Some Myths I’m Giving Up for Lent: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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32 Responses

  1. DavidM says:

    Duane, how dare you intrude into my nostalgia!! Having been at the epicenter of the Jesus Movement, I understand the “God was REALLY moving back then” mentality. While I am deeply thankful and appreciative for that chapter in my life, I see it as something that propelled me forward as a Christian. To be honest, the whole thing, while truly unique and special, was fraught with immaturity, dishonesty, simplistic “theologies”, and more. So much good came from it, but it was hardly as good as it may look in the rear view mirror.
    The danger of nostalgia is that it creates a longing for something that is often a sanitized version of reality. I have friends who look back on the high school years of 40-50 years ago as the best years of their lives. That is sad and unfortunate, as they miss the opportunities and good things about the present.
    As for the “USA as Christian Nation” thinking, I hear that all too often. I have to bite my tongue, as I don’t want to be an agent of the nostalgia police! But, you’re right, the US was never a Christian nation. There may have been a societal embracing of Judeo-Christian values more so than today, but we were never a wholly Christian nation. We live in confusing and disturbing times, so it is much easier to long for a simpler time.
    Now in my late 60’s, I am thankful for the past, but I am more preoccupied with the present and the future. I am planning for my ministry activities for the next 5-10, if God will give me continued health and resources. I want to be useful and a source of inspiration if God will allow me. I am reminded of the idea of putting my “hand to the plow” and not looking back.
    Now, back to watching “Finding Bigfoot” . . .

  2. Michael says:

    Well said, DavidM!

  3. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    No nostalgia here. As one who turns 70 in a couple of weeks, I grew up in the 50s-60s in surroundings that lived under church rule that described my people as Christ killers.

    At the same time I don’t think the church had the hold that many are waxing nostalgia about. Mad Magazine of the early 60s continually too swipes at Billy Graham and the church – the Praise the Lord was many times mocked as Praise the Lettuce.

    As to the Jesus Movement, I was at Cal State Fullerton from 1967-71 and never heard of the Jesus Movement – the only “Jesus” presence on campus (that I was aware of) was a John Bircher who carried a big waving flag while barking Bible passages at passerbys.

    Perhaps I need to back it up – I may be nostalgic for my time of lack of church awareness. 🙂

  4. pstrmike says:

    Good article Duane. If we ever meet, one of the things I would like to talk about is our experience with the Jesus Movement which included many churches. I am interested in the time when the moment began to stall, and things lost their excitement, and how that affect people. Some moved, some stayed in the faith, some moved to different traditions, some went to the out orbit of what it meant to be Christian. Interesting times, as you mentioned, a mixed bag. Lots of wheat and tares that have grown up together.

  5. Duane Arnold says:

    DavidM

    Really well stated! In seeing your post, I was reminded that after all these years we have seldom, if ever, waxed nostalgic about “back then”. Our conversations are about what’s happening to us now – good and bad – and how to move toward future ministry… I think that’s healthy!

  6. Duane Arnold says:

    pstrmike

    That’s a conversation I would love to have with you! John Michael Talbot and I have discussed it at length from our particular perspectives. We came to the conclusion that it stalled by the late 70s under the weight of it’s own supposed success… Jesus Music became CCM and commercial, churches grew, but often under leadership that could not lead effectively and education was lacking to provide balance. I’m sure that there is more to learn.

  7. Em says:

    Which came first, the Jesus Movement (didn’t give it much notice) or the God is dead mantra?

    I do remember sitting in a discussion session in a Social Studies class in 1950 where we picked apart the Billy Graham tent meetings that were going on in L.A. at the time. . . I hadn’t yet come to the conclusion that God was worthy of worship…

  8. DavidM says:

    Em, I believe that God died well before the Jesus Movement!

  9. Duane Arnold says:

    Em

    The “God is dead” approach came out of the enlightenment (especially Nietzsche) but was popularized in the mid 1960s by Thomas J. J. Altizer…

  10. Em says:

    Thank you, David ? and Dr. Duane – will have to look up Altizer

  11. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    John Warwick Montgomery debate Altizer in the early 60s and pretty much put to death the God is Dead stuff.
    I have it on tape, but I don’t think the quality was good enough to transfer to MP3 when I tried.

  12. ( |o )====::: says:

    My “back then” memories are experiences of The Jesus People gatherings, in the rented spaces which were non-church, of the sometimes spontaneous community in the parks or at the seashore, of musical worship, unplugged, where a hundred or so of us would worship Jesus, play our instruments, sing, no mics, simple percussion, the spontaneous harmonies were moving.

    (Now I wear earplugs when invited to concerts, uhh, I mean, church worship services)

    Contemplative 10 min prayer in community, with gentle instrumental music is now where I spend my time, which set me free of the haze of nostalgia.

    And I practice #6…
    https://66.media.tumblr.com/226b410529b4373b64f0d1b12ab56c53/tumblr_poktqi6AjJ1sh491mo1_640.jpg

  13. Duane Arnold says:

    G Man

    I’ve often wondered if the commercialization of the music was the “beginning of the end”…

  14. ( |o )====::: says:

    Duane,
    As I experienced it, it was ChuckSr who began the clampdown on creative expressive freedom. One Saturday night Daniel Amos played and totally rocked the gathering, and, yes, they were adventurous and free.

    The following Thursday night Sr mocked the bass player, pretending to hold a bass and flipped his head about, almost losing his glasses while disdaining the idea that the band was all about drawing attention to themselves.

