I Saw the Best Minds

In the mid 50s, the insanity of drugs, sexual perversion, rioting, pagan religion started out as a fringe movement, a trickle, as illustrated in Beat poet Allen Ginsberg’s run on sentence poem Howl. So was an overreaching, oppressive government. By the 50’s, the progressivism of the late 20s, 30s, and early 40’s had waned.


Ginsberg’s insanity has become much more mainstream today than it was in the mid 50’s, a time when people went to church and took their faith seriously, and society and families, the bedrock of society, were more stable than they are today.

Unlike the decadent pop singers of today who visit the BO White House, and, like Mohammed and the Mountain, sometimes the White House comes to them, popular artists didn’t suck up to the decadence back in the 50’s. Maybe a little naive and fanciful — Life Would be a Dream; Sha-Boom Sha-Boom… but they were basically clean.

In an interview, Mary Travers, of the Peter Paul and Mary early 60’s folk singers group said that she doesn’t identify with the Beatniks, which Ginsberg was. She described them as jobless, nihilistic, dirty bums. The only thing Mary said she had in common with them is that she’s a rebel, speaking out against things she wants changed.

Allen Ginsberg protested against the war on drugs, saw capitalism as a destructive force, and championed homosexuality. In Howl and in his other writings, Ginsberg used profane language. Early on, most publishers would not publish him.

In 1957, a bookstore manager was arrested for selling and a publisher for publishing Howl.

Although Ginsberg wrote that he saw the best minds of his generation destroyed by madness, vividly depicting the decadence, he reveled in it. This is what the modern gansta’ rappers do – revel in depravity.

Today in Bucks County, PA I see the best minds of my generation, and especially the younger generation, destroyed by madness, as exemplified in rampant drug abuse.

A year or two ago, I kept company with a very bright, formerly successful, homeless woman who was destroyed by madness. For years, she’d alternate between acting responsibility, doing constructive things and acting irresponsibly through drunkenness and bizarre behavior, stealing, putting people down, habitual use of obscenities, and trashing out her campsite. We would independently read and then discuss books together, talk about art and generally engage in intelligent conversation. Then she turned to her dark side with no sign of coming back.

On one occasion, I saw her with another drunk, talking stupid.

I see today people thinking stupid. Even back in the 70’s, left wing nuts like Gus Hall and Angela Davis got scant votes. They were not taken seriously. But politicians such as Barry Obama and the Clintons, who are about as bad, have become mainstream. I can’t believe so many people have been taken in by their welcome grin!

Just as booze makes us act stupid, so does ideology.

What do we do when we see the best minds of our generation destroyed by madness?

Offer an alternative

In the 70s, evangelist Francis Schaeffer said that freedom is being misused in this country and that one of two things will happen. Either we will have a police state, where the government will control people from the outside, or we’ll have a Reformed Christian revival where people will be changed to act right from the inside.

To do this, Christians need to preach the true gospel, and, as taught in the Book of James, practice what we preach.

Our culture today is much like that of ancient Rome. In the time of Nero, Rome was decadent and oppressive. Christians were oppressed and were being slaughtered. Today in America, we’re not at that point. Yet. Maybe if  America burns, like Nero, Barry Obama and Hillary Clinton can play fiddles. Like dueling banjos, they could do dueling fiddles. Recently Hillary Clinton proposed a national dance party.

In the Book of Peter, Christians were encouraged to keep the faith and be holy in the face of oppression and seeming hopelessness. It worked out for good. After the Roman empire fell, the Christians took over. They banned abortion and homosexuality. Women, who used to be treated like ornaments, were more respected in the Christian culture. They married pagan men and converted them.

Two epidemics hit, taking out a lot of the pagan population. Those who survived ran away. Christians stayed, and at their own peril, helped the sick.

This is how to restore a Christian consensus.


Today I am encouraged by the plethora of Christian posts on Facebook. Likewise how the churches are reaching out to the homeless in lower Bucks County, PA. They not only feed them and give them clothing, but, as man does not live by bread alone, minister the gospel to them. Like the early Christians, they graciously help them with their emotional and spiritual needs as well as their physical needs.

