By: Ali ElizabethTurner
Studying people trends and history has always been something I have enjoyed, and it is an odd sensation indeed to have become old enough to have a long look back and understand in a whole new way that Solomon was right when he said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” My specific reference is to the lethal unrest in places like Charlottesville, and their accompanying ability to keep us riveted to the screen in passive helplessness.
I endured the ‘60s as a young, idealistic socialist radical, and things like Charlottesville were, for a period of about seven years, nearly an everyday occurrence. And trust me, we would have laughed “snowflakes” to scorn for expressing the need for “safe places” if someone dared to disagreed with us. In my day, the Occupy Wall Street types of events of just a few years back were not accompanied by catered organic chicken dinners and time planned in to the digital protest planner to check to see if you were trending on Facebook. There was no bottled water, and you were on your own for food. We bounced along on hard wooden floors in the back of Ryder trucks, and once there was one twin mattress to sit on with which my keister never made contact. If I say much more I am going to sound like a Monty Python movie clip that starts with “We had it tough,” and that is not my point. In spite of Charlottesville and the president daring to say that there was wrong on both sides, I actually am full of hope because of what I know about history in this country.
Before I get to that, I do need to talk about what happened during the ‘60s for a minute in order to give some perspective. Beginning in August of 1965, major riots like what we saw in Ferguson began to occur seemingly back to back, and they were with regard to all manner of subjects. They centered around race relations, the Vietnam War, feminism, generalized rebellion; we were against anything and everything we called “Establishment.” We rejected our parents’ morals, work ethic, hygiene, and faith. Some of us became violent lunatics when the prevailing slogan was “Make love, not war.” It was utter madness.
The Watts riot was in August of 1965, 34 people died, $40 million dollars of damage. Newark, New Jersey was in July of 1967, and 26 people died. Also in July of 1967 was the Detroit riot; 43 dead, over 2,000 buildings destroyed. The 1968 Democratic Party National Convention had violent demonstrations. 1970 was Kent State, 4 died, 1970 and ’71 were the D.C. demonstrations, and I have two friends who were there, one of whom at that point was a friend of Bill Ayers of the SDS, and is now a Christian and a conservative publisher of books, films, and a global internet news service.
Then, something happened. Parents began to pray, and God began to hear. There was something called the Jesus People Movement, and it began in the midst of the utter emptiness of hippie hedonism. On the beach, people were having genuine encounters with their Savior, sometimes even while they were still stoned. Just like in the book of Acts, there were visions and dreams, and by the droves brand new baby believers began to tell others. Was it messy? Sure. I don’t think many preachers here in Athens would be comfortable with someone’s witnessing technique starting off with “Dude, Jesus can get you higher than whatever it is you are smokin’ right now,” and I get that.
But it grew, and it was powerful. Billy Graham knew it was God, David Wilkerson and Chuck Smith did, too, and by 1973 there were over 40,000 kids in Texas Stadium praising God at an event called Explo ’73, and it didn’t stop there. I believe that the prayers of desperate parents rescued a generation, and I believe it is going to happen again, and soon. If you look at the history of revival in America, the darkest times of unrest are what cause it to be birthed. I wish it were not so, but typically people only look upward when everything is falling apart, or seems to be. So, you have a choice. You can wring your hands, or you can hit your knees. Whatever your choice, get ready, because we are ripe for revival, and revival can be downright restive.