Jesus Christ was a
The Way of The Hippy
There is no character more openly despised by the
mainstream of American culture than the "dirty hippy". All you have to
do is check out one
of the many websites directed against them to verify this observation right from
From movie: "Jesus Christ Superstar"
Among Christians, the "dirty hippy" is
often thought to be the anti-type of the follower of Christ. Lazy, unsuccessful,
a slacker, a scoffer, a sinner who does drugs and has sex indiscriminately,
someone who listens to the devil's rock and roll music; ask and many evangelical
Christians will tell you: the hippy is hell-bound.
Now, when compared to hippies, we Christians have an
image in America that is ultra clean cut. The image people have of us is
shockingly like the T.V. show the The Simpsons' cartoon parody of
the Christian, Ned
Flanders. We are thought to be clean cut, gainfully employed,
"clean" mouthed, simplemindedly gullible, little house-holders with
nice fences and neat lawns. Christians are mostly known as law abiding,
tax-paying, clean-living, moralistic, judgmental, suburban and rural people.
We do nothing to dispel these images; if anything,
the American Christians are invisible, living comfortably in an increasingly
homogeneous suburban culture, conforming ourselves in every respect to a
life-style that demands a certain customary behavior pattern. In turn, we
rigidly demand everyone's obedience to that same pattern of behavior. The
"dirty hippy" just doesn't fit in, and why should he?
Among Christians the "counterculture"
movement of the 1960's and 70's is widely regarded as actually "anti-Christian"
(as in antichrist). Everything it stands for is believed to be ungodly
and sinful. People sneeringly deride the "radicalism" and
"communism" of the hippy days, and they view the
"counterculture" as nothing more than rebellion against God (as if
being "counter-culture" was the same thing as being
"counter-god"). The term "Dirty Hippy" is able to capture
with one simple phrase everything despised in American political and social
life: "liberalism", "irresponsibility",
"anti-Americanism", "moral lassitude",
"socialism", "criminal", "junkie", you name it. If
it's bad, it's been said about the "dirty hippy".
But people who know the gospel well should find this
ironic in the supreme. So-called followers of Christ sneering at hippies! The
fact is, if Jesus was to be judged impartially by the standards of the
suburbanized Christians of today's America, He would seem to be a Dirty Hippy!
That's right. If it walks like a duck, and it quacks
like a duck, it is a duck. By their fruits you shall know them. Jesus would look
like a hippy to most of us. And what you say about a duck you say about a duck.
Jesus' unadulterated gospel has about as much
respect as one would expect a Dirty Hippy to get these days, including, if not
especially, among Christians. As Jesus himself remarked: "prophets are not
without honor except in their own country and in their own house " (Matthew
13:57 cf . Mark 6:4, Luke 4:24).Here at Dirty Hippy's Liberal Christian Home
Journal, we can see clearly that the way of Christ is the way of a dirty hippy.
Jesus Christ was a Dirty Hippy
A Short Commentary on Jesus' Life and Teachings
Live For Today, Be Here Now
Why do Christians despise the hippies? Is it because
of their carefree attitudes? Their lack of concern for such practicalities as
job, proper attire, "responsibility"? Is it their silly "be
here now" spirituality? The "love the one you're with"
attitude? Some would say yes.
But consider the teachings of Jesus:
Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about
your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what
you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. -- Matthew 6:25-26
Jesus taught his disciples by the example of his
life. His faith consisted of depending totally on God to provide all needs,
food and shelter for the body, grace for the soul. He got by with a little
help from his friends. He went into the wilderness, followed by thousands of
people, and took no food with him, yet no one went hungry (Matthew 14:13-21;
Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-14). When he was hungry, he looked to
what was at hand (Mark 2:23), and he didn't worry about social conventions in
eating it, like not preparing food on the Sabbath (Mark 2:24) or washing up
before eating (Matthew 15:1-2). He would dine with people thought to be
sinners, taking no worry about his reputation or resume (Mark 2:15-17). He
went where he felt called, when he felt called. He wasn't tied down by daily
Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will
we eat?' or 'What will we wear?' For it is the nations who strive for all
these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and its righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore don't worry about
tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry for itself; sufficient to the day is the
trouble thereof. -- Matthew 6:31-34
When Jesus sat down on the mountain to teach and
explain his faith, he taught against the crushing anxiety that gives people
cause to compete with one another for the resources of the earth. He taught
against the fear for our lives that makes us hate one another. He taught
against the striving and
the ambition which prevent us from seeing what is
truly present here among us already. He taught us to forget about tomorrow, to
let today's trouble's alone concern us. The same applies to the moment you
live in, every moment. He teaches us to be concerned about our lives NOW,
about our relationships NOW. That is the true meaning of his teachings about
the kingdom of God and it's righteousness. When we seek it, we find that it is
close at hand indeed.
Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when
the kingdom of God was coming and he answered, The Kingdom of God is not
coming things that can be observed; nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or
'There it is!' For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.
Contrary to popular belief, the phrase
"kingdom of God" does not refer to the next world. It refers to this
world. The kingdom of heaven is not heaven, the abode of God -- it is found
wherever God rules. Do not we Christians pray, and live in the hope that
"thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven"?
The idea is that the kingdom comes about here. And we seek it daily like
bread. The kingdom of God, also called the kingdom of heaven, is to be found
wherever God reigns among humans here on earth.
The kingdom cannot be stopped by hatred; it is the
very condition of repaying hatred with love. The kingdom of God
exists, for instance, in Jesus' hanging on the cross, as he prayed for God to
forgive the sins of his tormentors. And it meets violence and evil with love
and does not resist. The kingdom of God, with its tender, other-worldly
ethics, is always challenged by this world. As Jesus said: "From the days
of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and
the violent take it by force" (Matthew 11:12).