‘Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel and will rebuild them as they were at first. I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me and by which they have transgressed against Me.

It will be to Me a name of joy, praise and glory before all the nations of the earth which will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it.’ “Thus says the LORD, ‘Yet again there will be heard in this place, of which you say, “It is a waste, without man and without beast,” that is, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man and without inhabitant and without beast, the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who say, “Give thanks to the LORD of hosts, For the LORD is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting”; and of those who bring a thank offering into the house of the LORD.

For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were at first,’ says the LORD. “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘There will again be in this place which is waste, without man or beast, and in all its cities, a habitation of shepherds who rest their flocks. ‘In the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the lowland, in the cities of the Negev, in the land of Benjamin, in the environs of Jerusalem and in the cities of Judah, the flocks will again pass under the hands of the one who numbers them,’ says the LORD.”

Jeremiah 33:6-13

Howl Do We Get Here?

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of the night…”

— Allen Ginsberg

Where has this line of thinking found in Ginsberg’s classic beat poem Howl, written in 1955, taken us today?  Beat poets such as Allen Ginsberg, and the beat generation, were searching, pushing the envelope for meaning.  These non conformists raged against materialism and exposed the dark side of the human condition, while escaping through drugs and sexual experimentation.  They challenged tradition.

In a PBS documentary on the singing group Peter, Paul and Mary, Mary was asked if she could relate to the Beatniks.  “No,”  she said.  Mary had a problem that they don’t bathe or work, etc.  The only thing in common she had with them is that she was a rebel, challenging established traditions.

Some ideas of the Beat movement were incorporated into the hippie culture and counterculture movements in the 60’s.   In fact, Allen Ginsberg’s writings became an integral part of the early 60’s hippie culture.   This mushroomed into a purple haze at Woodstock in 1969, which was the epitome of the idea of The Noble Savage, where the restraints of civilized society were severedThis literary stock character, who first appeared in the 17th century, symbolized humanity’s innate goodness — that people are basically good by their own nature.


Although the counter culture addressed some legitimate problems, such as materialism and racism, said evangelist Francis Schaeffer, their so called solutions put them a step lower than the society they challenged.  They seemed to throw out some good things; they threw out the baby with the bath water, when they took a bath.

In the early 70’s, drugs entered the quiet suburbs and soon began to run rampant.  So did the materialism and the racism the beatniks and their successors protested against.  Racism is now in a different form, with those who were made whole during the civil rights movement now made victims. As Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said, when people are not held accountable for their behavior, they become animals.

Divorce became common as did the breakdown of the family.  Today’s sitcoms portray family life as a joke.

Homeless people are much the same as others in today’s society.  People may have a physical house, but is it a home?  It takes more than a house to make a home.

The homeless don’t have all the distractions, the bells and whistles that others have.  Although living in a primitive state, they don’t have to act like savages, which is not noble.  Like the characters in John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, many of them have drawn close to help one another.

Being homeless is tough, and some homeless people escape through drugs or alcohol, which does not resolve their problem.  Contrary to the philosophy of the Noble Savage, people do not have an innate goodness.  As the Edward G Robinson character said in the 1973 movie Soylent Green, “people have always been rotten.”   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soylent_Green

The Biblical idea that people are innately deprave is key to the first step in the 12 Step Journey program, which taps into the scriptural source of the original 12 step program started by AA to help people overcome their addictions and better manage their lives.  http://12stepjourney.com/

This 12 step program will help restore people to sanity, so they aren’t destroyed by madness.

Homeless people need to have their physical needs, as well as their spiritual, social needs met.  In lower Bucks County, PA, shelter is the biggest need amongst the homeless.  For the longest time, our country has been helping other countries meet their needs as a result of Christian charity.  But there are many needs for our fellow American’s right here at home.

If you wish to practice Christian charity, please go to our crowdfunding site http://www.gofundme.com/lq6sfc  You have the option to wait and skip the ad.