For the ‘c’atholic Left, the Church should be perpetual Woodstock

As I write, I am watching my recording of the public TV series American Experience – “Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation“.


A half a million kids descend on a field in NY for to hear music of some of the most famous bands of the day.  The documentary is more of a panegyric than anything, breathless in its fulsome awe-filled nostalgia.  Oh the utopian joy. “Oh this must be heaven!”

One especially telling moment in the show is when they described that all the food in the booths had run out and these young people were all getting hungry.  The word got out into the neighboring countryside. The people of that quite conservative region started contributing food. The party went on.   The commentators in the documentary went on and on about how, “This was like, man, how things outta be”, “all these people came and it, you know, just worked”, “it was like an alternative city”, “it was all about intelligence and cooperation”, “it was like sharing the loaves and fishes”.

The problem is that they were eating other people’s food.  They were eating food that conservative people sent because they had kids their age and they would have hoped that someone would feed their kids.  They believed in God, who said “feed the hungry”.

The recipients were, in effect, parasites. Problems developed when they ran out of everyone else’s means, but – hey! – it was groovy.  Love.  Peace, man.  Have some more grass. Someone else will take care of us. Where’s it going to come from? Uhhhh… I dunno.

What did Margaret Thatcher say about Socialism?

Woodstock is the modernist ecclesiological locus for a whole swath of the Church today.  Watch for this to manifest in the lefty logorhea leading up to the Amazonian Synod.

For them, the Church should be perpetual Woodstock.

This show brings home the mentality of the US catholic Left.   It explains “Susan of the Parish Council”.  It explains the Fishwrap.

Do you all remember my repeated descriptions of libs of a certain age? They’re worldview was crystallized in the halycon days of revolt against authority, and in these USA, the anti-war movement, Vietnam protests, civil rights demonstrations, pot and acid, anti-authority  rebellion, all tied into the “spirit” of Vatican II. This slurry of forces coalesced into an iconic moment that, for them, is as indelible as baptism.

They’ve been trying to relight it and pass it down, like a joint, ever since.

That’s why these types have a Pavlovian response to the sight of a biretta or the sound of Latin.

The switch in their brain blows and the fog and static begin.

Susan from the parish Council channels her inner Joplin and the whining manipulation of the pastor and angry protests to the chancery commence.

Some of you younger readers might not have ever seen this stuff.  Some of you older readers may have forgotten.

Suggest Gregorian chant, and this is what is triggered in their brains.

The younger libs of our own time are reinventing this parasitical gerbil wheel.

If you have a chance to watch this documentary, take the time. It will put many things going on today into perspective.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Fr. Hamilton says:

    Holy cow… what a phrase…you deserve your own gold star award for this: “This slurry of forces coalesced into an iconic moment that, for them, is as indelible as baptism.

    They’ve been trying to relight it and pass it down, like a joint, ever since.”

  2. For years, I have questioned what there is to celebrate about Woodstock. When you look at pictures or films of it, everybody is dirty, scuzzy, naked, wasted, and wallowing in mud. Four decades later, the Occupy Wall Street mob carried on the tradition, with its overrunning of public places, turning parks into garbage dumps, and open-air elimination. The deliberate cultivation of filth seems to be a hallmark of radicals. It is part of the glorification of chaos, which they think constitutes liberty, but which is actually a foretaste of hell.

    They’ve been trying to relight it and pass it down, like a joint, ever since.

    I’m already looking for opportunities to use this.

  3. TonyO says:

    I was a kid in upstate NY when Woodstock happened, about 1.5 hours drive from the event. I remember – a little less clearly now than then – the word going around outside of the event. It was a human disaster in some ways, and a worse human disaster avoided only by the skin of their teeth in other ways. The woods were full of human excrement – there was simply no place for people to go: the porta-potties were full by the end of the first day. There wasn’t enough food, and although local townspeople chipped in with their own food (for free) it STILL wasn’t enough. The party-goers jammed the freeway, and when they couldn’t get through they just abandoned their cars – wrecking travel for everyone else for the entire period, including emergency vehicles. There were mounds and mounds of trash just left there, it took weeks to clear it all. People just helped themselves to back yards (and front yards) for places to sit or sleep or whatever wasn’t nailed down that looked helpful for the stay. In spite of over a thousand injuries (mostly to feet of people walking barefoot), only 2 people died, but it could easily have been a 100 times that if just one razor-thin margin of error had gone a different way (such as, if the local townspeople had not donated tons of food). Nobody knows how many people came down ill with gastro problems from the conditions.