Whoever recognizes that the kingdom of God on
earth is already present among the meek, among the gentle, among the
peacemakers, among those who have no anxieties about clothing, food, money, or
the troubles of tomorrow, among those who care for all as brothers and
sisters, that one will realize that the "counter-culture" was and is
on to something fundamentally godly. The "be here now" hippy knows
is that the kingdom of heaven is precisely in all those in-between moments,
when the rest of the world is still waiting, looking for something that can be
Dirty, Unclean, Unwashed, Defiled, Offensive
Then the disciples of John came to him, saying:
"why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"
-- Matthew 9:14
Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus
from Jerusalem and said, "Why do your disciples break the tradition of
the elders? For they do not wash their hands before they eat." -- Matthew
When he was speaking, a Pharisee invited him
to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. The Pharisee
was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. -- Luke 11:37-38
Your garden-variety complaint against hippies is
that they are "dirty". People complain that they don't wash, shave,
or pay attention to their appearance. However, Jesus certainly wasn't known
for his cleanliness. He was criticized for not observing purity laws. He was
criticized because his disciples did not observe the common religious fasting
for the sake of purity. In the presence of Christ (and remember, wherever two
or three are gathered in His name, He is there) there is no need for such
fasting and concern for purity. As Jesus said, in response to the shocked
Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the
cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You
fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for
alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.
-- Luke 11:39-40
It is the gift of God, present in the giving of
thanks, in the sharing of love, in the fellowship of resources shared, that
cleanses. Neither washing, nor rituals of purity, nor abstaining from certain
foods or drink, nor wearing of special clothing, can bring godliness. People
who are so concerned about "looking right", about dressing
"properly", about "decorum" and the like, have not
understood that God's presence is not known or seen in such things, but that
the inward love of the soul makes all things clean for us.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look
beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and all kinds of
filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are
full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. -- Matthew 23:27-28
Jesus criticizes Pharisees for being overly
concerned about cleanliness and "ritual purity", while ignoring the
inner defilement of their luxuriant lifestyles and judgmental attitudes. Jesus
wasn't against sanctification or "moral" purity. It just was not
where he started, when he pointed people to the kingdom. Instead he looked at
a people who were skilled at keeping pure, and he compared their insides to
what they themselves hated: the impure abominations of the corpses of the
dead. Absolutely defiling. He looked at a people skilled at keeping the law
and its moral codes, and he said they were filled with lawlessness. This is a
new definition of law, folks!
Jesus causes offense by criticizing those who
reduce spirituality to ritual purity. This helps lead to his rejection by the
leaders of society, who bring about his crucifixion. The "world",
defined by the actions of those who guard the status quo, thus rejects
"god", defined and represented by the words and deeds and person of
Jesus. This happens today as well, every time human beings who believe that
their cultural expectations of "holiness" are true religion reject
others based on their external differences.
Tolerance and Other Liberal
The meaning, for us, of Jesus' refusal to observe
purity laws, is that sin is no longer
to be regarded as something external, but as an internal condition of
spirit. The Way shows us that ideas of cleanliness and purity create strife,
division and ungodly exclusion in our human "world". We expect the
"world" to judge according to its conventional categories of culture
and ideal expectations. We know that people judge according to their
ideologies, which are worldly things; ideologies are all idolatries. But we
expect more from Christians. When Christians focus on the external conditions
of a person's life: judging a person by their clothing, by the kind of work
they do, by their inattention to social niceties, by their conformity or
non-conformity to social expectations, when they criticize people for not
being "normal", or for being "unnatural", they err in the
same way the Pharisees erred. What Christians fail to recognize, all too
often, is that the "normal" thing is the "world's" thing,
not the way of Christ.
Do not judge, lest you be judged. For, by
the judgement you render you will be judged, and, by the standard you use to
measure you will be measured. -- Matthew 7:1-2
The issue seems to be that all human beings
imagine that the standard they use to judge is divine. Any time people judge,
they think they do so with good reason. They elevate their idol to the status
of a God, and judge by that standard. This is true regardless of whether a
person is religious or not. Now do you want to be judged by a human standard
of cultural origin, or by God, whose grace is infinite?
The Pharisees would point to the law, and say,
"we only judge based on God's Word." They believed that they had
God's word in their scriptures and in their tradition of interpretation of
those scriptures. In the case of some modern Christians, they hold up the
actual Bible and say, "THIS is God's Word, it does not CONTAIN God's
Word, it IS God's Word". And by this, they don't just mean the bible
simply, but they bible as they read it and teach that it should be read.
Furthermore, they are perfectly willing to judge people based on that standard
reading they render. But anyone can see the idolatry inherent in saying a BOOK
is God's Word... right in the very same book it says: "in the beginning
was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God"
(John 1:1). God, who is God's Word, a living, free being, loves the
"world" and desires to save it by a free gift (John 3:16). God's
word did not become a book for us to use to judge other people; by God's grace
we have the Spirit which teaches us how to love and thus to teach love.
In everything do to others as you would have
them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
-- Matthew 7:12
Now from the life of Jesus we learn that God's
will is summarized in the Golden rule, God's will is summarized in love of
neighbor as one's self, found in and with the total love of God. Jesus taught
that this was the message of the "Law" and the "Prophets"
of scripture. We know God's will is taught by the story of the good Samaritan,
by stories of feeding the hungry and poor, and clothing the needy, and sharing
table-fellowship with sinners. We hear God's will in stories of healing the
sick, stories of selfless compassion, stories of the sacrifice of our
resources, teachings of giving away our wealth. We know how to seek the
kingdom and its righteousness, and how to hope for it on earth. It doesn't
involve slavish literal interpretation of the scriptures. It involves a loving
response to the challenges of life, lived moment by moment.
