The word Hippie has a lot of connotations. Most of them are bad, but I suppose that depends on your perspective. If thinking about Hippies automatically makes you break out in hives, however, let me assure you that Hippie culture is not all bad, nor is it all good. (Which means, of course, that it’s like every other culture in the world).

Yesterday I talked about two values that destroyed modern civilization. Francis Schaeffer identified these values as “personal peace” and “affluence.” As a generation in the midst of the twentieth century embraced these two values, they became apathetic about most everything. To them, there was nothing wrong with this. To their children coming of age in the 60s and 70s, however, this was revolting.

This generation looked at their parents and wanted nothing to do with their sugary Leave-It-to-Beaver lifestyle. What that saw was fake. Plastic. What they wanted was real. Genuine. They didn’t want pretenses or the appearance of having it all together. They wanted to let it all hang out and find out what was real.

So they acted out. They pursued ideologies in ways that their parents never had. They aggressively experimented with drugs, sex, and alcohol. They threw themselves into rock n’ roll. Plenty were just going along for the ride, but many pursued these things ideologically. They were searching for meaning, for some experience that would validate their lives and give them a sense of reality. In fact, even those who were just after the pleasure often did this as a means of finding a philosophical experience through the pleasure itself.

Here’s the thing. We can look back at the Hippies and mock them for Woodstock. We can call them stoners and look down on them for being so rebellious and out of touch with their parents. But Schaeffer insists that this generation was doing something right. They were searching for something. They saw their parents’ values of personal peace and affluence for what they really were: bankrupt. They wanted nothing to do with these values, so they rebelled and tried something different.

Steve Jobs in 1976

The problem is, they didn’t find what they were looking for. In the tradition of Ecclesiastes, they looked everywhere for meaning and found nothing. So what did they do? They fell in line. They stopped acting out. They got jobs, moved a few steps up the corporate ladder, and started families. The only remnants of their rebellion were the closet pot smoking and their continued fascination with Dylan and the Beatles.

But most importantly, they ended exactly where their parents had been. They too embraced personal peace and affluence as their highest values. They dressed differently and still couldn’t quite relate to their parents, but in this area they were identical. Many looked at this mellowing out and rejoiced. The Woodstock generation is behind us! Our children are normal again! But Schaeffer says that he could have cried. At least they had been passionate about something! Now their lives were devoted to the same impoverished values their parents had settled into.

So what about us? What do you really care about? What drives you? What are you pursuing? Does your subculture make you feel unique? In touch? Are you a passionate type of person?

As I said yesterday, don’t assume that being passionate in general is enough to carry you through. What you want to see is action. Devotion. You want to see your beliefs making a difference in your life and in the people around you. If all you have is a rebellious passion, it doesn’t matter whether your ideology is drug taking or evangelizing.

At the end of the day, if your highest values are personal peace and affluence, you’re still just sitting on the sidelines. Too much of the church today looks no different than the world in this respect. They wear Christian t-shirts and attend Christian services, but these are mild forms of rebellion that eventually fade back into the pursuit of personal peace and affluence.

See these values for what they are and let your commitment to Christ and his kingdom transform you and the world around you.

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Mark Beuving currently serves as Associate Pastor at Creekside Church in Rocklin, CA. Prior to going back into pastoral ministry, Mark spent ten years on staff at Eternity Bible College as a Campus Pastor, Dean of Students, and then Associate Professor. Mark now teaches online adjunct for Eternity. He is passionate about building up the body of Christ, training future leaders for the Church, and writing. Though he is interested in many areas of theology and philosophy, Mark is most fascinated with practical theology and exploring the many ways in which the Bible can speak to and transform our world. He is the author of "Resonate: Enjoying God's Gift of Music" and the co-author with Francis Chan of "Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples." Mark lives in Rocklin with his wife and two daughters.


    • Good point, Michael. I’m sure that was a significant factor. But I’d still say this holds as a general pattern. There are plenty of things to get outraged over today, yet we still seem to keep coming back to these two values. Not invariably, just typically.

  1. Yes, Mark, society keep coming back to those two values. But I never saw my generation as seeing them as ‘revolting.’ What they saw as revolting was the war and draft, cf. Lennon “Imagine there’s no heaven…nothing to kill or die for and no religion, too;” Neil Young “Tin soldiers and Nixon com’n, four dead in Ohio'” The Who, “We’ll be fighting in the streets
    With our children at our feet
    And the morals that they worship will be gone
    And the men who spurred us on
    Sit in judgment of all wrong
    They decide and the shotgun sings the song” etc.

    • Oh, I see. I think I missed your point in your last comment then. So you’re saying that the hippies weren’t acting out against their parents apathy but rather against the Vietnam war? That would make a lot of sense.

      I wasn’t there, so I can’t speak for myself, I was just relaying Schaeffer’s take on the whole thing. He’s pretty convincing, but you’d be hard pressed to deny that people were upset at the war (understatement!). Maybe it’s enough to say that it’s not an either/or?