The attitude of mocking


Kurt was cool.  He said his dad would let us dig holes at his house so I and other neighborhood boys started hanging out with him.  Kurt was a little older than me and so I looked up to him just like an older brother. He was a major influence in my life for the next ten years, or until at least 1974 when I went away to college.

The influence of friends

My dad didn’t like Kurt at all.  Looking back now I can’t say that I blame him but I didn’t understand it at the time.  Kurt had long hair and he looked sideways at you because he had one bad eye.  He seemed to have a general disrespect for authority figures in society.  That showed openly in the way he interacted with other people.

Kurt was a rebel from the word go.  He wore a denim jacket with “The Mighty Quinn” embroidered on the back.  I had no idea what that meant.  I think it may have had something to do with the underground drug culture that had spilled down from the Bay area to Southern California in the late sixties and early seventies.

Comparing parents

Kurt’s parents seemed very easy-going and laid-back.  Mine were very strict and were often uptight, or at least I thought my mother was.  Kurt’s mom worked at a bank and my mother taught at a local elementary school.  I didn’t interact much with Kurt’s dad but he seemed very permissive and gave Kurt a lot of things.

I don’t know why kids compare parenting styles but I guess we all do.  We usually don’t realize how much our parents do for us until we get older.  For the longest time I wanted my parents to be more like Kurt’s.  They gave him cool stuff and he would share it with us.  Unfortunately, it just wasn’t stuff that my parents liked.

Introduction to vices

For example, one day a bunch of us were hanging out behind the local department store.  There was a little spot between the school and the store where they kept the trash bins.  We used to sit on the high brick wall around it from which we had a good view of all the kids in the schoolyard.  It was our cool place to sit and talk.

One day Kurt popped out a hard pack of Marlboro cigarettes and lit one up.  We all watched in amazement.  He did it so nonchalantly like he had done it many times.  OK, we were all impressed, including me.  Remember, I looked up to Kurt like an older brother.  I wanted to be just like him.  What he did, I did.  That was the rule.

The cultural influence

I can’t tell you how many times my parents banned me from hanging with Kurt.  Apparently, every time I got sassy with my folks it was after I had been with him.  I didn’t get the connection then, but it was very obvious to them.  Without doing anything, Kurt was blamed for a lot of my teenage rebelliousness growing up.

You see, Kurt was a product of the sixties.  He was just doing that which came naturally as a result of growing up in a society that promoted cultural dissent.  We were on the tail-end of the Hippie movement.  Hippies criticized the middle-class values that my parents exemplified and rejected established institutions we upheld.

The Hippie movement

Hippies embraced Eastern religions, championed sexual liberation and promoted the use of psychedelic drugs and psychedelic rock.  They opposed nuclear weapons and war, and even nuclear power in general.  They opposed political and social orthodoxy and rejected doctrinal ideology while seeking new meaning and value.

They favored peace, love, and personal freedom, perceiving the dominant culture as a corrupt, monolithic entity that exercised undue power over their lives.  For hippies, it was “whatever” and “anything goes” as long as you don’t hurt anybody else.  My friend Kurt epitomized this culture and I absorbed it from his influence.

Sex, drugs and Rock ‘n Roll

Kurt introduced me to music that I had never heard before.  I was so sheltered that I didn’t even have a TV or radio in my home growing up.  Now I was listening to groups like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Electric Light Orchestra, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Pink Floyd and Yes.

You can argue that these bands made some great music and I won’t disagree.  But what went along with that music was the promotion of illicit sex and drugs.  I think you can also call it the great American party scene.  It was prevalent when I was in high school and it still is today, but most powerfully expressed in the rock concert.

Great and spacious building

If there is anything that helps me visualize the great and spacious building as it was described by Nephi in the vision shown him by the angel, it is the rock concert.  Of course, not all bands or songs at a rock concert fall into this category.  But from my experience, the large crowds and abundant drug use constitutes vain imaginations.

In my case, I discovered it firsthand on April 6, 1974, the date of the California Jam and the last rock concert I ever attended.  If you think about the date, you would be right in pointing out that it was the Saturday that we sustained President Kimball as the Lord’s prophet.  Yes, I should have been somewhere else that day.

A lost generation

As I wandered around the festival that day I was overwhelmed with the number of young people that I saw wasted on drugs and so totally out of it.  I had an awakening there and slowly came to realize that I no longer wanted to be a part of this great and spacious building.  My eyes were being opened and it was not a pleasant sight.

I saw so many young people burned out and losing their ability to focus because of the drugs.  So many lost their virtue and with it their desire to create things that are good or lasting.  They went on to be has-beens and dropouts.  Some made it into mainstream society as they got older but the glory days of their youth were gone.

Turning away from the world

The ideals and idealism of the hippie movement had never been realized and never would be.  It was all a big lie, perpetuated by the biggest liar of them all.  That was the feeling I had as I left this group and entered into the world of living the gospel and preparing for my mission, temple marriage and a life of service in the church.

My repentance was not easy.  I had only been away from the church for less than a year but it felt like forever.  I had to work for years to overcome the effects of that world.  I still bear some of those scars today.  Some of the music from those days brings back painful memories that I don’t want to relive.  I had been badly burned.

Deception of the adversary

In the great and spacious building are found many people who are in the attitude of mocking those who have partaken of the fruit.  I’m sure you have seen this attitude firsthand.  I know I have.  When I left that building and found my way back to the iron rod, the attitude of mocking became more visible and much easier to discern.