The burden of Jesus' teaching in this area is that
the dirty, unclean, offensive, unwelcome, unacceptable, defiled, sinful person
cannot be judged by human standards. Christians may reason with one another
about behaviors they view as inappropriate to the body of people who are
supposed to bear witness to God's infinite love here among the dirty, unclean,
offensive, unwelcome, unacceptable, defiled, sinful human beings. However, we
are not to bring judgment. Our witness is to the good news of salvation for
all. Liberal Christians would like to claim credit for giving birth to the
spirit of tolerance so despised by conservative Americans. As a preacher I
know is fond of saying, "we're just one beggar telling another beggar
where to find bread." The bread of life might help us sanctify ourselves,
but no amount of sanctification can ever overcome the defilement of being an
intolerant people. The truth of a holy life with God begins with a life lived
without judging other people's sins.
Peace, Love, Justice, Understanding, Man
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst
for righteousness, for they will be filled." -- Matthew 5:6
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of
God." -- Matthew 5:9
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." -- Matthew
"You have heard it that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and
hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who
persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in Heaven; for he
makes the sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous
and the unrighteous." -- Matthew 5:43-45
Today, even some Christians complain that
"the no good liberals are always talking about peace and love and
understanding". There is a reason why good Christians emphasize love and
peace! Jesus taught us these things, above all else, as the center of God's
will for us. Nothing else is central. No little command or law takes
precedence over it. When we say that we are called to hunger and thirst for
righteousness, we aren't talking about wishing that
everyone else would stop
being immoral. We are talking about a burning thirst for the end of violence
and the end of hate. We are talking about the ravaging hunger for the end to
war, for the end to the violence of greed, for the end to the violence of
nations who hate other nations, to and end of the violence that lets one man
defraud another of his very life-blood.
The petty sins of this world are of no concern to
someone with this kind of thirst. To the person who hungers and thirsts for
righteousness, if one man controls a bad habit, it is only the tiniest
mist-like drop of water in the searing desert of injustice that is the mass of
humanity's way of dealing with each other and their world. There will always
be egos, always be selfishness, always be someone who needs some help with a
personal shortcoming. But what we are taught to seek is much greater, more
ambitious, more a part of the realm of the dreamers. The foolish idealism of
certain Christians is legendary. Glory be to God! We do not abandon hope that
we can be filled, by the simple path of love and charity and compassion.
This optimistic, non-judgmental thirst for
righteousness is what drives the activists to the streets to stop a war. It is
what drives the dirty hippy away from the world (seen for what it is: unjust)
and into a "counter-culture". That counter- culture isn't
anti-Christian... it is against the human manifestations of evil that have
sucked us all complacently into their web. It is against human-culture, not
God's ineffable peace. And the fearful, hateful, compassionless, judgmental
world is so far from the kingdom, as they bar-b-que behind their fences in
their exclusive walled communities, and sit behind T.V. trays in comfortable
living rooms, that they look at their T.V. screens and say: 'what is wrong
with those protestors and agitators? they are all a bunch of communists'...
and then they hope that the police get rid of them. They never once wonder
what it might mean to be a peacemaker.
The 'Glutton' and The 'Drunkard'
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and
they say, 'He has a demon'; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they
say, 'Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'
Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds. -- Matthew 11:18-19
The Pharisees' concern with the external matters
actually prevents them from seeing the truth of the kingdom. They look at
Jesus and they see a defiled person, a sinner among sinners, one who, because
he eats with people they call gluttons and drunkards, is himself to be called
a glutton and a drunkard. They don't look and see the presence of God. This is
what Christians see when they see hippies. And if they saw Jesus among the
hippies, they would not recognize him. In fact, however Jesus were to come, if
he came again, it seems likely that many people who love the Christian
"faith" would not
recognize him as their God, and would ignore
him... many are called. It is our private conceit to believe we would
have been one of those followers of Christ in his day. Most of us would not
have done so.
When most modern Americans think of a hippy, they
think of a druggie. And in today's age, that image marks a person as an enemy
in the "war on drugs" (how can you fight a war without enemies?). We
want to punish those druggies and their dealers. But we modern Americans
aren't the only ones who thought that the rebellious and disobedient
free-living flower children ought to be punished. Deuteronomy chapter 21,
verses 18 through 21, instructs that parents with a "stubborn and
rebellious son" are to bring him before the authorities, denounce him as
"a glutton and a drunkard", and "then all the men of the town
shall stone him to death." The text goes on to say: "so you shall
purge the evil from your midst; and all Israel will hear, and be afraid."
Ancient Israelite Law, at one point, prescribed death for addiction. And
ancient near eastern wisdom had taught that the "glutton and
drunkard" would come to poverty and rags (Proverbs 19-21)!
But this is of course precisely the way Jesus
appeared, himself a veiled fulfillment of the prophecy found in the wisdom
literature and the law. He did not teach his disciples to avoid this
reputation. He embraced it, and it got him killed. It has helped him (and some
of his followers, down through the years) win persecution.
The dirty hippies are hated in part because of the
association they have with the use of intoxicants. The hippy, in so far as he
or she is associated with such things, is therefore a despised and pitied
Now the Christians of America have a long history
of condemning the use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs (it was Christian
activists behind alcohol prohibition in the twenties and thirties). And yet
Christians do not tend to oppose these things in a
"counter-cultural" way, but by actively politically supporting
things like the "war on drugs". Today's Christians, because of their
bias against drug use, are not averse to making use of all the powers of the
state to try and control and combat drugs and the people who make and take
them. But you don't have to be a Christian to support the drug war. Most
people seem to be willing to criminalize, imprison, even execute those people
who supply and/or use illegal drugs.
