Threshing The Wheat From The Chaff

At the time of this writing, the Old Year of 1970 is about ready
to hobble out of our lives on his wobbly walking pins – it being
the 31st of December, the final gasp, so to say, of a year fraught
with much unpleasant news and ominous forebodings. But, when this
column will reach the homes of its readers, the world will be
looking hopefully toward the season of Easter – the one historic
event that is capable of lifting humanity from its morass of gloom
and despair.

It oftens makes it difficult to know what to write about – the
blessed gift of a Savior given to the world, to teach mankind how
to live with his neighbor by the one consuming commandment of love,
which we are still celebrating in our hearts, or the forthcoming
occasion of His supreme sacrifice on a cross which became necessary
because we wouldn’t live as He taught us.

But all news was not bad, as the Old Man with the scythe limped
his way off the 1970 calendar in place of the cherub of ’71. In
a recent interview with Billy Graham on the TV Today Show,
moderator Hugh Downs asked his opinion of recent reports about a
great movement back to Christianity by many people, both young and
old.

Said Graham, in reply, ‘There is a real movement of return
to the true principles of the Christian faith – it is not the
Puritan form, but the hard-core, disciplined Christianity among
both the young and old, and I’ve especially noticed it on the
campuses where I’ve held services. There has been no rioting or
lack of discipline there.’

We have just returned from a sortie into the city of Dayton,
Ohio, to do some last-minute shopping for post-Christmas bargains
before the old year’s demise. And as we drove through the
parking ramp, we saw hundreds of out-of-state licenses on cars from
Indiana, Nebraska, Illinois, even as far away as Wisconsin and
Mississippi. Later, as we ate our lunch in Dayton’s largest
department store restaurant, we saw many young people wearing
badges denoting august occasion. These were not hippies, but
clean-shaven, neatly dressed young people – only a part of
thousands who had converged on the city to attend a Wesleyan
Christian Conference. The big Sheraton Hotel had even removed all
ash trays and other bric-a-brac, usually cluttering the hotel
corridors, in preparation to welcoming youth who no longer have to
depend on such things in the lives they are living.

Just this morning – the last day of 1970 – as I listened to the
Today Show on TV, I was heartened to observe two officials of a
World Evangelism Movement being interviewed in New York. One was a
Negro, the other a white man, and both were in complete accord as
they explained the purpose and mission of the convention to the
interviewer.

The purpose of the convention was to work out new ways of taking
Christianity to other nations throughout the world. Their
dominating theme was the spreading of the Good News by the
preachings and teachings of Jesus Christ as Savior. There were no
ugly words exchanged as often has been in mixed panels, merely for
one side to gain an advantage over another. For all were in
complete accord, having come together for the sole purpose of
uniting their forces in the name of Divine Love.

What refreshing news this all is for us to hear, just at the
close of a year which has been fraught with so much in the way of
gloomy and unpleasant happenings. It strikes a new hope for the
forthcoming year, even before it has arrived. It proves that people
are getting fed up with just having their ways. The public is
getting tired of rampant evil, running loose and un-chained on
campuses, on theatre screens, in questionable literature, and even
publicly on the streets.

In visiting a large book store in a Dayton Mall, the lady clerk
who waited on us even gave encouraging insight.

‘A man came in recently and asked me where we kept our
‘dirty books’,’ she said. ‘I answered that the only
dirty books we had were on the subject of ecology.’

‘You know what I mean by dirty books,’ the customer
replied. ‘If you don’t have any, what’s this world
coming to, anyway?’

‘Well, we tried the dirty books, but finally gave them up
because they simply didn’t sell,’ was her reply to him.

‘I believe the world is getting better. People are getting
tired of such stuff,’ she said to us.

In a recent chat with a friend of ours – a man who is a good
Christian -I said, ‘By the way, you seem to be advertising
another kind of movie now and then in your theatre.’

He hung his head and then explained. ‘I don’t want to
show such movies,’ he said very gloomily. ‘But the
producers force them onto me, and I’m running a theatre for a
chain and have to take their orders.’

His wife then chimed in, saying, ‘And the latest trade
journals put out by the movie industry are now telling us that
things will have to change from the sex angles – because they are
no longer selling like they thought they would.’

At first the public thought it wanted everything, without any
hold-backs or restrictions. Now, since they’ve been seeing
everything, and finding out how nauseous it is – they are becoming
quite bored and unhappy with it all.

We see so many young people walking around with long and unkempt
hair -especially the males. Last summer when I was eating a
sandwich down at Wright State University campus, the young student
who was cleaning off the cafeteria tables had a long beard almost
like Solomon’s – and when he’d bend down to wipe the table
top, that beard almost swept the table itself. At first it brought
a sickening sensation to me, and I resolved that if I was manager
of that restaurant the first thing I’d do would be to either
fire that long-bearded student or force him to shave. Later I got
into a conversation with the student, and, upon kidding him about
his beard, I found him to be a most pleasant young fellow, and he
laughed in a very humorous manner about it all. He was not as bad
as I had thought, but a real good fellow who explained that he was
majoring in elementary education.

Another male student we saw was dressed in horribly dirty and
baggy overalls tied around his middle with an old rope. His huge,
unkempt beard enveloped his entire head, and the tiny old-fashioned
spectacles he was wearing looked more like Peter Tumbledown, the
old farmer in the cartoon strip, than a modern university student.
In fact he was actually frightening to look at. His appearance was
the trampy kind that usually marked the recluse from society – the
type that people shied away from in fear for their own safety. Yet
if we had talked to him, we no doubt would have changed our views
and discovered a young fellow who was interested in getting an
education. Although he could still get that education without all
the excess head foliage and seedy-looking overalls.

Long hair on young men has in fact become a symbol of defiance –
defiance to the ways, often the failures of their elders in running
this old world. I can remember that when my older brother got out
into the world and tried to study classical music for a career, he
walked around with a mustache and very long hair. It was an act of
defiance against the world for bringing on the great depression
that was making a living hard and difficult then. But it also
represented his love for the great music masters whose lives he had
been reading about and who were his youthful idols.

But I also can remember that, when I graduated from high school,
there was a bulletin posted in the classroom library stating that
‘The high school graduate was only worth $9.12 in a day’s
wages, whereas a college graduate would be worth $18.00 and some
cents.’ There was no mention about a person’s character
being worth a few cents, or his ideals counting for a thing. I
often felt, in my budding youth, that virtues were to be held high,
also. And I, too, resented such cheap values being placed on the
higher human qualities. Many of our young people are not totally
wrong in pointing the finger of guilt and hypocrisy to their elders
who still are making a mess of this old world. After all, they, the
older ones, are printing the pornography, and promoting the sex
films with which they entice the young, merely for the profits they
can reap. Is it any wonder that youth is pointing the finger of
guilt to those in command?

We were heartened recently by a young group of musicians and
actors who came to our school to give a performance. At first we
thought they appeared to be some far-out set. But in our
conversation with them, we found them to be a very dedicated group
of young Christians.

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