Monday, December 22, 2008

We Are Astounded

I may have white hair but I'm not exactly ancient. I'm not old enough for Medicare. However, I am beginning to feel pretty much like a relic of another time.

In the forty years since my siblings and I graduated from high school much has changed. It is enough that we are amazed and astounded by the technical changes over the past fifty years. We were of the Sputnik generation and I remember scanning the skies to watch the first Russian satellites blink their way across the heavens. The first Sputnik, a mere 22 inches in diameter, was launched into space in October 1957. Sputnik II soon followed. The race to dominate space was begun.

I remember Texas Instrument's first electronic cost a small fortune. Now pocket calculators are a dime a dozen. The first computer I encountered was while I worked at Hughes Aircraft in Costa Mesa, California in the 1960s. It took up an entire room and was leased from Texas Instruments.

Our home has gone through numerous computers in the past twenty years. Ditto digital cameras and cell phones. Our "used" car has GPS. My hubby and I each have our own iPods loaded with podcasts by a host of favorite Christian pastors and teachers (John Piper, Arturo Azurdia, White Horse Inn, R.C. Sproul, etc.) whom we like to listen to during the many hours we spend on the road.

My siblings and I have pretty much kept up with the technology of the times. We're not exactly decrepit and not yet musty or moldy behind the ears. We each navigate life well. We've dealt with the issues of parenting, finances, buying homes, selling homes, moving across country, finishing long careers in education, sales, local labor force, and administration. In other words, we've kept up with the times and appreciate the many marvelous changes that make today's life a bit easier than when we were kids.

But we recognize and are astounded by another and more dangerous shift in our nation, our world.

Yesterday our family gathered at my mother's home where we munched on pizza, Christmas candy, cheese and chips and chatted and caught up with each other's lives.

At one point one of my younger brothers commented that his adult children don't believe him when he tells them marijuana was pretty much unheard of and meth was non-existent in our high school days. Oh, we knew that during the 1920s and 1930s there were "potheads" who were addicted to maryjane as it was referred to. But we knew of no one in our 1960s school who used drugs of any kind.

Don't get me wrong. My brothers were not exactly saints. We lived ten miles from town and they drove to and from school in order to participate in football and other extracurricular activities. They knew how to test the limits of parental curfews and they also had a few beers with their friends. But drugs? No, nobody used drugs.

But drugs are not the only cultural change over the past 40-50 years. The moral climate has changed as well. During our growing up years it was rare to see someone kiss on any television program. Today it is difficult to find any television program that does not either display explicit sexual scenes or at the least, include sexual references in conversation or jokes. There is no inhibition exhibited by those famous faces on screen or in magazine. They flaunt themselves as if flaunting will insure their perpetual youth and beauty. There is no shame. Each does his own thing, and indeed, believes he is beholden to nobody and certainly not to God.

My siblings and I have managed to keep up with the technical changes. In fact I'm more computer-literate than some of my nieces and nephews. No, it is not the new technology that has us stymied. It is the cultural change that astounds my generation. (And what astounds me further is that I am finding more and more adults thirty years younger than I who are themselves stunned at the change in this country's morality.)

We see clearly that shift in our culture. And we are stunned. And all of us, every last one of us, sense that this change cannot and will not be undone. It saddens us for we see a weaker America because of that change.

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