Monday, April 26, 2010

Letter to a high-school girl, part 2

Hi, A----,

Maybe I should apologize for giving you far more material than you can use, but on second thought, I won't, because one of the main tasks of a researcher is picking and choosing from the material available. You'll find that you always accumulate far more material than goes into the finished product.

Anyway -- you asked: "Did you have contact with or awareness about the Civil Rights movement?" and "What were your feelings and reactions like about the Civil Rights movement?"

The only contact I had with the Civil Rights movement was that one of my friends joined the "Freedom Riders" and went South to help with black voter registration. I remember that I tried to talk him out of it. If I recall rightly, I told him that yes, the cause was worthy, but I had a suspicion that white folks in the South were going to resent a bunch of "damn Yankees" coming down there and telling them how to run their own affairs. (Even as late as 1964, there were Southerners still fighting the Civil War, there was still a superior attitude on the part of Southern whites, and a long-lingering resentment against Northerners.)

My feelings about the whole business were (and still are) that confrontation rarely accomplishes any good. Granted that the black folks North and South were still victims of many injustices large and small, but the riots and protests were worse than useless because they reinforced white-racist stereotypes about blacks, and they set up (or increased) in young blacks' minds a sense of resentment toward "Whitey" and an attitude of entitlement (rather than justice). It was as if the attitude changed from "This is unjust" (as Dr. King said) to "You owe me!" as people like the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam said.

* * * * *

You asked: "Did you have contact with or awareness of the counterculture (hippies)?" and "What did you think about the hippies of the 1960's?"

I knew about them and, at the same time, envied and had no respect for them. After all, the idea of sitting around all day, doing nothing but smoking pot, having sex all the time, and having other people feed them is a nice dream, but it's unreal. By the time the hippies came around, my values from the 40's and 50's (and a couple generations before that) were thoroughly internalized, even if I couldn't always put them into words. "Turn on, tune in, drop out" sounds like a nice slogan -- but! I have to note with a certain sarcasm that the hippie culture got its start in "sunny California" rather than in Siberian Minnesota.

(By the way, I think tattoos and piercings are barbaric. Can't stand them. "If it feels good, do it!" is a slogan straight from hell.)

* * * * *

You asked: "Did you have contact with or awareness with regard to the women's movement?" and "What were your reactions like towards the women's movement in the 1960's?"

I have to drop back a few years to the 50's and early 60's and say that women's undergarments were far more rigid and confining than they are now. Even Maureen, who I took to the prom in 1962, wore a corset (I didn't see it, but when she had to sit on my lap in the car ride home she wasn't cuddly). I didn't know girls were soft and jiggly until I was well into my twenties, when the girls on campus started wearing different undergarments, or none at all.

Now this gets us to the very center of the Christian teaching about sex. Sex is the privilege of the married, period, end of discussion! Naturally a normal healthy guy takes some pleasure in looking at gals in verious states of undress -- BUT that's the "old Adam" working, not the grace of God. So my reactions were very mixed, and again, it's the life-long fight within every human soul (male or female) between following the Lord or not following Him.

I am very blessed to have been old enough, and to have had definite views about modesty, that I could sense that the outward manifestations of the women's movement and the hippie movement, were in a lot of ways wrong. They were contrary to everything I had been taught, and what I was taught was right.

(One day in the mid-90's I remarked at work that I was raised with the belief that marriage-sex-children is a package deal. You want one, you have to take all; if you reject one, you have to give up all. My co-workers looked at me like I was from a different planet. Such is a symptom of the de-Christianization of America.)

I have to stick in here that the most hideous outgrowth of the women's movement, or feminism, or whatever, is the notion that women have the "right to control their own bodies." So, ignoring scientific evidence of the humanity of the unborn, and the fact that the baby is not part of the mother's body, we have now suffered the loss of at least fifty million unborn children.

I might add that I see on facebook almost every day young women wearing things that their grandmothers never would have dreamed of wearing, and their great-grandmothers would probably spank them for. One of the things that the women's movement helped diminish or destroy was the sense of modesty for both sexes. The "women's libbers" played right into the hands of Hugh Hefner and his allies, who taught a whole generation of American men that women are objects to be used. (I got it from a trusted source just last week that the most common cause of death of pregnant women is murder.)

By the way, this has been going on for ages. G. K. Chesterton (who I recommend to your attention) remarked about all this a hundred years ago. And while I'm on great Christian writers, I have to mention C. S. Lewis and his book Mere Christianity. It was one of the books that brought home to me that the Christian faith I was taught as a child is also complex enough to be intelligently accepted by an adult.

I have to add that one of the things I liked about the Highway Department was equal pay for equal work. At the hotel, the chambermaids got paid less than the housemen, even though their work was just as hard if not harder. I know, because when we got short of maids I had to be a maid and do sixteen rooms in one shift.

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