What Christians fail to realize is that, however
justified our principled criticism of drug ABUSE, Jesus also had this
reputation of being a "glutton and a drunkard". When we condemn
others for USE of drugs and alcohol, and condemn people for enjoyment of food,
sex, and other so-called "worldly pleasures", we join in with the
crowds who crucified Jesus in chanting "crucify him!"
Jesus and His followers freely drank wine at
celebrations like the wedding of Cana, passover, and in other appropriate
places of celebration. He and His disciples had a reputation for not following
the ritual calender of fasting and abstaining from food and drink which was
practiced by other religious orders like the Pharisees and John's Baptists,
2:18-20), (Matthew 9:14-17), and (Luke 5:33-39), as well as other
passages. This fact disturbed many people in their time.
We need to acknowledge that not all USE is ABUSE.
We need to acknowledge the role of eating and drinking, in a celebratory
manner, in the ministry of Jesus. We need to see that, while abuse is always a
concern, there is nothing inherently evil in the sharing of fellowship, the
enjoyment of food in community, the sharing of intoxicants among friends.
Christians traditionally have hated the "hippy lifestyle", the
care-free, celebratory, "partying" that they engage in, without
cause or reason. It is just another example of how being caught up in worldly
ideas of propriety close us off to joy and bring about our participation in
tyranny, oppression, and the evil of authoritarianism.
There may in fact be a time and a place for
moderate, celebratory consumption of food and drink and even so-called
"drugs". We should be careful to condemn those who feel the need to
USE these things, and not assume, with the crowd, that the appearance of
eating and drinking makes someone a "glutton and a drunkard" worthy
of death. Jesus taught us that, if we fast, if we abstain, we do so for the
sake of our own souls, and he wanted us to be sure we did not do so simply for
the reputation of being "holy". Do not let your fasting be seen
by others. If we have a wisdom about the importance of abstinence for our
spiritual lives, we should share it modestly, temperately, and lovingly,
without making it a hard and fast "doctrine" by which we condemn
others, or sentence them to jail terms, or God forbid, to death.
The Hippy is Homeless and Poor
The wandering, rootless, care-free hippy is one of
the most feared characters in the American psyche. This is because that
person, unlike the normal down on luck homeless person, has CHOSEN their
lifestyle. There is no greater contrast to the nuclear family and the
picket-fence ideal of the American
dream than the voluntary vagabond longhair
hippy. In some ways, the Christian reaction to homelessness is exemplary: we
start soup kitchens, shelters, job-training services, and so on. But we hope
to help the homeless person make it in a society the hippy tramp has left
willingly, and mostly we envision them living out a piece of our
"American Dream". In contrast, Jesus addressed the issues of
economic and social justice and homelessness by himself renouncing all money,
property, and household. He took to the streets, and lived, like a dirty
hippy, DELIBERATELY as a homeless person.
A scribe then approached and said, 'Teacher,
I will follow you wherever you go.' And Jesus said to him: Foxes have holes,
and birds of their air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his
head." -- Matthew 8:19-20
As the scriptures tell the story, after his
baptismal experience, Jesus gave up traditional family life, and he never
again settled down in any one place. He travelled from town to town, accepting
the hospitality of householders, but his advice to them was always the same:
Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is
your father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions,
and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing
treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where
your treasure is there your heart will be also. -- Luke 18:32-34
You lack one thing; go, sell what you own,
and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then
come, follow me. -- Mark 10:21
Great crowds did follow him! Jesus led them away
from their settled lives as house-holders. The gospel of Mark, chapter 3,
tells the story of how, when Jesus came back home to Nazareth once he had his
little "conversion" experience in the desert, he was followed by a
great, aimless, poverty-stricken crowd, his family thought he was crazy, or
possessed. In today's day and age he would be thought of as a kook or even, as
a drugged out hippie. Wouldn't you think that of your son, who suddenly
dropped out of college, gave up his career plans to wander the hills preaching
peace followed by a bunch of people with nothing to eat and no business being
This aspect of Jesus' Way is usually ignored or
interpreted away in contemporary Christianity. We know that, if we acted like
Jesus told people to act in his time, we would not be able to stay in our
homes, jobs or apartments for long! We would lose everything, and the world
would make examples of us. That is, however, precisely the point. That's what
Jesus advocated for his followers. Try to go to your nearest church, and
explain this idea to the board of trustees. Try to live it yourself! I tell
you, you can't even begin to imagine it! I know I can't really do it. Yet this
is Christ's teaching! And we have the gall to despise a poor aimless hippy!
Do not judge a poor dirty hippy, who has found a
way to live day to day, trusting in providence to provide, living on a hope
and a prayer, on a miracle and a ride. That person's faith may be more real
than your own. We Christians act impertinently audacious when we dare to
imagine that our clean-living suburban life style is superior to the very life
style advocated by Christ.
The Hippy has Tuned In, Turned On, and Dropped Out
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying
Come out of her, my people,
so that you do not take part in her sins, and so that you do not share in her
plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her
iniquities. -- Revelation 18:4-5
The Christian knows, following Jesus, following
Paul, following the visionary who wrote Revelation, the world to be
fundamentally at odds with the "kingdom of God". Under the sign of
"Babylon", the city of humanity is indicted for prizing wealth above
humanity, for prizing power with no thought to the cost of blood, for prizing
her divisions and idolatries above the truth of God's kingdom of peace. The
"world" is that term which Christians use to refer to the dynamics
of worldly power, control, strife, violence, and the economics of human
idolatry. Shortly later in this prophetic vision, 'John' sees the merchants of
the world weeping at the sight of the city of splendid wealth and opportunity
vanish in flames.