While some are very direct in their mocking, labeling believers in God and Christ as fools or worse, it has been my experience that most are just going along with the crowd.  The entire hippie cultural movement of the late sixties and early seventies was nothing more than another attempt by the adversary to deceive God’s children.

Summary and conclusion

I know this isn’t a particularly uplifting or inspiring essay but I’ve wanted to write it for a long time.  I was greatly influenced by the American pop cultural of the late sixties and especially the early seventies, when I was in high school.  The hippie movement simply did not deliver the promised enlightenment that so many sought.

Unfortunately, the influence of those days has been integrated into our culture and society.  It is hard to be in the world and yet not of it when so much of our world has been corrupted by the false values of the hippie movement.  The attitude of mocking followers of God is just one of the more blatant results of that movement.

8 Responses

  1. Tim, you and I grew up in the same Southern California environment in the sixties. I still love much of the rock n’ roll from that time period. Fortunately, I never got into the drugs or alcohol. Thank goodness we were preserved, somehow. It was quite a time.

    I hope Carol is doing well.

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing a part of your personal life. Your example of learning from the past was inspiring to me. I hope all is well. You and your wife are in my prayers brother Malone!

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  3. “They opposed nuclear weapons and war, and even nuclear power in general. They opposed political and social orthodoxy and rejected doctrinal ideology while seeking new meaning and value.

    They favored peace, love, and personal freedom, perceiving the dominant culture as a corrupt, monolithic entity that exercised undue power over their lives. For hippies, it was “whatever” and “anything goes” as long as you don’t hurt anybody else.”

    That sounds really good to me…it’s hard to argue against that. Actually, that sort of epitomizes another radical, socially defiant, peace-loving, rebel I’ve heard of…Jesus Christ. It’s not that I (or Jesus) believe people SHOULD do whatever they want, as long as they don’t harm other people; I just believe people should BE ABLE TO DO what they want, if that’s what they CHOOSE to do (free agency, free choice, personal accountability, responsibility, etc.). Remember, it was the devil that wanted to limit people’s ability to make unwise, unrighteous decisions.

    That being said, maybe the people in the great and spacious building aren’t necessarily mocking “righteous people” because they choose to live a certain way; maybe they are mocking “righteous people” because “righteous people” want to violently force their beliefs on other people. They mock because they feel threatened. They feel threatened because of real, past, personal experience.

    You would be hard-pressed to find someone, even someone from the great and spacious building, who would want to mock and scorn people who quietly live righteous lives, without trying to impose their beliefs on other people.

    I’m glad you’ve finally posted. I’ve missed your blog. How’s your wife? I hope her health is improving.

    –Crusty

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  4. Oh man! Are you saying that Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin are the reason I turned out the way I am? That goes a long way in explaining my “charming” nature….

    One thing you missed is that the 60s drug culture, with all of its hope for a future and better living through chemistry, turned into the 70s drug culture. The 70s had all of the shame of drug abuse with despair and cynicism attached.

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  5. I had the same kind of childhood and influences, only without your parents’ strictures. The result was naturally that the party scene was very much a part of my life.

    Then I got religion. I sobered up, and lost my friends, but I have made lots of new ones. The best thing that ever happened to me.

    But I still like the music. All of the bands you listed and some more. By the 1990s the music was history. It was all about how you looked on MTV. Bummer.

    –velska

    P.S. I watched a concert some time ago. It was Carlos Santana & band in Fillmore Hall in SF, CA. Between the 11 guys they sported 1 visible piercing and zero visible tattoos. So not everyone follows the stereotype. Carlos has not been celebrating drugs for 45 years, he’s been celebrating good music.

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  6. Great essay…thanks for sharing. As far as Kurt goes…have you ever thought how he saw you? Or your parents? As a teen he may not have talked about it, but as he got older I would bet he remembered their example.

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  7. Hi Joe, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I have thought about Kurt several times over the years. He was a good friend in many ways. There must have been something he got out of our friendship. I don’t think he just tolerated me. He was a couple of years older so maybe he saw me as a younger brother of sorts.

    You’re right that we talked very little about my parents or even his. I was sad to learn that his parents divorced a few years after I stopped hanging with him. I had not really thought about how he saw my family or my parents. Perhaps he saw how much my dad wanted me to have good influences in my life. Did his dad care?

    As the father of a grown son I still am very concerned about my son’s friends and their powerful influence upon him. I’m sure I got that loving concern from my dad. Feeling acceptance from a parent, especially from a father for a son, can be a real driving and motivating dynamic in our lives. After all, most boys want dad’s approval.

    In fact, shouldn’t our relationship with our Heavenly Father be the most powerful and motivating force in our lives? What great opportunity we have as mortal fathers to learn to be like a heavenly parent. I know my relationship with my parents changed dramatically after I got out of the brain-dead, hormone, angst-filled teenage years.

    Yes, my dad came looking for me many times when I was out too late. He always knew where to find me. It annoyed me at the time but I’ll bet you’re right that his coming to look for me had an influence on my friend Kurt. I wonder if his dad cared where he was and what he was doing. Thanks for helping me look at it differently.

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  8. [...] 24. 2012 the movie 25. Revelation and emotional response 26. Add your profile to Mormon.org 27. The attitude of mocking 28. Objections to the Book of Abraham 29. A letter to a reader – burning of the bosom 30. The [...]

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