I recently saw the movie “The Jesus Revolution”. I was dubious about seeing it given my animist, polytheist, and UU orientation. It is about the “Jesus Freaks” in the late 60’s, of which, I was kind of one, myself!
I was attending a traditional evangelical college in the late ‘60’s when the hippie movement began to impact us even in this environment. The stories I read about Haight-Ashbury, the peace, love, and anti-war messages, the psychedelic music on the radio and my then free spirited girlfriend affected me deeply! I and a lot of other students began to desire to experience Christianity and “salvation” in a different light. I craved the peace and love that I had not experienced in the Baptist and Methodists faiths, I had practiced. My heart opened and became vulnerable to the longing to be free of the fear of hell, the self denial, and the guilt over my early explorations of sex with another person.
In the summer of 1968 between my junior and senior years, I lived in Chicago where hippies and yippies filled the streets during the disastrous Democratic convention. Women’s liberation was becoming a force, eastern religions and philosophies began to have a profound influence on the counter-cultural movement and even paganism was spreading its roots. What the movie reminded me of is that the longing for love, meaning, joy, passion, ecstasy and resilience in suffering is Spiritual! It’s a matter of the heart and its relationships, not dogma, doom, and dourness!
I unexpectedly found the movie to be very moving. Millions of people were affected by both the Jesus Movement, and by the larger counter cultural worldview and movement which stopped a war and seeded the Modern Progressive movement. Many of us are who we are because of these movements!
Unfortunately, many in the Jesus Movement, despite all the peace and love messaging and trappings that covered up the “only one way”, “if you don’t accept Jesus as your personal savior, you are going to hell” message, and became the anti-LGBTQI*, anti-abortion, anti-immigrant, and right wing evangelical and Catholic church today.
Still, for me and many others, the Jesus Movement was the initial opening to be spiritually vulnerable to the great mystery, to magick, to ecstasy, and to feeling connected to the interdependent web of existence! The Summer of Love continues to ripple to this present moment!
*Ironic, given that one of the real characters in the movie, Lonnie Frisbee, was later actively gay and unfortunately died at 43 of AIDS.