From what has already been said about Jesus' way,
it is clear that the radical way of Christ is incompatible with the usual
commitments and compromises which humans make with the human world. But we
have difficulty following Jesus. Therefore Christians have always dealt with
the having an ethic of "being in the world, but not of the world"
(cf. John 17:16-18, 2 Corinthians 10:3, Colossians 2:20, 1 John 2:16, etc.)
And yet, taken at face value, what Jesus' life and demands upon us signal is
that we must try to live 'out' of the world.
Consequently, there is nothing more ironic than
the fact that members of this holier-than-thou brand of Christian religion
view the "drop-out" lifestyle and mentality of the dirty hippy with
scorn. By trying to live an alternative lifestyle, to mold and maintain a
"counter-culture", the "dirty hippy" attempts to do
nothing more than to follow that Way to which the Christian is also called. To
live within the world, but not in conformity with the world. The dirty
hippy is just trying to flee Babylon.
If the architects of our culture and the
powers-that-be had their way, every American would eat at the same chain
restaurants, wear the same, mass produced clothing, and consume the same
mass-produced art. The materialistic, plastic, disposable culture of the
suburban sprawl, the homogeneous, monopolistic and bland culture of
consumerism would shape every thought and reduce America, or even our entire
world, to one uniform, predictable morass. We would fund the lives of a few
fabulously wealthy people, while all the rest of us hope that every worker
chasing the dream of a secure retirement will succeed.
You Can Draw Your Own Conclusions
The average "hippy" already has everything
in place to be a good Christian. All that remains is for the "hippies"
to meet Him, to have faith, to love God, and to love other human beings as
themselves. Despised as he or she is, the "dirty hippy" is closer to
the Kingdom of God than his or her critics.
The case has been made. Jesus WAS a dirty hippy. Yet
although this is true, most Christians will probably find ways of justifying to
themselves their own rejection of Christ's teachings about wealth, clothing,
housing, food and drink, love and trust in God. Christians will simply invent
new standards, or hold to traditional standards of behavior which suit
"church" life and "suburban" or "civilized" life
much better than the "care-free" (anxiety-free... the key to Christ's
teachings about ethics) life of the hippy.
The Hippy and the Local Church
One fellow Christian web-master
shared the following "funny story" with us which illustrates this
situation very well:
It seems there was a hippy who had a personal
revelation of Jesus Christ, believed and got saved. After reading his bible,
it became clear to him that he needed to fellowship with other believers and
join a local church. The hippy chose the local independent, fundamentalist
Baptist church. Upon arriving on Sunday, he was met at the door by a deacon
who informed him, "You can't come in here looking like that." The
young man replied, "But sir, I'm a new Christian and I want to come in
and worship my God." The deacon sternly told him, "Well son, go cut
your hair and come back next Sunday looking respectable."
The hippy left, rather disappointed, but determined to do whatever it took to
get to worship his God. And on Monday morning, he got a haircut. The next
Sunday arrived and again the hippy was met at the door by the old deacon who
said, "You can't come in here looking like that." The young man
replied, "But sir, I'm a new Christian and I have come to worship my
God." The deacon sternly told him, "Well son, shave that beard,
loose those bell bottoms and the love beads and come back next Sunday looking
respectable." The hippy left, rather disappointed, but determined to do
whatever it took to get to worship his God. On Monday, he went out and bought
a new suit and a new razor and he shaved his beard.
The following Sunday arrived and again the hippy was met at the door by the
old deacon who said, "You can't come in here without a bible." The
young man replied, "But sir, I'm a new Christian and I want to come in
and worship my God." The deacon sternly told him, "Well son, you
ought to know that you can't come to church without a King James bible."
The hippy left, rather disappointed, but determined to do whatever it took to
get to worship his God. On Monday, he went out and bought a brand new twelve
pound, King James bible like he had seen the other church people with. Sunday
finally arrived and the hippy was convinced that he would finally be allowed
into the church to worship his God. Again he was met at the door by the old
deacon who said, "You can't come in here." The young man replied,
"But sir, I'm a new Christian and I want to come in and worship my God.
I've done everything you've asked. I cut my hair, shaved my beard, bought a
suit like yours and a bible like yours." And then the deacon said,
"Son, don't you understand? We just don't want your type in here."
In tears of anger and frustration, the hippy left and began to call out to
God, "Father, I've followed your word and sought out other believers to
fellowship with and I've done everything they've asked and still they won't
let me in. What have I done wrong?" Suddenly, a light shined down from
the sky and a voice from heaven saying, "Don't worry my son - you have
done nothing wrong. I've been trying to get in there since they built the
place and they won't let me in there either."
-- heard on a tape from Quail Ridge Bible Church in Baton Rouge - Pastor Frank
This story is pretty damn sad. But it holds more
than a few kernels of truth. We do not know how Christians have ever come into
this ironic situation, where they forgotten the fundamentals of their own
religion. And yet many socially "conservative" Christians will call
themselves fundamentalists! It seems that we do not know what it would mean
really to be fundamentalists! We Christians have exchanged the pure,
unadulterated gospel and teachings of Christ for a message based on safety, fear
and exclusion. Safety for ourselves. Fear of difference. And exclusion of
"outsiders". So-called fundamentalists make sexuality,
"moral" behavior, and the impending judgment of the so-called sinners
(the dirty hippies) the center of their gospel message... but never preach grace
for the sinner, the radical path of discipleship in its challenge to worldly
forms of life, or the Jesus Christ who lived and died a radical existence two
thousand years ago. Here are people who boast that they take the bible to be
"inerrant", and yet do not follow its teachings on the most basic
doctrines of discipleship (Luke 6:46).
