CRISIS 44

Crisis is an on-line magazine edited and owned by Tony Jasper. Material is welcome. On a broad basis Crisis seeks to present various facets of the Arts, and to do so from a Christian faith perspective. However it does publish general material that examines the general human condition, in terms of the way we live and understand ourselves.

REVISTING THE 1960S – AGAIN!

Tony Jasper reminds (chroniclers) of the great religious upsurge  amongst the rock generation affecting millions in the late 1960s – something very much missing in the plethora of current chatter, and even exhibitions of that turbulent decade whose influence we still feel.

1960s - the  decade that refuses to lie low. London’s V&A, not content with their  recent successful and superlative exhibition  on David Bowie, celebrates the enduring legacy of the 1960s in  You Say You Want A Revolution: Records and Rebels 1966-1970. Newsnight on BBC2 has taken us on a fascinating tour of the V&A presentation,  and so  to the magazine and newspaper world has taken note.  I paper on September 9 in the lingo of the decade asks us to ‘turn on, tune in and drop out’ as it outlines the V &A exhibition that invites one and all to take a peep on a generation that embraced the hippy values of peace and love.  Culture mag of The Sunday Times takes a fascinating guide through the V &A exhibition.

Yet is this all nothing more than a delightful  bout of nostalgia?  Not so for Adam Sherwin, the I feature writer, who says the optimism and belief in societal change which fuelled the flower power era might be even more relevant today. He quotes the director of the V &A’s Department of Theatre and Performance claiming: “The US presidential candidates are two baby-boomers slugging it over the legacy of this era.” 

The Financial Times this August asks through their writer Peter Aspden: ”Were the hippies right?”. He makes the bold claim that ‘ there is no conversation about civil rights, or environmentalism, or globalisation, or multi-culturalism that does refer back to the 1960s.’ 

Elle Decoration (September) reminds us of the exuberant, ultra-pop textiles of the somewhat overlooked Marjatta Metsovaara, with late 1960s psychedelic imagery one of the contributions to the way her mind marvellously worked. *** 
The Guardian in their G2 daily supplement has had two visits, one as far back as November 2015, but this year on August 22 they devoted a front cover and ran the words’ How San Francisco’s hippy dream shaped the modern world.’ Even the more literary women’s magazines have an interest. Justine Picardie writes in Harper’s Bazaar (October) and sees the decade as a “revolutionary era that changed the world forever.” 

The Sunday Times took a tourist trip on September 4.  Their writer expected 1960s counterculture to have faded. Instead, “It seems omnipresent,” and so it seems natural  that  in the Mission district of San Francisco there are zero-emission buses and recycling bins everywhere. There is a school of meditation and healing, a holistic nutrition centre. 

However in much that has been written there are two areas that remain largely ignored.

Here is an assumption that everything was wrapped around a particular group who took time out from society and general ways of living.  Not so romantic is the simple fact that many caught up in the various facts of the Sixties were not hippies. Mostly they lived ‘the dream’ in their bedroom, with walls adorned with psychedelic art style posters, headphones stuck to the ears, the music exciting for on cue there was the new and exciting  ‘stereo” format, and for some pot. For them and others there was something amazing hearing in stereo format Sci-Fi from The Pretty Things or the Beatles and their Sgt Pepper or the track Unknown Soldier from The Doors. Others simply became ‘flower people’ at the weekend before suiting up or looking responsible on a Monday. It was a strange trip.

Disturbing though in the various articles and exhibition is a seeming reticence  to even suggest that religion  was having a good time, ignoring the blatant  facts that  in the 1960s, both sides of the Atlantic, and more so the American, there was a veritable   theatre of wild and whacky religious beliefs, some of which were drug fuelled – it is just content to examine the world of the psychedelic music, fashion, design and political activism, and of course  in various ways how they purported to express the message of  peace and love. 

However all that beside, in a particular extreme religious form, in the religious orientation of millions of young people brought up in rock culture, this Sixties decade gave us what has been broadly termed The Jesus Revolution, much of this confined to the US, but various forms or offshoots eventually  found a home here. It would in the late 1960s, and certainly strongly in the first half of the 1970s, come with names still remembered in some quarters – with such somewhat flamboyant characters as  Arthur Blessitt, David Wilkerson, and Larry Norman.

