Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Those Were Not the Good Old Days

In the 1964, President Lyndon Johnson defeated Sen. Barry Goldwater , and defeated him in a landslide. Goldwater was deemed some far right nut case, and Johnson – with the huge sympathy from the assassination of President Kennedy behind him – was seen as far more mainstream. He and Congress proceeded to enact all the programs that comprised the “Great Society” and dramatically increased the resources – especially troops – committed to the war in Vietnam. At the same time, the culture – what seemed like familiar American culture – was shredding. Riots, assassinations, massive protests against the war, the explosion of drugs – things seemed to be unraveling.

It was a scary time to be a parent. And it was a scarier time to be the parents of a teenager.

By the early 1970s, prices were starting to rise. People look at me strangely today when I tell them about inflation at 14 percent, a prime rate of 21 or 22 percent and people hoarding sugar and coffee because prices were out of control. It was like that for the rest of the decade of the 1970s, and the cultural unraveling seemed to run parallel with the financial unraveling.

The Great Society and its expansion of federal benefits, Vietnam and its aftermath, Watergate and its contribution to the destruction of trust in institutions and authority – one might say we brought it on ourselves. We aspired to heaven on earth but used broken, human means, and it simply didn’t work.

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis says it so simply and so plainly and yet surrounded by so many other true things that it’s easy to miss: “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

He goes on to say this: “That is the key to history. Terrific energy is expended – civilizations are built up – excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes wrong. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top and it all slides back into misery and ruin. In fact, the machine conks. It seems to start up all right and runs a few yards, and then it breaks down. They are trying to run it on the wrong juice.”

One might say we’re doing the same thing yet again – waging war while undertaking a massive federal spending program. Like the late 1960s, we’re printing lots of paper money, and eventually the bill will come due. We’ve learned this lesson before, and it looks like we’re going to have to learn it again.

We’re trying to run things on the wrong juice.

Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter are leading us in a discussion of Mere Christianity. The current chapter is “The Shocking Alternative.” To see more posts, please visit Jason’s blog, Connecting to Impact.


Bill (cycleguy) said...

Good thoughts and very astute observation Glynn. It is a scary thing to think about what is coming. But Lewis is correct: apart from God we have nothing.

Anonymous said...

It's painful that in this world we are never fully running on the right juice, it would seem.

What a terrific post: good perspective on a Wednesday morning!

Jerry said...

I didn't realize the 70's were that bad...of course I was just an aspiring teen with little sight beyond my self. Some things will drive us to either hold on to Lewis' statement above and realize that God is the only pursuit of happiness OR we they will influence us inward and all of it's manisfestations. Thank you Glynn.

Louise Gallagher said...

"Running on the wrong juice" is a great way to put it.

and we are -- running on the wrong juice.

Fabulous post Glynn.

Helen said...

Thank you for the history lesson, Glynn. Seriously, to me, the 70's were zooming on a red bicycle with the words "Free Spirit" on the frame. I was eleven when they ended. (And that's not just me trying to spread false rumors of my youth. :-) )
It's a shame that we have to keep learning the same lessons over and over.

Anonymous said...


we build up
towers of babel
and leave them
to decay

S. Etole said...

I wish this weren't quite so true!

Mama Zen said...

This is fascinating. I had never thought about it that way.

David Rupert said...

How long before we return to those terrible financial times? And will we beleivers be ready?

Anonymous said...

Great observation on all sides. Thanks for the perspective, Glynn. Amazing how you can make sense and get your point across without having to shout and snort about the end of the world, right? :)

HisFireFly said...

Sadly, your observations seem dead on target.

I was considering writing about that passage today as well.

Wow.. how odd -- the word verfication for this comment is "obaman"

Timoteo said...

I know the seventies were bad...but at least there was DISCO!!!

Karen Kyle Ericson said...

Oy disco!!? hahaha Great post Glynn. I was born in 1960 and saw most of this as a youngster. It's hard to watch what's going on today and wonder if this country will ever learn. We can only pray. And know God is in control.

H. Gillham said...


The wrong juice is right.

They're trying the Kool-aid instead.

Great post.

BTW: My twenty-four year old nephew who is in an in-between time in his life just picked up a copy of Mere Christianity. :)