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Monday, June 22, 2015

Faith Steps excerpt: A personal journey--existential angst and the Strange Book

Part V in a series of excerpts from my new book, Faith Steps, which encourages and equips people of faith to engage with friends and in the public arena on vital issues.
From Chapter Four, A Personal Journey:
The cultural revolution of the 1960's, launched during the tumult of the Vietnam War and fed by radical ideology and drugs, had shaken the traditional American foundations of faith, morality and even reality itself. It hadn't taken much, it seemed, to strip the nation of its religious facade, revealing superficial beliefs ungrounded in Scripture and a cultural religion that had drifted far away from the living God.
No one, as far as I could discern, seemed to come even close to offering any real answers to the meaning of life, the nature of man or the existence of a Creator.
Haight Ashbury hippies turned out to be better at turning on to drugs than offering any substantive alternatives to the American capitalism they simultaneously despised and depended upon. My parents' generation had won World War II and provided wonderfully for their families, but many couldn't muster much meaning in life beyond financial security. So their children, wise to their parents' emptiness and hypocrisy but not to their own, traipsed off into Zen, LSD and Woodstock.
American political leaders had launched a successful race to the moon and built an unrivaled economy but then violated the public trust with moral lapses and bungled burglaries. Mainline religious leaders had long since lost the biblical moorings for faith and taken to mumbling a social gospel that eschewed spiritual life for the latest hip political ideology. Educators were trading traditional scholastic disciplines for subjective, "relevant" explorations–like the high school course I took on Rock and Roll.
I found the silence of meaning terrifying.

Good News / Strange News

In desperation, I took up reading a paperback copy of Good News for Modern Man–a loose, modern translation of the New Testament. I would read passages for a while but could only take so much of what struck me as bewildering, even bizarre.
I was looking to plant my feet on firm ground, not float off into spooky spiritualism. Angels and demons, prophecies and parables. That stuff practically made me shiver.
Yet after a time, for some reason, I would once again delve into the pages of the Strange Book....
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