We are all EXACTLY like the Pharisees of Jesus' day, we are neo-pharisees. Jesus
said of us:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against human beings; for you
neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in.-- Matthew 23:13
Following the Way
A minority of Americans still live the
"hippy" lifestyle, shunning working in the corporate world, shunning
the wasteful, disposable, plastic, materialistic, polluting lifestyle of our
increasingly "sub-urban" America. Such "liberals" live among
us all over the place, and "normal" Americans fear them, pity them,
and treat these "dirty hippies" like second class citizens. The
"pot-smoking liberal" is a fairly common and clichéd phrase in
American social language, dating from the sixties and the counter-culture, but
applied today all the time, by regular, hard-working, suspicious and judgmental Christian
people. But we have demonstrated that the so-called "dirty hippy" is
actually closer to the Kingdom of God than is the clean living American ...
Christian or not.
If one could compared a "hippy" Christian
to the "suburbanite" Christian, one finds that the latter looks more
like a kind of neo-pharisee, while the former resembles Christ. The suburbanite
more or less embraces the human world as it is without questioning its forms,
its authority, or its social behaviors. The hippy questions, resists, and
embraces a way of life that is ready at hand, that is opposed to the world's
evil, but that opposes war with peace now. If necessary, the "radical"
will take the cross upon itself and die rather than oppose war with war. That is
the Way. That's the true meaning and spirit of the "counter-culture"
and of Christ. A war not fought with the weapons of this world, but with a
The basis of Christian ethics is to imitate Christ,
who is the pattern of God's perfect way for us (1 Corinthians 11:1, cf. Matthew
5:48). Therefore, we must take the resemblances between the "hippy
way" and "the WAY" seriously. In our local churches, and in our
homes and families, we need more of the freedom of the hippy way. We need more
tolerant, laid-back, anxiety-free, counter-cultural lives. We need more
radicalism, more activism, and more opposition to the ways of the world: war,
violence, imprisonment, control, dominance, power, money, "business",
"law", etc. We need to be more giving, more hospitable, more
"wacko" in our dedication to the faith. Otherwise we look nothing like
Christ and we understand nothing of his real demands on our lives. Of course, of
course, we have to "render unto caesar" -- but we also have to
"render unto God". Like Paul said, we are supposed to give ourselves
as a "living sacrifice".
Christian, you want an enemy to fight? How about
Mammon!! Stop worrying about the economy... and your daily bread. Tomorrow will
worry for itself. That's God's economics. Yes, yes, being a good steward of your
money is fine. But being a good steward of your love is more important. Jesus
taught us to spill out our love. He showed how to stand up and sacrifice
"life" in order to save it. That is the investment that yields a
hundred fold that the parable speaks of. Instead of
worrying that the lesbians are in florida and the teens are smoking pot, we
should perhaps be concerned that we haven't rebelled against the culture of
consumption, against the huge, government subsidized international conglomerates
which are trying to control our destinies, against the crushing spirit of
conformity which grips the world and squeezes us for "market share".
The spiritual emptiness of the suburbs, and the
accompanying social problems that go along with it, aren't caused by marijuana,
teen sex, underage smoking, family values or welfare. The problems are caused by
the widespread behavior patterns dominant in our culture among believer and
non-believer alike. We have placed material comfort, success, and the safe above
every other value. In our emptiness, we focus on "sins" because they
are actually viewed as impediments to "success" as the WORLD has
defined it. People flee the homogeneous, brain-dead, T.V. hypnotized, culturally
flat, inhibited, loveless, dysfunctional, economically unjust, racist, violent
world around them and fly into things like drugs and sex and so on. This is
normal rebellion. And these things probably don't work very well, or for long.
But for the world to struggle against such sins is very much like a disease
trying to fight its own symptoms -- it only makes them worse.
Luckily, there is plenty of hope! Human beings are
very creative. They can make unique ways for themselves. They possess the
GOD-GIVEN creativity of spiritual beings. We can always find alternatives to the
vacuity of the mass-produced commodity which passes for culture in our nation.
Divine creativity can and does and always will challenge the human
"world" which we have created. Thus, we see God at work in those
people who volunteer, who forsake everything and stand up for justice and for
one another, who share community life, who celebrate, who seek the meaning of
life in the creation of Art, who make music together, who know the beauty of
nature, who commune with the divine heart of all things. These people keep hope
alive for all of us. We should celebrate all people in their uniqueness, and to
the extent that they have successfully managed to escape the "world"
and to bring the "kingdom" back into it through the spirit welcome the
coming of the kingdom among us all.
We should look to the back-to-the-land,
slow-me-down-lord values of the original dirty hippy himself, Jesus. That Way is
freedom. We should stand up for this freedom politically. Stop voting for
politicians who live for the corporate hand-out, who maintain the national
security state, who feed the military industrial complex with your tax money,
who want to arrest your neighbors for smoking weed, who would rather be invited
to a rich man's fundraising gala than themselves go teach in a poor school.
Let's get out and vote instead for people who respect true and complete freedom
for all people regardless of "lifestyle". Let's get out and vote with
all our bodies and souls and minds and strengths, loving God and neighbor as our
Can you do it? Can I? I don't know. Maybe with God's
help. For Christ answered Peter who skeptically wondered if any person could do
without wealth or the ways of the world with the cryptic phrase: "with
humankind this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." God is
merciful to those who are merciful.
Taken from the dirty
hippy liberal christian home journal.
What Is Sin?
by Rev. Matthew Baldwin
Nobody Believes In SIN Anymore.
Most people are familiar with the word "sin", but in this age,
very few people have any use for the term. It's not that modern,
secularized Americans are uncomfortable with the idea. They by and large
just don't believe in it. And while almost everybody agrees that certain
things people do are not good, not nice, or just plain wrong or bad,
very few people understand what it adds to talk about these things as
sins. It is just not a very fashionable idea anymore, even among
mainline and liberal Christians.
