental health counselor and saw firsthand the drug induced hell they brought with them. Drugs are not just the cause of so much sorrow and death. Drugs are a symptom of a life devoid of meaning and purpose seeking respite from a living hell through self-medication. There is also the inestimable legacy of brain damaged and aborted children.

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

My generation chose death and is rightfully looked at with contempt by succeeding generations. As my cohort finds itself in the final developmental stage moving toward the death they so avidly courted and embraced during their lives, they mistakenly think that recycling and driving a Prius will undo the damage they have inflicted on the generations that follow and sooth the guilt they attempt to deny.

The theme song for my generation is “Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll. The fitting recessional hymn could be “Is That All There Is?”. It was also a late 1960’s song by Peggy Lee. We were vain, conceited and turned our back on God. I hope and pray that those who follow us will find meaning and purpose in Jesus The Christ. I ask that God and our progeny would forgive us. As we approach the Season of Pentecost may God the Holy Spirit fall upon us afresh, quicken our mortal bodies and renew our strength. Amen


Fred Schwartz said...

Your superficial analysis of the 60's indicates that you really were not very observant. You failed to mention the Civil Rights movement, the Equal Rights Movement, the Vietnam war in which all sides grew enormously and the more basic facts such asa this was the largest group of people ever AND they paid for the currently retired social security. They are the bankers and the laywers and the educators and VISTA and the Peace Corp need I go on?

Dale Matson said...

Fred Schwartz,
As for the 60's don't forget the assassination of JFK, Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. I can tell you also that to this day Viet Nam era veterans such as myself are still portrayed as losers. The 58,000 dead and nearly half million American casualties alone is not what I would call growing "enormously". Since the 60's cohort opted for zero population growth, who will pay our Social Security?
"They" are also the self serving politicians, crooked Business Leaders and Hedge Fund managers lacking any moral compass whatsoever. My "superficial analysis" was brief since the telling of the whole story is too painful.

Fred Schwartz said...

I do not know about you, but I beleive that no one from my generation assassinated JFK or Dr. martin Luther King Jr though many participated in the VISTA, Peace Corps and in Freedom Riders and Civil Rights marches. The Hedge Fund managers are not from our generation and as for the VietNam conflict, as a decorated combat veteran we seem to have two differnet experiences. It is not our/my generation trying to monkey with Social Security, medicare, MIC, Food Stamps and the like. The TEa Party and Sarah Palin have destroyed everything in their path. As for a moral compass, we should both be careful with who has or has not a moral compass.

Dale Matson said...

Fred Schwartz,
We obviously don't share the same world view except for the Anglican Covenant. Both of us believe it is fatally flawed but for different reasons. You also have your own blog for expanding on the virtues of the "Baby Boomer" generation should you wish to continue. I will resist the urge to provide feedback on your blog but don't be surprised if responders (especially younger folks) are less enthusiastic than you about our generation.

Fr Van McCalister said...

Fr Dale -

Excellent summary of what has happened to American culture over the last several decades. No generation is either "all good" or "all bad" but the tragic shift in American culture and morals is most evident in the 60s. The Church is as much to blame for this as anyone because we allowed the liberal theology of the 1930s to permeate our seminaries where it reached full steam by the 1960s. This meant that many of the clergy who were taking leadership positions - especially in mainline churches - in the 1960s were skeptics and agnostics. The Church therefore was ill-prepared to offer the message of Life over and against the deconstruction message of the 1960s. We are still suffering from that today.

Charlie Sutton said...

@ Fred Schwartz - it is not so much the events of the 60's as it is the profound shift in the foundational assumptions of the culture. The 60's mark the change from a combination of the classical Christian assumptions and the rationalists assumptions of the Enlightenment (which can co-exist to some degree) to the assumptions of radical secularism/materialism. Christianity asserts the existence of a God who has revealed himself and his values. Radical secularism says that human beings are alone in the universe, and it is up to each of us to shape our own values. While many people still have values that reflect some sort of Christian heritage, this set of values will not stand without a conviction that there is a God who can tell us what is most important.

The reign of horrors under secularist communism shows what happens when human beings shape their own values apart from God. Providentially, the faith of Eastern Europe enabled an eventual successful resistance to the emptiness of communism - but the free West has been descending into the abyss of secularism, and as it does, miseries and horrors will follow.

Anonymous said...

A pet theory of mine, which is not original, is that part of the downfall of the main stream churches in the USA, comes from the fact that seminary was effectively a way to totally avoid the draft. The seminaries were willing to take these men with what was often a minimum inquiry into the nature of the call to the ministry. I know of men who went to seminary who were not sure they believed in God.

These men are now bishops or senior pastors and the lack of a true commitment to the Christian Faith is now tearing apart the church. Just a theory and if true only a partial answer, but it is my pet theory.


Dale Matson said...

I think you have an interesting idea there. I agree that some may have been avoiding the draft. Perhaps some of these individuals would have been better off as conscientious objectors. My brother in law served in Poland as alternative service during Viet Nam. He is a member of Church of the Brethren and his father served served in a mental hospital during WWII.