    Soon after, the musicians and artists who appreciated personal freedom left to go back into the wider culture, taking their expressions of faith with them. That was actually something God redeemed because they had a kind and gentle influence on their peers. But sadly the effect on the creatives at CCCM and those churches Sr influenced was chilling, stifling, and restrictive. The initial effect of “commercialization” was the requirement that vocals all be a homogenized paste of sound. Thankfully some at Maranatha! Music pushed the envelope when The Praise Band series broke free and individual voices could be heard again, but it was still rare that guitar or keyboard solos were allowed at worship until the influence of CapoBeach Calvary when ChuckJr was there opened things up a bit.

    The “commercialization” was the effect. The CCCM Distinctives and the culture that created them were the “beginning of the end”.

  15. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Although the term is fairly recent, “moralistic therapeutic deism” really is what was practiced in America all these years and is what people wax nostalgic for. The description;
    1. A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
    2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
    3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
    4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
    5. Good people go to heaven when they die.
    Think about it, what you see in old American culture was never about Jesus – it was about religious figures, like Pat O’Brien, David Niven and / or Bing Crosby bringing good feelings in troubling times. Note that there was never really a ‘god’ figure and Jesus was nonexistent – at best the pastor / priest was the intermediary between man and god.
    Even today if you pay attention in movies and TV shows (Little House on the Prairie for example) the sermons were always some type of Old Testament generic type and never a NT Jesus centered message.
    Has anyone here read “In His Steps” (come on, I know you all did) – that was a “live the good life” – the original WWJD – with the result being to see how much better our society will be. I am quite sure Buddhists do it much better.

  16. Duane Arnold says:

    G-Man

    “The “commercialization” was the effect. The CCCM Distinctives and the culture that created them were the “beginning of the end”.”

    Good distinction. I think most of the studies of CCM overlook this and try to create a consistent narrative from Costa Mesa to Nashville. You’re right, it is the homogeneity that killed it…

  17. Duane Arnold says:

    MLD

    It was everything from Norman Vincent Peale to “Jesus, The Greatest Salesman”. American civic religion was never really about the person of Christ…

  18. Jean says:

    Duane,

    I think what you describe is a real issue. You’ve described its effects on the present life of a person very well.

    It also comes in another manifestation: The one who can’t shake the bad things of the past (sins either done by or against the individual). This one spends life reliving the a terrible past, wishing he or she could go back and change it. For anyone suffering from this affliction, Lent would be a great time to give this one up too, or better yet, give it to Jesus who atoned for all those bad things, the ones done by us as well as the ones committed against us.

  19. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    I’d not considered that aspect…

  20. Outside T. Fold says:

    On CCM/ Contemporary Christian Music: I happened to watch a documentary this weekend (thanks Netflix via USPS— Rejoice and Shout! a documentary (2010, Magnolia pictures) about Gospel music and its influences (Hooray for Sister Rosetta Tharp, the Godmother of Rock and Roll— but that’s another documentary). Rejoice and Shout has Pastor Andraé Crouch on screen, and it took me back to Andraé Crouch and the Disciples. Brother Crouch has died since this movie came out (RIP). I looked him up on wikipedia to help me recall his songs. Eye-popping at all the things he did, musically.

    If the mention of Andraé Crouch and CCM in a thread which talks of renouncing nostalgia during lent makes this an inappropriate comment for this thread, then alas for me, alas for you, alas for all of us.

  21. bob1 says:

    OTF,

    I’m an Andrea Crouch fan and I attend a liturgical church. I was lucky enough to see
    him in concert, probably in the mid to late 70s. His music was/is great!

  22. Duane Arnold says:

    Outside T. Fold

    No penalties incurred! Some of the early CCM was remarkable, no doubt about it. I still happen to think that Stonehill’s ‘Welcome to Paradise” (barring one song) is one of the great albums of all time – Christian or secular… but, don’t make me get nostalgic ?!

  23. Duane Arnold says:

    Bob1

    He was also a very nice man…

  24. bob1 says:

    Duane,

    I appreciate that very much!

  25. Outside T. Fold says:

    Duane A, I always think of a R. S. song when I stay at a certain hotel chain. Prolly had Welcome to Paradise at one time, or a friend did. So am familiar with the music. (Thank you for that note of grace!)

    Duane A and Bob1, The disc of the Rejoice & Shout documentary had extras in the special features. More Andraé Crouch documentary footage. I recommend it!

  26. Duane Arnold says:

    OTF

    I’ll take a look. You might like Jessy Dixon’s version of “Jesus is the Answer” on “Paul Simon in Concert: Live Rhymin'”…

  27. DavidM says:

    Dane, I was thinking about that cut of “Jesus is the Answer” from the Paul Simon live album yesterday. In 1974, I was driving all across the US and I wore that cassette out! That song was my favorite.
    I saw Andre Crouch and the Disciples and The Love Song in concert in 1970 at Southern California College (now Vanguard University). I thought it was one of the best concerts I had ever attended, and I had seen ALL of the major ’60’s groups by then. I thought the music was truly inspired and uplifting for the Christian.

  28. Duane Arnold says:

    DavidM

    All I can say is, “good taste”. Jessy was a friend. I miss him.

  29. CM says:

    Interestingly Scripture itself speaks about nostalgia. It is not from wisdom:

    “Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.”

    Ecclesiastes 7:10 (NASB)

  30. CM says:

    This tendency for nostalgia happens to most, if not all of us.

    Time marches on, and we look at our past in the rearview mirror (with 20-20 Hindsight no less). I suppose all of us have poignant and significant events or time periods in our lives and we think those were the best days of of lives and we wished time could stand still.

    And on that note, a couple of famous musical groups addressed this (ironically, for one group they are now retired):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOv-p3Xfhow

  31. CM says:

    Yes,

    Both are Canadians…

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