Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What went wrong with the American Experiment?

Adrienne at Adrienne's Corner asked other bloggers to comment on the question, and link to her blog. She provided two links, and I read the posts, and they're both good, so I'm not going to try to duplicate them. I'll just add some of my own memories of the 1960s, with background.
I graduated from St. Bridget's Grade School in north Minneapolis in 1958 (when Pius XII had "always" been Pope, and Eisenhower had "always" been president). I went to De La Salle High School (one of the De La Salle yearbooks was themed "The Soaring Sixties"), and graduated in 1962, when John XXIII was Pope, Kennedy was president, Vatican II had not yet begun, and no one I knew had ever heard of the Beatles.

I began school at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, in the fall of 1962, in civil engineering, and I remember one prof telling us that they intended to be tough on us and wash out as many of us as they could, because they wanted only the very best getting degrees from the U. It was tough; I lasted four quarters, and had to change colleges.

All this took two years, because I occasionally dropped out of school to work enough to make enough money to afford another quarter. It was risky to drop out of school, because there was a draft then, and (as I recall it) as long as a guy was in school he would have a 2-S student deferment; otherwise he was 1-A and liable to be drafted. So it wasn't until the fall of 1964 that I found myself back on campus, and I noticed things had changed.

The most noticeable change was that the kids born in 1946 were at the U as freshmen. One other thing I noticed, which didn't affect me then bout would some later, was the beginning of the "Weekly Silent Vigil to Protest the Vietnam War." The protestors stood on the sidewalk in front of the University Armory, just across University Avenue from the Newman Center, where I hung out a lot.

The most annoying change was the time I went to noon Mass at Newman Center sometime that fall. During the Mass they sang the "Gelineau Psalms," which I took an immediate dislike to, because they sang the word "YHVH" in full, out loud. I was twenty at the time, and had been interested in Judaism and Yiddishkeit for four or five years. I knew that a pious Jew will never utter that most holy name of God; in the "prayer of prayers," the Shema Yisrael, whenever the text has the four Hebrew letters, the word Adonai, "Lord" is substituted.

This was the beginning of the era of ecumenism, interfaith dailogue and sharing, and I figured it was entirely possible that some Jewish kids from the Hillel Foundation down the street might come in and see what the goyim were up to. So after Mass, I went to one of the singers, a guy I knew from De La Salle, and explained to him why I thought we should not say the name of God out loud. And he said to me, "This is the way it's going to be around here. If you don't like it, you can get the hell out."

This was my first brush with "progressive" thinking; it wouldn't be the last.

And this was after the assassination of John Kennedy and the coming of the Beatles to the States.


  1. Linked to here from Adrienne's. Good article and points you make. Looking forward to reading more.


  2. Oh yes! The progs took over the church,too. I was born in 1945 - about as close to 1946 as one could get since my birthday is 13 minutes to midnight on New Year's Eve (1945).

    I never got in to the war protest carp and certainly not the whole hippy movement. No way was I going around with straight hair parted in the middle and no make-up! heh

    And us Derham Hall girls thought you De La Salle guys were sort of "wild" and always hung with the St.Thomas boys, who really were a bunch of weenies thinking back on the whole thing. Cretin boys weren't even on our radar.

    In hindsight the difference between the 50's and 60's was so huge as to be almost unbelievable.

    I'm sure the roaring 20's may have had the same impact, too. My mom told me tons of stories of the 20's - speakeasy's, gangsters, and such.

    St. Paul was a huge gangster hangout because it was a sanctuary city. When the gangsters came to town they checked in with the police chief at the Green Lantern bar on Market Street in St. Paul. My dad's bar was just a few doors down from the Green Lantern.

    But you probably know all that stuff already ;-)

  3. So true, the socialist progressives infiltrated our religions just as surely as they infiltrated our schools and courts.

  4. Thanks for the comments, folks! There will be more articles.

  5. "This is the way it's going to be around here. If you don't like it, you can get the hell out."

    This is what is known as liberal "compassion." Or, when done by a member of the clergy, being "pastoral."