Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

August 11, 2012


Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

The Beat Generation was the precursor to the Hippie Movement.  The beatnik philosophy found an expanded expression in those who came to wear the label of Hippie.  This was the subculture of the 1960s.  The term hippie is from hipster, meaning “cool” or “in the know” as opposed to being square.  This subculture truly thought it had the corner on understanding life and the world.

Individuals in the small groups of beatniks in various cities began to move to New York City’s Greenwich Village and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury districts.  They  demonstrated the attitude of the beatniks in a more visible and vocal way.  They created communities, listened to psychedelic music, used drugs openly, and embraced sexual freedom.

The hippies were very flagrant in their alternative life style and radical beliefs.  They openly used illegal drugs.  They seemed to pride themselves in rejecting the accepted values and mores of American society.  Drugs, music, and sex seemed to be all that really mattered to them.  Yet, perhaps this was not enough in expression to stab society as they supposedly desired.

To appear as a rebellious force in society, they  chose politics as a cause.  The quietness of the Beat Generation exploded into expressions through demonstrations and music.  They flaunted open sex as if they welcomed condemnation.  The Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement became rallying cries for them.  Was it genuine or just another way to express their rebellion?

It was never difficult to recognize a hippie.  The long hair, the clothing, and their vehicles were testimony to their lifestyle.  Many vehicles (and the VW bus was their choice) were painted with flowers or other colors and markings that were distinguishing advertisement.  The sign of peace that was made with their fingers brought another title for their activity.  The Peace Movement was introduced into American society.

Another term often used to describe hippies was Flower Children.  This term was born out of the selling or giving of flowers along the street.  Though many interpreted it as an act of love, it primarily was to provide some income.  Few of them worked.  Much of the support came from hippies within the group as almost half of the numbers were from well-to-do families.

The Hippie Movement has left a legacy in our present culture. That does not imply that it is all negative.  But there is definitely an influence that is seen in health food, music, sexual mores, and perhaps even in attitude about government, war, and religion.

There is a very interesting element that came from within the hippie counterculture.  It was a Christian element.  I cannot explain it, but I am personally aware of its existence.  There were within this group those who found religion–as they said.  Only the work of God could have brought it about, but many found a relationship with Christ.  They continued to be known as hippies, but were usually identified as Jesus Freaks.  The movement was soon called Jesus People.

They focused on universal love and pacifism.  Most of them gave up drugs and free sex.  They opposed what they called boring churches and met in storefronts or homes.  They sought to live as Jesus did without the trappings of the world.  They were basically conservative in theology.  They interpreted the Scriptures as evangelicals in regards to salvation.

Rather than sit in judgement on something I knew very little about, I walked with them early one Sunday morning through the streets of the city and across the causeway to the beach.  There I witnessed a baptismal service, singing, and proclamation of the Word that was totally acceptable to me.  I admit my presence was from curiosity and perhaps judgment.  But I came away with support of what they were doing.  I did not find that same approval from a deacon who knew I had participated, and who was strongly opposed to this unorthodox worship.

Without  judgment on any within or without the Hippie Movement, I am thankful for those who found a personal relationship with Christ and were not ashamed to be called a Jesus Freak.  I did not sense they were simply seeking to be radical for radical-sake, but bore the term given to them as an expression of sincerity and commitment.  They demonstrated courage to their friends within the Hippie Movement and did not shy away from the label given them.  Are we who are within the church able to gladly bear the title Christian?  Can we show the courage and conviction of those called Jesus Freaks?

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.  But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 10:32,33)



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