by Bill Nugent
The age of reason gave way to the age of emotion. The optimism of the modern philosophers gave way to the pessimism of the postmodern philosophers. Modernism is the idea that ultimate truth and absolute morality can be discovered by rational thought. (Absolute morals are morals that apply to all people across all cultures at all times.) Modernists asserted that this newly discovered rational system of absolute morality would cure the world. This optimistic modernism crashed on the shoals of the massacres under communism and the mass murders under Hitler. There arose a postmodern pessimism along with its prophets, Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus after World War II.
Sartre and Camus were not only philosophers but were also playwrights. Their plays promoted the new pessimism and the philosophy of nihilism. Nihilism means nothingness, that is no meaning for life. In his book, Nausea, Sartre described man as “a useless passion.” Sartre’s assertion was that the modern concept of reason can’t solve man’s dilemma. Sartre was an ardent atheist. If there is no God then death causes the cessation of consciousness. To the atheist, humanity has no future, only nothingness.
There arose a new movement in the late 1940s called the “beats.” They resented the term “beatnik” with its “nik” suffix because it was a label pasted on them by outsiders. Out of the alienation and anonymity of 20th century urban life came the beat generation. The term “beat” means down and out. They rejected the material success of the 1950s. The beats admitted they were down and out as they hitchhiked and bummed around yet they claimed to be full of emotional dynamism. It was a new optimism that arose not from reason but from emotion. It was a denial of nihilism and an embrace of narcissism (self love). They were also called “Bohemians” and “hipsters.” The men wore goatees, sunglasses and berets; the women wore black leotards and let their hair grow long and flowing. Their politics was liberal but their political involvement negligible.
There was a generational shift when the crowds of young hipsters started hanging out with the old beats. The younger people wore bright clothes and believed in political activism to change the world. The beats called them “hippies.” The beats hung out in the North Beach section of San Francisco. The hippies preferred a neighborhood around the intersection of two streets called Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco near Golden Gate Park. The leaders of the new hippie movement put out a call to all the hippies all across America to come to San Francisco in the summer of 1967. It was to be called the “Summer of Love.”
The Summer of Love unfolded in a chaotic way and brought in about 100,000 people by most estimates. There were speeches, rallies, free food, sexual promiscuity drugs and boatloads of emotional idealism. As the Beatles song of the time said “All you need is love!” They really thought that their appeals to love would unite the world in peace. Not a bad idea. In fact it’s very similar to the idea God had all along. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16).
The beats had often dabbled in eastern religion and the hippies who followed them often did too. But there arose among the hippies many who turned to the love of God through Christ. The year 1967 also saw the rise of The Jesus Movement. It was an ironic sight to see young people who overtly rejected their parents conservative ways suddenly embrace Bible based Christianity. Many were baptized in the Pacific ocean. The Jesus movement spread across the nation and lasted for years as young people by the thousands, dare I say millions, turned to Christ to receive forgiveness of sins.
The majority of the Summer of Love hippies didn’t turn to Christ but rather returned to their homes with a new narcissistic zeal. Their moral values were based on emotion rather than logic. “Whatever feels good, do it” was a popular slogan among them. Their culture of sexual promiscuity, drugs and alienation from the norm soon filtered all through American society so that today hippie values are mainstream. The idealism that led them to believe that they could unite the world in love has long ago subsided. The 1980s saw the rise of the “Me Generation.” The “free love” sexual promiscuity fueled family breakdown. Broken families produce broken people and they’re everywhere.
Now a new generation has arisen. On Saturday, July 7, 2007, nearly 100,000 people gathered at the Titans stadium in Nashville Tennessee. It was not a celebration but rather a fasting and prayer time in which they called out to God to send revival to America. A Christian organization called “The Call” sponsored the event. In the weeks following the event Lou Engle, one of the leaders of The Call, will lead busloads of young people all across the USA to pray for revival. Engle’s cross country prayer initiative is called “The Summer of Real Love.”
There is ultimate truth and absolute moral values. These moral absolutes are not discovered by modern man’s reason or conjured up from the emotions of the postmodern narcissistic self. The moral absolutes were revealed by God in the Bible. They include the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus. The Bible is a book vindicated by more than 3,000 predictive prophecies and their fulfillments. No other writing of any kind throughout all of human history has anything to compare with that. Virtually all sacred writings of other faiths have no prophecies at all. The thousands of predictive prophecies contained in the Bible are like God’s signature on His holy book. His holy book says “God is love” (I John 4:8). Emotions do matter after all.