The Age of Rebellion
NO GENERATION has seen more rebellion than ours—all forms of rebellion, especially the revolt of youth. Today’s age of rebellion might well be called “the revolt of youth” were it not for the fact that rebellion by adults has spawned the whole tragic business. One rebellion lays the groundwork for another kind of rebellion.
“What makes the revolt of modern youth serious,” explains Judge Elijah Adlow of Boston’s Municipal Court, “is that it bears little resemblance to what was once viewed as juvenile delinquency.” He explains that “today the crimes of violence in which the young indulge can never be mistaken for boyish pranks” of previous ages. “The fact of the matter is,” says psychologist Dr. Robert Lindner, “that the mutiny of the young is not an ordinary social ailment, but a virulent epidemic affecting the race of man.” Thus each country has its own terminology for today’s youthful delinquents; and in the United States they have become known as “rebels without a cause.”
Youthful rebels have been divided into two general classes. One group makes up those delinquents inclined toward violence. The other group is made up of those who rebel against restriction so that they can live by their sensual desires, enjoying the excitement of the moment. This latter group has been termed the “Beat Generation.” Since the Soviet sputniks went into orbit these youthful rebels are commonly called “beatniks.” Authorities differentiate between the juvenile delinquents and the so-called beatniks, since the latter have certain beliefs, attitudes and convictions about life and society. The beatniks’ living-for-the-moment way of life is their religion.
An article called “The ‘Beat’ Generation” appeared in the December 7, 1959, issue of Current Affairs Bulletin, published by the Department of Tutorial Classes in the University of Sydney, Australia. The article brings out that the “Beat Generation” made its appearance just after World War II. “Jack Kerouac, the best known novelist and prophet of the American group, coined the phrase ‘Beat Generation.’ His novel, On the Road, describes the way of life of himself and a circle of friends, and attempts to describe their intensely private vision. A group of high-spirited young men travel back and forth across the United States, either hitchhiking or using secondhand cars, going to wild parties . . . , living on very little or nothing, occasionally stealing, and always talking intensely about love, God and salvation, listening ardently to jazz in small crowded joints and availing themselves freely of casual, generous and beautiful girls. . . . The quest for ‘immediate experience’ means that first place is given to sexual freedom. . . . Like many jazz enthusiasts the Beat Generation may indulge marijuana, morphine and other drugs. . . . The beatnik is not so much an addict as an ironical and detached admirer of his state of bliss.”
To enjoy a self-styled paradise on earth the beatniks live for the sensations of the moment. This “new group of rebels,” the University of Sydney publication explains, lived a subterranean existence until 1957, when the publication of Kerouac’s novel gave them a kind of bible: “‘The only people for me are the mad ones,’ says Sal Paradise, the narrator of On the Road, ‘the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.’ . . . The book tries also to express the irremediable antagonism of interest between people who enjoy themselves without inhibitions, who take all they can get from life and have a scorn for safe living, and people who are curbed by scruples from following all their impulses and satisfying all their appetites.”
The article says that the rebellion of the beatniks “reflects a widespread calling into question of industrial civilization” and adds: “The romantic conviction that every young person has a unique mission to fulfill if only he or she could know what it was, has created a general enthusiasm for vague ideas, partly as a substitute for a dying religion. Kerouac is noted for his insistence that the basic impulse of the Beat Generation is a religious one: to find oneself is to find God.”
Where, then, lies the blame for today’s youthful rebels? In the rebellion of the adults—husbands, wives and, yes, Christendom’s clergy.
Wives, rebelling against the headship of their husbands, have really rebelled against God, who commands in his Word: “Let wives be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord.” (Eph. 5:22) Fathers who fail to bring up their children “in the discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah” have rebelled against God. (Eph. 6:4) With parents themselves in rebellion, the home’s discipline, cohesiveness and happiness have been shattered; the groundwork has been laid for a rebellion by youth.
The clergy have been powerless to check the rebellion of youth, for they themselves have long been in rebellion against God. The fundamentalist clergy, in direct violation of God’s Word, have added traditions and philosophies of men. The modernist clergy have rebelled against God by rejecting the Bible and by putting modern man on a pedestal to worship. Viewing the religions of Christendom as “a dying religion,” the beatniks have developed their own religion. Their rebellion is also against God and his divine commandments, but they have not received guidance from modern society, which in itself has rejected God by its actions.
Christendom, then, is in revolt against God, for the mass of professed Christians have become what the Bible calls “rebels against light.” (Job 24:13) The Holy Bible is the Book of Light, and the “good news of the kingdom” that Jesus said would be “preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations” is a message of light. (Matt. 24:14) By rejecting God’s established kingdom, Christendom’s professed Christians make themselves “rebels against light.”
The revolt of youth has thus been spawned in this age of rebellion. It is rebellion against God, his divine commandments and his established kingdom.