    And that’s just the physical problems. Do we need to mention the 3 days of drugs and sex? It was a moral disaster of gargantuan proportions.

  4. JonathanTX says:

    “They’ve been trying to relight it and pass it down, like a joint, ever since.”

    This is exactly correct, because they have a parallel traditio to go with their parallel magisterium.

    Though maybe perpendicular magisterium is better since it is at odds with the True Magisterium.

  5. Tooksam says:

    “One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘ Socialism ‘ and ‘ Communism ‘ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.”

    George Orwell

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  6. JonPatrick says:

    Interesting coincidence that Woodstock happened in August of 1969 and a couple of months later we had the introduction of the Novus Ordo Mass.

    I remember being between my Sophomore and Junior years of college and going back to school that fall it seems as though everything had gone crazy. A staid men only engineering school had thrown all the rules out the window; dorms that used to allow no women visitors now it was anything goes. Even in our AFROTC detachment I recall cadets singing antiwar songs at a dining-in as senior officers looked on in shock, some of those songs made famous at Woodstock “It’s one two three what are we fighting for? Don’t tell me I don’t give a damn. Next stop is Vietnam”.

    Of course we now know the foundations of this both in the Church as well as society had been laid decades before; it just all came to fruition at that time.

  7. Just Some Guy says:

    Trying to think of ways to inoculate my 8 and 11 year olds against the demonic dangers of leftism. If this documentary is too graphic, I wonder what other material I can use. Doing my best to raise them with faith and decency.

  8. Laurelmarycecilia says:

    Some look with nostalgia at the 50s. If the 50s were so great, and if the parents so wonderful, and if the culture so ‘christian’ how in the bloody (origin” by Our Lady) world did it result in the 60s hellhole? These malformed ‘hippies’ were formed in the 50s.

  9. OrdinaryCatholic says:

    I once had an argument with my now deceased father-in-law about who was to blame for the whole 60’s debacle. I was in my teens during the sixties and my father in law blamed the kids of the time for the social rebellions that were happening.

    I asked him whose generation was running the government at the time. I asked whose generation was teaching the kids at the time. I asked him whose generation were the professors in college at the time. I asked him whose generation were the parents at the time. I asked him whose generation were the journalists at the time who HATED Nixon and his war and demoralizing our nation every night on the news. My father in law did not have much to say at the time.

    I told him that his generation could have prevented most of what happened in the sixties since they were the prevailing authority at the time, not the kids. They could have stopped the kids from demonstrating on campus. They could have fired professors who sided with the kids of the time to reject institutions such as the military, church, education and so forth. The Timothy Learys, Jane Fondas, Stokely Carmichaels, Abbie Hoffmans, Angela Davis et al could have been stopped then and there, but it never happened. The adults wanted to appear cool to the kids. I remember how ridiculous it sounded at the time hearing my teacher saying “Groovy man..” Sure, there was enough blame to go around but children do not usually run the show unless allowed and helped along by parents.

    I didn’t go to Woodstock. Why? My Catholic parents did not allow me. I’ve seen the Woodstock movie they made a while back and I remember thinking how sad I felt seeing all those kids on that farm oblivious to the world and thinking they were right in everything. Those kids are the adults now. They run the show again and look where it has led us.

  10. teomatteo says:

    ” … i saw satan laughing with delight the Day the Music Died.” D. McLean, 1971

  11. Bob B. says:

    It’s unfortunate that PBS often expresses the distorted view of things in our country. Woodstock defining a generation is but one of several slanted look back. Another example was Burns’ and Novick’s Vietnam War which continued to promote the now usual biased version of what Americans who served in Vietnam did (as my father and I both did).
    Both “documentaries” end up condemning an entire generation for succeeding generations to see – “tell a lie often enough…” A travesty done that others will be told is the truth.

  12. tho says:

    The mindset for Woodstock was created by the draft dodgers who thought they were too precious to be drafted. JFK and LBJ laid the groundwork for this kind of mindset by their frivolous approach to foreign affairs. The slogans “ask not what your country, etc”, were without substance. Then there was the terrible noise called music, written for people who think on a third grade level. I found a visceral disgust with the thinking of that whole group. To me it was Jonestown, and drink the Koolade. Of course I deplore the deaths at Jonestown, but the thinking was similar.

  13. John21 says:

    I’m not even old enough to remember what I was doing when 9/11 happened, so I’ll obviously have trouble remembering something that happened in 1969.

    I’ve grown up in the cultural mess that was started back then, though, and so *this* is all I remember. The young generation today hasn’t been defined by a Woodstock-like event. We’ve instead been defined by our compulsive and elaborate use of the Internet and social media, which has caused a lot of problems, but it’s also a reason for hope, I think.