At first sight young followers of Jesus looked the same as their secular rock counterparts, heard the same music, let the hair hit the shoulders, and whether they had come out of a drug culture or not, they spoke their religious faith in the language of the time – so for instance they talked  of being ‘high’ on Jesus. they took ‘a trip’ with Jesus, and said mind-expanding drugs were not necessary to reach a God experience.. “Straight’ Christians thought converts from within the so-called ‘hippy’ world should cut their hair, find a shirt and tie, look respectable and not dishevelled.  However there was another voice.

Stephen Prothero in his  book American Jesus says it was the case that many within the Movement argued that if certain forms of expression were outlawed then how could the Gospel be preached? For once, seeing a resurgence of religious interest among the young, the mainstream moved fairly quickly, and joining in  to capture youth for Jesus were the brave of Campus Crusade for Christ, the long-standing Inter - Varsity Fellowship, Young Life and of course, Youth for Christ. In the US enter His Young People, Jesus People USA, Jesus Army, Christ is the Answer and the eventual somewhat notorious Children of God. Centres sprang up, not least Calvary Chapel. 

There was little empathy between The Jesus People and the mainstream, the former faith is experience-orientated, they reject reason as understood in terms of Western civilisation, with scant regard for biblical scholarship and theological nuances – why you opened the ‘good book’ and you were guided by a higher power. That was enough. That influence and view has hardly departed.

As you might expect when religious people and groups are involved there is division. People such as the fore-mentioned Blessitt, Wilkerson and best selling writer Nicky Cruz speak of colourful conversions and seem to be ever-surrounded by the would-be seekers. They seemed fascinated by the more sensational, as though God could not work through the humdrum and simple testimony that might be expressed in care and concern. 

On the other hand Norman, the one-time secular rock lead singer believes 90 per-cent of the so-called Jesus People comprised nice, middle class kids. Cruz and Blessitt preferred to speak of the drug ridden, and the crazed and almost demon possessed coming to Jesus. It made for exciting text, even film.  And perhaps among converts tjere some from these extremes. In the UK the first rumblings of the  British ‘Jesus Revolution’ came with the setting up of a commune in Bromley, Kent, but this was not until 1971. Here to we would meet the eventual discredited Children of God. 

Among various book texts in terms of The Jesus People and other groups, easily the most sane is Youthquake By Kenneth Leech (Sheldon). Leech takes in more radical Christian youth groups and notes  in general  that The Jesus People movement is adventist and other worldly. Roger C. Palms in his book The Jesus Kids says there is the belief that these are the last days.  In the UK, the radical church, seen in such a journal as Roadrunner, was concerning itself with the Kingdom of God as a present reality, in conflict with the powers and values of the present world order. 

In the US, and to some degree here, there grew up a Christian consumer industry -  car stickers, buttons, wire crosses, stitched jeans with a gospel text message, Jesus surf shops, became methods of reaching people, not forgetting endless blues or rock bands, skiffle and pop outfits, record companies and indeed Christian record and book shops. There was even a Jesus watch. Palms remind me that it had a figure like Casper the Ghost on the face pointing its hands to the time, and the words “Jesus People” printed on it.” It was a conversation starter.

And if politically orientated band hip band of the time, Country Joe and the Fish had a shout on alphabet letters, so young Christians snatched the clarion cry and so is born ‘Gimme a J,” an “E’, gimme a “S’, gimme an ‘U’, a ‘S’ – what does it spell? Jesus. So to the famous Jesus, ‘One Way” sign – index finger to the sky when you meet a believer and the shout “Praise the Lord!”

Palms writing in 1972 said it could spell the beginning of ‘a great spiritual revolution comparable to the Reformation’. It was not to be so. Still, it was an exciting time to be around, and to be a Christian, even more so. 

*** Her 1960s  psychedelic design   material can  be obtained from Shannon, Bath.
http://www.shannon-uk.com/products/FabricsandThrows/Vallila_curtains

POETRY

A Musical Mishearing

A composer there was called Mat,
who had a most musical cat;
a feline so gifted and rare,
quite unique in the world anywhere.
A friend called to see him one day
as the cat on his fiddle did play;
the friend scarcely believed his own eyes
as he stared at the cat in surprise.
“And without any music!”  he wheezed,
as the cat fiddled on with such ease.
“No need. He dreams up his own;
such talent he always has shown.
From the start when he was but a kitten
he always by music was smitten,
composing new airs every day
as he on his fiddle did play.”
“Such talent must be celebrated;
you should have your tom orchestrated,”
glowed the guest, making the poor  pussy wince -
and that cat hasn’t been seen ever since!
                                                                                    
John Waddington-Feather ©

BOOKS

Suggested reads of the moment:

  1. Born of Conviction (Oxford)   Joseph T. Riley. America divided  along racial lines, meet ‘white’ clergy and lay people who risked through words and deeds their lives.
  2. Every Song Ever (Allen Lane) Ben Ratliff. The New York Times writer’s book is sub-titled ‘Twenty Ways to Listen Music Now.’ Fascinating text. Buy.
  3. Republican Theology (Oxford) Benjamin . Lynerd.  Before Trump blows us off the planet you can read how ‘Republican theology’ can be good but often is not.
  4. Inside the Dream Palace (Simon & Schuster) Sherill Tippins. Pick this one up for a penny under four pounds in the sale book section of HMV. The ‘dream palace is The Chelsea Hotel that is seen as an icon of American invention:  a cultural dynamo and haven for the counterculture, the haven for many  from Arthur Miller, Dee Dee Ramone, Patti Smith ad Sam Shepherd among them.
  5. AccidentaL Saints (Canterbury) Nadia Bolz-Weber. Been termed “unvarnished truth-telling” – a book about God working through people  who are often shut out from religious pastures because they may smell, drink too much, have a limited vocabulary, exhibit mad tendencies and so on...this remarkable woman also wrote the exhilarating Cranky, Beautiful Faith. One quote from page 75: “But church was never meant to  be a place for escapism. It can and should be a place where we dive right into difficult truths.”

MUSIC

These CDs old and new currently blasting away at the Jasper residence.

  1. Classic Pop – 12 Inch (Rhino) Three CD set with extended versions of material b y the likes of Adeva, Visage, Sister Sledge and Blancmange. Get this in Sainsburys for a fiver or less. Bargain .
  2. Doobie Brothers – Southbound (Arista). This is the album with a cracking rock version of a song the Byrds put down, Jesus Is Just Alright .
  3. Taize – Music of unity and peace(Deutsche) Recorded at the community in Burgundy , wondrous simple hymnotic songs of faith and  yearning. 
  4. Joan Baez – 75th Birthday Celebration ((Razor & Tie) The dream life partner sounds ace and sings with a host of star guest names as everyone has to believe she is 75.
  5. Beatles – Eight Days A Week. Remixed and remastered, from 1977 , now  the movie and the sole ‘live’ set.

QUIZ TIME returns with questions on the SIXTIES

  1. What do the letters BS&T stand for?
  2. White Bird is associated with what wondrous group
  3. JJ are the letters of Christian and surname of which fabulous singer?
  4. What group contained Bob Hite
  5. Brewer and Shipley recorded which Dylan composition?
  6. Name the group with a fruit in their surname.
  7. The Moody Blues, The London Symphony Orchestra and who?
  8. For Zager & Evans what was the future year in their song title?
  9. Who sang with Brian Augur and the Trinity?
  10. What sort of bus interested The Who?e loked very straigjHH

OBIT

ERNEST MARVIN has left us. Ernest was a proud minister of the eventual United Reform Church in the UK. He was a fine preacher. He was ‘up’ on the latest music, and a long time ago he was responsible with producer Ewan Hooper for the musical A Man Dies, and this writer has extolled its many virtues in various books. The drama came out of a youth club in Bristol, and would eventually make the television screens, the Royal Albert Hall and more. At the time it attracted much praise, but also severe criticism, and even a question in Parliament that in essence wished to say A Man Dies banned.

It was simply because disciples and even Jesus wore jeans – it was that time late 1950s and early 1960s when there rigidity in church wear still reigned and one assumes there was the presumption that the disciples would have been suited and absolutely wearing a tie and shirt buttoned at the throat. O mention the early and first time zone is not pushing A Man Dies into something of ages ago – it had an inner innocence, a calmness, an infectious air and unlike many a church driven drama there was no sense someone was trying to get a message across. A Man Dies would make a vinyl album, a play text book and later commentary from Ernest on the sometimes unbelievable reaction to the text from outraged religious people. Marvin would travel the world preaching and while ministering in Sheffield he became involved in the then exciting radio station Radio Hallam under the leadership of Keith Skues, formerly BBC Radio One and the ‘pirate ship’ world. Marvin took charge of the station’s religious output and produce my long running rock-religious hour programme Celebration Rock – that also made the television screens. This somewhat unassuming man was a treasure.

QUIZ ANSWERS

1Blood, Sweat & Tears 2 It’s a Beautiful Day 3 Janis Joplin 4 Canned Heat 5 All Along The Watchtower 6 Moby Grape 7 Peter Knight 8 2525 9 Julie Driscoll 10 Magic Bus.