Sin, after all, is a theological concept,
and it makes little sense in a society which no longer understands human
behavior in relationship to an idea of God. Human behavior, our secular
society believes, is best explained and regulated by psychology and
psychiatry, criminology, market-studies, history, and polling data, by
brain chemistry, genetics, environmental factors and animal nature, by
social influences and structures. In other words, whatever idea of good
and bad we have is usually related to one of these areas of knowledge.
People assume "sin" is incompatible, as an idea, with these
ways of understanding human behavior, that it doesn't take into account
the subtleties of real life.
Modern people refuse to talk about
"sin" when they are serious about dealing with
human problems. But this is a result of a misunderstanding of the term.
And this misunderstanding has been perpetuated by the prevalence of a
simple idea of sin which is believed by the majority of conservative
Christians. This idea of "sin" is that it is a
"thing" (an "action") which is a part of a list of
"things" which God wants to prohibit human beings from doing.
So people believe that the Christian faith teaches that God has defined
a certain number of particular actions as off limits. People think that
true Christians must believe certain things to be sins, and that God has
promised to punish human beings who "do" these
"things" .Since modern people accept as accurate this
misrepresentation of sin which has been offered by the conservative
Christians, they are unable to find any use for the term. Their
consciences and their experience and their reason tell them that there
is no such list of things which God (if there is a God) has disapproved
of. Their understanding of the "bad" is much more nuanced and
useful than the common Christian idea. The trouble is, when people
accept this popular idea of what "sin" is, whether they want
to believe in its truth and value or not, they end up being wrong about
sin for the same reasons that people were wrong about sin in the time of
Jesus. So both modern liberal secular people and conservative
Christians, who both believe that Christianity teaches only certain
things about sin, are both mistaken.
Conservative Christians today still believe
in that traditional list of "sins" which has occupied the "evangelical"
message of American protestantism for around 180 years. The list goes
something like this: No drinking. No dancing. No smoking. No swearing.
No chewing. No playing cards. No skipping church. No heavy petting. No
sex before marriage. No living together before marriage. Of course, the
list goes on and on, including a hodge-podge of rules old and familiar
and new ones formulated to deal with modern inventions (like photography
and movies and musical instruments and pharmacology).
for instance, a modern tract from the conservative branch of
Christianity encourages kids to avoid going to hell by praising them for
refusing to accept a cigarette offered by a "bad seed", even
though the bible never addresses the issue of smoking anything.
Nobody should be blamed if they don't
believe these things on the classic list are "sins".
People shouldn't be blamed for not believing that these things are sins,
because they aren't!
something quite different about sin.
He dealt with a similar situation in his day, when he addressed the
morality of the Pharisees. In Jesus' time, people thought that to
"do" certain "things" was "sin".
They spoke of a person who had sinned as "defiled" -- in the
same way we speak of certain things as being "dirty" today.
The gospel of Matthew tells a
story where Jesus is caught eating a meal
with the Pharisees, who were people overly concerned with religious
purity, but eating that meal with unwashed hands, which was an offense
to the purity of the Pharisees' table. It defiled Jesus and everyone at
the table. When he was challenged about it, Jesus replied: "hear
and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what
comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." (Matthew
15:10 and following).
We can easily perceive the truth of what Jesus says. It is not the
wine, nor is it the drinking of the wine, that is a "sin".
Those are just things. They are potentially neutral actions. But if a
drinker, after getting drunk, beats his or her spouse, or values
drinking so much more than family, friends or job that he or she loses
these things, then the drinker is making a mistake, using bad judgment,
and needs to get "straight".
In religious language, that person "sins"... he or
she has become separated from God precisely because of the separation
which has taken place in his or her relationships with others (Galatians
5:13). Drinking alcohol doesn't necessarily lead to "sin",
that is, to human problems. What matters is what happens as a result of
what you do, to yourself and the people who share your life. Obviously,
the same is true of dancing, playing dice, using drugs, looking at
pornography, having sex, and every other kind of behavior which
"Christians" usually call sinful.
Things that the Pharisees thought were
"sins" were in fact outside of the body and could
not defile the soul: dirty hands, pork, shellfish, dead bodies, etc.
With one saying, Jesus changes the whole focus of the traditional idea
of sin, as it was defined by the Jewish Law. Instead, Jesus points out (Matthew
15:18-20) that "what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the
heart, and this defiles a man." Now clearly, Jesus is speaking in a
metaphor. For Jesus gives a number of examples of what he means by
"what comes out of the mouth", and few of them are things that
actually come out of people's mouths.
To claim, as some conservatives have,
that in this passage Jesus is only interested in talking about
"sins" of a culinary and dietary nature -- as if this passage
only deals with the issue of whether Christians should keep Kosher -- is
simply wrong. When he speaks about that which "goes into the
mouth" he is speaking on both a literal and metaphorical level. Not
only is he talking about unwashed hands and the rules of keeping Kosher,
but he is talking about all socially, legally defined "sins"
that are merely associated with some more or less feared or dangerous
substance or behavior. He is talking about every rule in the law which
discusses "abominations": behaviors which were once thought to
make God disgusted. Instead, Jesus teaches us that God only looks at the
heart and what "proceeds" from it through the
"mouth"; God is not concerned about the abominations of
contact with defiling things, but with the abomination of our inner
lives being filled with hate and selfishness and illusions.
God only cares about the state of our
"hearts". Though Jesus seems to go on in this
passage to offer a "list" of "things" that are
"sins", actually he is only offering some examples of what
happens when we are "defiled" in our "hearts", when
we have evil intentions. In his list, the "sin" has already
taken place in the heart, before the action, and the "sin"
leads to the action. When we act, we act out of our heart and our
intentions. If our heart is "defiled", then acting on our
hearts in that case just gets us deeper into the same trouble we're
already in. If we really look at the list he makes we notice something:
each of these "sins" involves hurting other people, it
involves being in a bad relationship to other humans; each of these
"sins" is something that happens when we proceed from
something other than love in our hearts.
