ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE
the sudden popularity of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show and the disastrous Democratic convention in Chicago when it all effectively ended. It was the time of poets like Ferlinghetti and Ginsberg, a brief moment in time now cherished in fond memory by men and women now in high position. No one living today may live long enough to see such a period again. There had not been one since the days of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce on the left bank of the Seine in the Paris of the 1920s and early 1930s.
I began my ministry as pastor of Wellesley Fells Community Universalist Church in 1952. The church was a small liberal congregation in a lovely suburban town just outside Boston, Massachusetts. The people of the community were almost entirely young families of my own generation. Most of us were children during the Great Depression, and had been caught up in the maelstrom of World War II. Many had been overseas. All had long since wearied of adventure and longed for domestic bliss, preferably a house in the country. Most had to settle for a house in the suburbs.
They were completely absorbed in their children, and, to them, parenthood was the most important of their concerns. There was general consensus that our generation and all generations past had utterly failed, and that the world’s hope lay with this new generation of youngsters. Everything centered around the kids, what they were doing at school, what parts each had in the school plays, whether they liked peanut butter and banana or peanut butter and bacon sandwiches. Their parents, many of whom were highly-educated professionals, talked of nothing else. They all read and passed around books by pediatricians like Spock and child psychologists like Gesell. The kids were made to believe that nothing in their parents’ lives ever had been as important as they were.
In the course of my parish calls I soon discovered that there was much desperation underneath this veneer of domestic tranquillity; many unhappy marriages, many frustrated housewives who yearned to be somebody besides “Mama,” and husbands who fled to basement worshops as soon as they came home. These were affluent, upwardly-mobile people, who, with improving incomes, moved from Wellesley Fells to the more elegant neighborhoods of nearby Wellesley Hills. They had material wealth, but many of them were inwardly empty. Their salvation, they said, lay with their children.
The children, for their part, were never free from their parents and other adults. Their days were programmed by adult-directed activities. There was never a time when the kids could just play by themselves, read, or work at hobbies. Their parents knew everything they did, steered them, constantly hovered over them, pampered them, and petted them. I predicted that some day they would rebel, and they did. These were the kids who became the hippies.
Some hippies turned inward to seek deeper sources of spirituality than they had found in the conventional faiths in which they had been reared. Those engaged in this quest included many young priests, ministers, and rabbis. My best friends in Louisiana were several young Catholic priests who shared this