I have a hard time with most aspects of hippie culture. That said, I used to be one. I have a solid resume in that department, multiple Grateful Dead concerts included, and still drive an Hybrid (which gives me some street cred in the Whole Foods parking lot), but that’s not really what this post is about…
Have you already come across the video footage (below) of a recent Rainbow Gathering? Watching it made me both laugh and cry. Then it made me wonder. You only need to watch a few seconds of it at random to understand this post, btw. The entire clip features 101 minutes of pure, unadulterated, modern-day “pagan worship.” Therein we find humanism, pantheism, secularism, antinomianism
, atheism, romanticism, sentimentality, and mysticism, among others. It epitomizes the type of stuff that turns my stomach (in a human sense), but it also intrigues me (i.e., in a Christian sense).
What to say about it? If you prefer a more traditional form of worship to that of contemporary stuff, you may feel affirmed in watching this. The reason has to do with the obvious fact that, in some ways, this material resembles (at least in style) a huge percentage of contemporary Christian worship. Yet it could not be less Christian. I don’t necessarily think there is a connection between contemporary styles of worship and the loss of faith, but there there may be. Tangent: the band Joy Electric simultaneously present a strong argument for and against such a stance.
Either way, it is also worth noting that worship is not a uniquely Christian phenomenon. These people are indeed doing the same kind of thing Christians do on a Sunday, yet the theological material that governs the two philosophies could not be more divergent.
If you were to suggest that, on an ideological level, sound Christian doctrine is just the opposite of whatever it is that these people believe, I would be inclined to agree with you, even without a detailed analysis. Perhaps I should be more careful. But these are the kinds of thoughts that come to mind as I watch these folks doing their thing.
Similarly, if the Gospel
can be defined at all apaphatically (i.e., through opposites)
by looking at all the things that it is not, then this video may even be an avant-garde form of preaching the Gospel. Now I’m really out in left-field. (Note: these are just thoughts, meditations, not doctrinal statements ripe for confession.)
But does the Lutheran notion of subcontrario
, have any relevancy when dealing with/making sense of this material? I do think opposing forces have an impact upon much of our inner life (see also: Romans 7, Gal 5:17
). Does being repulsed by the opposite of Christianity drive a person into the cross of Christ? If nothing else, it seems to help move things along in that direction.
It is material that begs the question: does riding in a VW Bus make you want to buy a Volvo? Does it inspire a new-found open-mindedness where yachting is concerned? How many former deadheads now wear Weejuns? And how many of them now put their faith in Christ? And, for that matter, what is to be said about jam bands who try to reconcile the two extremes into a popped-collar-hippie hybrid? Is that the most secular position of all, uniting hippie theology with materialistic instinct? For what it’s worth, my band in college, Three-Way, once opened for Moe
, and my return to church involvement at that point was imminent. For that reason, I associate jam bands with the prevenient grace
of God. Don’t you?