Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Those Were Not the Good Old Days
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.