    There’s a growing discontent with the way things are done in our culture among Catholics my age. I notice a trend towards the orthodox and the traditional, especially given what young Catholics turn to online. Case in point: the big Catholic Instagram and YouTube accounts that kids these days (and I) follow tend to be solidly orthodox and have an affinity for the traditional. This is a big deal because young people practically live on social media. We can’t be parted from our phones, but at least while we’re walking around with our eyes fixed on a screen, we’re getting exposed to the good stuff.

    I think this will pay off in the future. Plus, isn’t it funny that demographers are calling this next generation after the Millennials “Generation Z?”

  14. Liz2257 says:

    I was 11 years old in 1969 and as such, had no idea Woodstock even occurred. But I recall clearly the moon landing. Looking back on it, the small mid-Atlantic town where I grew up was relatively insulated from the prevailing liberal attitudes and the hippies of the day. As I joke sometimes, our little corner of the world didn’t get hippies until the mid-70s. It wasn’t until I was in college that I saw the movie made of the concert itself, and while I enjoyed it for the music, it didn’t make that big of an impression on me. Much later, I saw the movie on VH1, and my perspective was completely different: I still liked most of the music, but the parts in between of the individuals and crowds alternately made me laugh (the guy blathering off camera about “invisible forces” seeding the clouds so that it would rain – yeah, sure) and look upon the whole thing with disdain, when I saw the group of mostly women showing up at one of the resident’s houses asking to use their bathroom. And Reading TonyO’s comment above made me realize it was actually much worse than that. That attitude of expectation, that blithe belief that someone, anyone, will give me what I want or need right now has led us to practically every dilemma we face today.

  15. Sandy says:

    It has already been mentioned that the foundation for all of this rot was laid long before Woodstock happened. I take issue with those who say it was the fault of those who lived in the 50’s, again, because it started long before. I’ll never forget a classmate at my truly Catholic college, who took a summer school course at the local state college (in the 60’s). She was shocked, as we all were, to hear that her professor at the state college was a Communist, and he admitted it openly! All of this took more than 10 years to develop. (See the goals of Communism; most having been accomplished: in schools, courts, etc.) That’s just on “ism” we’re dealing with now.

  16. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    That Janice Joplin song was horrible. It’s like watching a drunk girl sing a song terribly without self awareness at a friend’s wedding. Kinda embarrassing to even watch, really.

    “That” event, Woodstock, where that song was bellowed out, defined a generation?

    Glad I was born later…that would be like saying one of Adam Sandler’s movie songs defined my generation. Gross.

  17. Semper Gumby says:

    That Janis Joplin song was…not good.

    According to the ol’ innernet, here’s the beginning:

    “Sitting down by my window
    Honey, looking out at the rain
    Sitting down by my window, looking out at the rain
    All around that I felt it
    All I can see was the rain
    Something grabbed a hold of me
    Feel to me, oh, like a ball and chain
    Hey, you know what I mean that’s exactly what it felt like
    But that’s way too heavy for you, you can’t hold them all”

    Well, her vocals, stage antics, and lyrics are…profoundly uninteresting.

    Here is something refreshing after that assault on the senses: 19th century French opera. This is the Flower Duet from “Lakme”, sung here in 2017 by Corlea Botha and Amira Willighagen.

    Lakme and her servant Malika are gathering flowers by the river. The Duet opens with this:

    Sous le dôme épais où le blanc jasmin
    A la rose s’assemble
    Sur la rive en fleurs riant au matin

    Under a dome of white jasmine
    With the roses entwined together
    On a river bank covered with flowers laughing in the morning

    Speaking of French lyrics, in 1996 the Algerian singer Khaled recorded “Aicha” (pronounced “Aisha”) in French. In this song, a man promises Aicha gold, pearls, and jewels. Aicha replies:

    “Keep your treasures,
    Me, I’m worth more than that.
    Bars are still bars even if made of gold…I want only love.”

    The original video of “Aicha” featured a French ballerina dancing on a stage. Here is a newer video (the song has been translated into numerous languages such as Arabic, Urdu, and Hebrew- there are also numerous videos).

    Note that the woman in this video is wearing fashionable clothing and walking through the streets of a North African town.

  18. NBW says:

    Wow, what an excellent post Fr. Z.!!!! Many of the comments are spot on as well.
    Too bad PBS can’t be as spot on with their “American Experience” program.

