The 1960s was an interesting period to grow up in as society was in major flux. Throughout the decade, Walter Cronkite reported on civil rights battles, Vietnam, the rising youth culture and drugs, the peace movement, the beginning of the fight for women’s rights, the growing awareness of the environment, the dawn of computer technology, etc. Young people were rapidly losing faith in traditional institutions and were turning elsewhere for answers.
Because of my five older sisters’ love of The Beatles, I constantly heard the group’s music on the family stereo from 1964 until the end of the decade. Every time a new Beatles album came out it would be played over, and over, and over again until we all knew the words of every song by heart.
I recently watched a PBS special on the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” released in 1967. The album was a revolutionary recording at the time with its pioneering studio gimmickry. It was the first LP album cover which included the song lyrics and we were all transfixed by “heavy” wisdom of the far-out Beatles.
Jim McGuinn of The Byrds and a Beatles contemporary proclaimed in 1966, “Lord Buckley (comedic hipster) said that the entertainers now are the new clergy.”
Institutional religion appeared as passé and the rock and roll troubadours seemed to have all the answers. “Sex, drugs, and rock and roll” was the new religion of the young and rock concerts were the new churches. Albums like “Sgt. Pepper” were the new bibles.
John Lennon of the Beatles went even farther that same year when he declared, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that. I’m right and I’ll be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first, rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”
Lennon was right in some respects. Cultural (c)hristianity, the kind Lennon was familiar with, has all but disappeared in Europe and is declining in the U.S. But the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone continues to go out into the world.
Jim McGuinn changed his first name to Roger in 1967 as part of his initiation into an Eastern religion. But after hitting rock-bottom after years of heavy drug use, McGuinn accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior in 1977.
The Beatles’ partnership was formally dissolved in 1975 after five years of bitter personal and legal acrimony. I guess the lads needed more than love after all. John Lennon was murdered by an insane fan in 1980 and his Beatles-mate, George Harrison, died of lung cancer in 2001.
People are still chasing after something to fill the spiritual vacuum in their soul. Jesus Christ is the ONLY solid Rock, yesterday, today, and forever!
“Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.” – Acts 17:21