Blaming Hippies

I occasionally look at Fr Zuhlsdorf’s blog, and find his articles worth what they are worth. This one hit me – Are the aging-hippies burying Benedict’s legacy?

As I mentioned in an article a few days ago, I have never been a hippie, even though I had some contact with the trailing edge of that subculture in the very early 1970’s as an early teenager. Fr Z is talking about churchmen and so-called “experts” in liturgy, albeit of a “progressive” ideology.

First of all, the hippies eschewed all institutional religion or any symbol of what they perceived as institutional oppression. Progressive churchmen are anything but  freedom-seeking anarchists and “artists”, but rather are conservatives and bureaucrats maintaining a status quo or neo-orthodoxy. They are establishment men, defending something they believe should be permanent in the Church.

Fr Z’s article would deflect the blame from conservatism for the way the so-called liberals wish to “bury Ratzinger” and bring back the anti-traditionalism of the 1970’s. To be a good Catholic, you have to be conservative (and conformist).

In my experience of life, I just see one kind of conservatism in conflict with another kind of conservatism, whilst creativity and freedom are suppressed both by some traditionalists and those who would impose the type of liturgy that has been in vogue over the past forty years and more.

Catholic tradition is not conservatism, but rather spiritual communion with the whole of the Church in space and time. Many of the saints’ lives were marked by eccentricity and unconventionality. Their law was that of grace, love, beauty and freedom.

I defy some of those Catholic liturgist bureaucrats to grow their hair long and eschew the establishment. Some of those men are rather more like the dull grey characters one would find on the Board of Directors of your bank!

Update: I had already written this reaction to Fr Zuhlsdorf’s article when I saw Deborah Gyapong’s The divide among Catholics. She approaches the question more from the point of view of how different groups of conservatives live with a liberal status quo in terms of the kind of democracy and religious freedom on which the American Constitution is built. Here in Europe, conservatives tend to appeal to the old union of the Throne and the Altar, the Catholic Kingdom.

I won’t go into these questions that I find very tiring and energy-consuming. No form of government is perfect, and all forms of authority and politics work against the freedom and dignity of the human person. In terms of art, and even technology and science, man’s genius was always manifested in persons who had the courage to break with the “system” and the “mould”.

The Sabbath is made for man and not man for the Sabbath.

This being said, I see a healthy sign in some companies and their methods of designing new products and organising projects. Instead of crushing conformism, they begin to reward unconventional thought and “brainstorming” in the awareness that human progress comes from individual persons of talent and not from group thinking. This is interesting. Perhaps Churches will take another fifty years to catch up with the leading edge!

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2 Responses to Blaming Hippies

  1. ed pacht says:

    At least in America, the dull grey faces in the boardrooms are often the same flamboyant people who led the hippie movement. The wild anarchism of hippiedom seems in many cases to have segued seamlessly into the conformist anarchism of Ayn Rand’s followers. One thing that characterized hippies (and pre-hippie/post-beat types like me) was the tendency to carry every thought to extremes, losing all balance in the process.

    Even though conclusions and opinions may have changed, in basic thought patterns there’s not a whole lot of difference between the leftist radicals of the 60s and 70s and the radical right of today; and it’s not just in politics that that holds. The extreme traddies, radical evangelicals, and the like actually seem to think in much the same way as ‘new age’ mystics and the strangely evangelistic ‘new atheists’ and it’s much the same thought process as I remember observing and even participating in. Yes, the continuity is certainly there.

    • I agree with you that typical hippie mentality was shallow and narcissistic, showing little altruism (freedom for me and never mind the others), and was unsustainable. Many of those people were immature. This is something I find about left-wing political agendas, that they lack tolerance and kindness for the “other side”.

      On the other hand, I have had wonderful conversations with my sister-in-law (brother’s wife) who was born in the late 1940’s and exudes the spirit of the early baby boomers. It all depends on our capacity for tolerance and respect of other people’s freedom, where our own finds its limit. I find so much balance, and she brought up two wonderful balanced sons (one was tragically killed in a road accident) and the other is now a husband and father in the south of England. What I find wonderful is the absence of the life driven by status, money and power. We can be simply human and be good, with God’s help of course to overcome sin.

      Complete generalisations are unjust. There are ways to live the Cynical (old Greek meaning of the word) life without the trappings. We can live in the country and be as self-sufficient as possible, reducing the need for money. We can aspire to a simple life, but with gentleness, kindness and tolerance. Such a world view is aeons away from modern church bureaucrats, even if they had long hair and took drugs in the 60’s.

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