Communes sprang up where everyone shared everything, and returned to the simple life. We tilled the soil and planted crops, scraping at the dirt and scratching out a living. We built simple houses and started families with varying degrees of propriety. The quiet life, the simple life, the life of love and peace was our goal.
Is there such a place where we can find all that our hearts long for — to live together in peace? If this place has been lost, can it ever be found again? If the true Holy Spirit of the One who created us could be communicated to us today, we could experience true life, true community. Yet since no one has “found it” in Christianity, where should we turn? Many have boasted for a while that they “found it” in their little utopias — love and acceptance. They say, “We share everything. I matter to people, not for what I’ve got, but for who I am. I’m wanted, needed, appreciated and never have been so happy.” Then a few days later they die of an overdose or get burned out trying to live together and instead become cynical, bitter, and hopelessly divided.
We fried our brains, wrecked our emotions, and did irreparable damage to our consciences trying to come together because the Christian Church did not provide the life of love and unity we needed. Since Christianity failed, drugs, sex, and rock & roll were the only hope we had.
“If by being Christians we must live as Christians live, then we will not be Christians at all,” we said. But if we could have the Spirit of their Christ with his promises and the life of the people that was recorded to have lived in the first beginnings, then we would accept him.
All of those first disciples who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that any of his belongings were his own, but all things were common property to them. There was not a needy person among them because all who were owners of land or houses would sell them (unless they were needed by the community for living space or farming) and bring the proceeds from the sales, and give it to the apostles so that they could distribute it to each individual or household, as anyone had need. They were continually devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles, to fellowship with each other, and daily they ate their meals together always full of joy and celebration. The result was that the disciples’ lives affected all those around them to the point that every day new people were believing, giving up their lives to Yahshua, and being rescued from the abnormal society of their day.1
But since Christianity, which boasts of being the church of the living God, has proven that they have not obtained this life, we cannot accept their Jesus with his empty promises. Neither can we be sure he came in the flesh without seeing unity in his followers. How can we even know Acts 2 and 4 is not a myth? We read somewhere one time in the New Testament that Christ’s followers would be one, and that the world would believe that the Son did actually come, if this unity really happened.2 But since it hasn’t, that is the reason we chose Haight-Ashbury over our parents’ miserable Christian lives, full of selfishness and greed. They could not get along with anyone, except a few in their own denomination, much less those who were of another brand. And many of our own parents were deacons, Sunday school teachers, and on the board of directors!
So what about the Christ of Christianity? Should we scoff in his face since he couldn’t save us like the preacher said? If we had walked down the aisle at a Billy Graham Crusade, would we have ended up like all the rest, without a hint of the oneness with others that was promised to all who would follow him?3 If we did give our lives to him, a myth, what then?
So now, decades later, we’re looking for another Movement to come along. We’ve tried everything and we’ve gone everywhere. We’re still looking for that precious so-called elusive dream called “Brotherhood” — that strange, indefinable something that makes men of all conceivable differences become one in love. What a noble search! What a thrilling objective and a wholesale condemnation of a materialistic, selfish Jesus! And what a slap in the face for all of Christianity today — every pastor, every elder, evangelist and healer, deacon and Sunday school teacher, and whoever else talks about love and doesn’t deliver the goods! So don’t tell us of your Jesus who died on a cross to save sinners unless you can show us who he has saved lately that actually lives by his teachings! Don’t talk of a true brotherhood found in Christ unless you can show us where we can find it. Otherwise it’s just a fantastic, unreal myth. So since the life Christianity promises is just a myth, we must go on until we find our dream come true.
Or maybe there is a way we can go back in time to a place that we once read about in an ancient manuscript, the place where Acts 2 and 4 were being practiced. But since that is impossible, what can we do? What if we never find that life we read about? Who will judge us guilty enough for the sea of fire if we don’t accept the Christ of Christianity? Will not the whole of Christianity go there before us? Will we not get to heaven before them?
Yes, utopia means no place, but so does a Jesus and a church today called Christianity. It is no place, but preached as a utopia of sweet fellowship and joy, one with another. It promises much, but delivers nothing. Sir Thomas More’s island is much more promising than Christianity’s many independent islands.
That’s why Haight-Ashbury was a valid alternative to Christianity back in the '60s. But both have been destroyed by greed and selfishness, and divided beyond redemption. Where have all the flowers gone? Have they not gone to the funeral of Christianity today? Are they not right up there on the altar under the podium where the biggest propaganda of false promises ever heard is being proclaimed today? They gave us more talk and more lies than communism or any politician we’ve every heard. They lied to us all our lives. They left us without hope. It was a different gospel, another Jesus, a different spirit.4 That’s why we left and headed for San Francisco, or to the hills, or Woodstock. That’s why we went wherever someone would offer us a little hope, a little kindness, a little love, where we could find clothing and shelter and daily food; where we would not be told, “go your way and be warm and well fed;” where we could find people who could give us what we needed.5 We were really looking for hope, not dope, or myths, or fantasies. That’s why we headed east into mysticism, I Ching, and Zen. That’s why we turned to Tarot cards, and to following the Beatles, especially when they took off to India. There they sat at the feet of their favorite guru, clad in full-length white robes, long-haired and garlanded, as far from Christianity today as possible. Jane Fonda, the darling of the activists, even made her pilgrimage. Mia Farrow, after her divorce from Franky, headed east too. It was the in thing.
But it ended like everything else — in disappointment; and worst of all, compromise. We just weren’t stoned enough. Even Stephen couldn’t get us stoned enough to stick together down on The Farm in Tennessee. Some say it was not important that the dream of the Movement didn’t come true. They say that the experience of trying was all that mattered because it taught us what we never knew before. But we all know that’s a cop out. If that hope and that dream of human beings from every race, the strong and the weak, the rich and the poor, the educated and the illiterate, living together in true unity, loving one another and constantly striving for justice in their midst is not possible, then everything we say and everything we do is meaningless. In reality, we haven’t learned anything of value. All of our tripping, protesting, meditating, and getting back to the land led us nowhere.