Evil Thoughts: This should
really be translated as "evil plans" or
"devisings". This first item on the list is the beginning
of all the others. It is when the mind becomes occupied with itself
first, second, third and fourth, and not at all with the neighbor
and God. The mind is a tool which underlies all of our action. When
we "put our mind to" something, we can do it; and when we
want something evil to happen, we may think of a way. It is when we
act on it that it comes "out of the mouth".
Murder: the "second"
human sin, the sin of Cain, breaks the fundamental rule of human
life, the logic of the golden rule. It breaks the great unspoken
understanding among people that we are to allow (if not actually to
help) each other to live. It values the self infinitely more than
the other, and cares not at all what other people feel, need,
deserve. Again, it comes "out" of us... into our
Adultery: when you hurt your
life-partner by breaking your promise, by trying to hide it, and by
placing a hidden relationship into the space between you, you cause
pain and suffering, some might say some of the worst that there is.
Obviously, the problem with this "sin" is that it is a
transgression against trust, understanding and love.
Fornication: most people think
this simply means "sex before marriage" or "outside
marriage". They are really quite wrong. "Fornication"
is really is a catch-all term in the New Testament referring to two
things: sexual immorality and idolatry of false "gods".
Put in modern day context, we could and should understand it as
referring to everything from, on the one hand, sexual addiction to
sexual harassment and rape, to worship of money, power, and
influence on the other. The term covers all unwanted, violent,
unhealthy or unloving sexuality, as well as obsessions which bring
about misery because they are founded in greed and desire to gain
power and influence with the "gods" of our age. There can
most certainly be innocent sexuality outside of marriage. The bible
does not value virginity simply for its own sake. Virgins are not
necessarily morally pure or even free from "fornication".
Theft, usually stems from
greed and fear, and violates the common trust of people. But even
when we think theft is "justified" by need of people, it
hurts others by tempting them into hatred of the thief!
False witness, an attempt to
hurt another person by telling lies about them before the
Slander, an attempt to hurt
another person by dragging their name in the mud, by engaging in
gossip and backstabbing.
Sin is about relationships.
Despite the appearance that this is a definitive list, we see that all
of these "actions" are mentioned in order to illustrate what
happens when the heart is sinful, and they all come "out" of
the "mouth", in the sense that they cause pain and harm in our
relationships with other human beings.
There is no final list of sins.
is the only place in the New Testament where Jesus offers a
"list" of "sins". His usual practice was to cut
straight to the heart of the matter. Someone once asked Jesus what were
the most important commandments of God. Perhaps this man expecting a
list, like the Ten Commandments, which would tell him how to avoid the
wrath of God. Instead, Jesus simply said, "You shall love the
Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all
your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And second is like
it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments
depend all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew
Jesus teaches us that LOVE is the solution
to human problems. The radical effect of this teaching cannot
be underestimated. Jesus taught that EVERYTHING in scriptures, written
in all the prophets and all the law, everything EVER written about what
God demanded of human beings, came down to two simple principles of
behavior, focused on one word: LOVE. The human being lives life in sin
when the human being does not love; put another way: anything not done
out of love ultimately is sin. The point of every true, divinely
inspired scripture which had ever been written could be reduced to one
teaching: all you need is love.
Seen in this way, SIN is far from an irrelevant
concept. There is an overwhelming need for love in this
world. But people are not sure how to love God. People are not even sure
if there is a God. To help us on the way, Christianity gives us an
insight: love of neighbor is "like" the love of God! When we
love one another, when we give life, and follow Jesus' radical way, we
show forth the Love of God, and we in fact act out of Love for God. Love of
God is love of God's creation. God's requirements of us are simple, and
have been made known to us in the deepest parts of our conscience. Sin
is a most reasonable idea, when we consider that its opposite is Love.
And God's requirements of us are simple. (Micah
Jesus calls us to a better way of
understanding "sin" than the popular way. There is
no final list of "sins" that will be valid for every person.
There is only one requirement and one standard used by God to judge
human behavior: is it done out of love? God asks whether what we do is
done out of love.
The judgment of God is present in our
actions. When we share love, we will be loved. When things
are not done out of love, they cause things other than love to return to
us. For when we sow hatred and indifference, we reap discord, strife,
violence and hatred in kind. When we act out of the evil in our hearts,
we create evil in the world which affects people. We live in families,
communities and a world torn apart by lack of true love. And we make it
worse, both by pretending that there is no sin, and that sin is only a
list of things one shouldn't do. Increasingly, conservative Christians
have adopted a concept of sin which lets them off the hook, which
ignores the collective, cumulative aspect of sin. At the same time, the
secular "experts" have adopted a futile language for talking
about human problems which hides our individual responsibility for our
own and other people's suffering.
But the understanding of sin which TRUE Christianity teaches shows
that SIN and the suffering caused by SIN always remains a potential and
even inevitable problem for human beings for which we all always bear
responsibility. For in our freedom, we rarely choose to act out of pure,
all-encompassing divine love. Instead, we recite lists, and proclaim
rules, in an effort to justify ourselves by saying: "I don't do
these things, so I am not a sinner; but you are!" That's not love!
None of our lists of "sins" are complete, none are definitive,
none perfect, none absolute. The only thing absolute is that God
requires our love of one another, manifested in justice, mercy, and
kindness. Since we are always failing at this, we rely on the infinite
mercy of God, the divine example of how we are to treat one another.
That is how Jesus intends us to be saved from SIN, by following the
divine example of mercy, and sacrificing our selves and our claims to
holiness and purity upon the Cross.
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