Jesus Freaks Part 2

22 Nov

ImageΒ Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β  Happy Thanksgiving! I wanted to talk a little more about Jesus freaks, because I didn’t really explain how hippie freaks became Jesus freaks. Back in the mid 1960s, long hair was neither normal nor was it accepted in society. If you went to the wrong place you could get beat up, refused service or ostracized just for having long hair. Straight, short haired people considered the long haired hippies to be freaks, in a weird way. However, the hippies turned it back in their faces and began to call each other freaks, until the word “freak” was part of the vocabulary. Pretty soon there were motorcycle freaks, acid freaks, young freaks, old freaks, and Jesus freaks.

In the beginning, hippie freaks were interested in spiritual paths, so they read religious literature from every corner of the earth, including the Bible. Jack Kerouac talked about everything from Zen Buddhism to Christianity in his seminal counter culture books, β€œOn The Road” and β€œThe Dharma Bums.” Then Gordon Wasson was featured in LIFE magazine for his anthropological studies of the religious importance of psilocybin mushrooms to indigenous tribes in Southern Mexico and Aldous Huxley published β€œThe Doors of Perception,” about mescaline. Albert Hoffman discovered LSD in Switzerland at Sandoz pharmaceutical in 1938, but didn’t experience its psychedelic effects until 1943. By the late 1950s all these mind expanding substances were being used for research on every level, from the military mind control to medical psychiatric psychoanalysis.

Ken Kesey, the father of the hippie movement as documented by Tom Wolfe in β€œThe Electric Kool Aid Acid Test,” led the psychedelic assault from the West Coast, while Timothy Leary led it from the East Coast. The message was disseminated by everyone from The Beatles and Donavan Leach to the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix. After thousands took mind expanding drugs and opened themselves up the spiritual realm in new and powerful ways, leaders were sought in the form of gurus. Jesus became one in the pantheon of gurus that was available to choose from.

Then pop culture gave Jesus a push when Weber and Rice produced β€œJesus Christ Superstar,” which catapulted the Son of God to the pinnacle of pop culture. Of course as one became interested in Jesus. β€œGodspell” propelled the clown messiah to new heights, as the conservative church condemned this representation of their deity as blasphemous. However, one of the bi-products of an infatuation with Jesus is an increase of Bible reading, which created questions. Where do you go to get questions answered about the Bible, Jesus, God, and other spiritual things? A church of course. If the pastor was smart and could relate to the stoned hippies he would allow them to develop their own ministry to themselves which almost always included music.

Soon there were 30, 40, and 50 year oldΒ  ministers with churches that were starting to fill up with long haired, bare foot, bell bottomed freaks, who loved Jesus more than the people that were already part of the church. In some cases the Jesus freaks had to leave to avoid a church split, while in others some people left but the rest opened their arms to the Jesus freaks and created what came to be called new paradigm hybrid churches. These were all Protestant churches. The revolution in the Roman Catholic Church already happened when Vatican II implemented its rulings.

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One Response to “Jesus Freaks Part 2”

  1. ssbalm November 22, 2012 at 7:10 PM #

    Great comments and pictures, Bob. Such sweet memories of Lonnie Frisbee, Second Chapter, Love Song and Larry Norman. When Children of the Day recorded, Buck Herring was our engineer, too, so we got to hear early 2nd Chapter – before Matt’s voice even changed πŸ™‚ What a lovely time.

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