  19. Cincture says:

    I appreciated the comment on three days of (fill in the blank)

    Woodstock50, has wiped out of its original location in New York, to being wiped out of a desperate alternative Merriwether Post Pavilion in little Columbia, Maryland, but has located three hangers-on…

    The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, N.Y., has booked a series of Woodstock-era musicians for the weekend of Aug. 16-18: Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band (Fri.), Santana (Sat.) and John Fogerty (Sunday).

    Don’t let World Youth Day be co-opted! :)

  20. adriennep says:

    Woodstock “defined a generation”? Only in that fevered PBS brain. Everyone knows that Woodstock was the END of a generation. And it was an East coast thing. The death knell was Altamont, only months later in December 1969. Sorry, but everything good was happening on the West coast.

    If you want a great music documentary, watch Monterey Pop. That event defined the pop music/rock n roll era in June 16-18, 1967. And frankly, everything else was anticlimactic. Monterey Pop still had idealistic vision. My husband was there on Ravi Shankar Sunday. People still had their ears open then.

    And speaking of best-ever concerts: The Who Live at Berkeley Community Theatre on June 15, 1970, is legendary. And yes, my husband was there too. He even has the 2 original SF newspaper reviews inside his LP to confirm that. That’s why I love him so much…

    But check it out: The world watches breathlessly as we walk on moon July 20, 1969. The Tate murders by the Manson family was August 8-9, 1969. And then was Woodstock on August 15-18, 1969. That was some “cosmic” month in 1969! But wait–Elvis Presley joins that calvacade with his legendary live comeback concerts in Las Vegas that month, which defined it for performers to come. And yes, my husband was also there to witness it on his birthday August 11, 1969. The concert was unbelievable. Then he remembers coming out of the concert and the newspapers all had blasted the faces of the Manson murderers. You can’t make this stuff up.

  21. TonyO says:

    OrdinaryCatholic says:

    I asked him whose generation was running the government at the time. I asked whose generation was teaching the kids at the time. I asked him whose generation were the professors in college at the time. I asked him whose generation were the parents at the time. I asked him whose generation were the journalists at the time who HATED Nixon and his war and demoralizing our nation every night on the news. My father in law did not have much to say at the time.

    Ordinary, it is true that the preceding generation has the greater responsibility (and blame) for the nonsense of the 1960’s. But the teens and young adults of 1969 do also bear their share of the blame: they, not the mature adults wanted and willingly engaged in the practice of rebellion. However true it is that the people in charge should have reacted properly to that rebellion, it was still rebellion against authority. They knew it was rebellion; heck, they even celebrated AS rebellion. So, they are not free of moral responsibility themselves. (This goes to show that culpability is NOT a zero-sum game: if I help you commit a sin, and encourage you to do it, you as the person choosing the act are a sinner, AND I am a sinner by my assisting you. If 3 other people help, then 3 more people are also sinners.)

    The older half of the mature adults, those above 55 in the 1960’s, were mostly bewildered by the loss of the meaning of authority. Most of them, probably over 90%, were simply unaware of the infiltrators in their midst who were carefully sowing the seeds of rebellion, and had already been doing so for 20 or 30 years. In 1940 most young men didn’t go to college, so they didn’t know what the avant-garde professors were teaching, nor how the anti-authority principles of “freedom” (i.e. pure individual license) had already been set into the bones of academia by the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

    In the Church, there was a similar obliviousness to the rot already spreading under the radar of bishops over 60 (the majority of them). The ones at VII were somewhat culpable for going along with the progressive clique of bishops who urged revolution, but when they voted for reform they WERE NOT voting for the nonsense they got in the Novus Ordo, and mostly of them would have rejected the Novus Ordo had they been asked to vote on it. No, the older ones accepted it because it was pushed from Rome, from the Vatican, and (being trained in obedience to authority) they did not demur. Their mistake was that of omission: that they did not speak out against the little iceberg tips of illness that they could easily see, the little clumps of wrong-headedness visible above the flotsam where underneath was the rank heresy of Hans Kung and Edward Schillebeeckx. One might equally point the finger at those in the hierarchy who tolerated the foolishness of Karl Rahner, and the theological novelties / experimentation by Yves Congar and Henri de Lubac. But that occurred during the 40’s and 50’s as well as the 60’s, so it must be laid at the door of Pius XII and his generation of prelates, as well as those in VII who allowed a vocal minority to sway them to accept unnecessary ambiguity. One might point out that they had Pius X’s encyclical against modernism (Pascendi Domenici Gregis) and seemed not to have heeded it.

  22. veritas vincit says:

    Like Liz2257, I was about 11 in the summer of 1969, and I remember clearly the Apollo 11 moon landing but had no awareness of Woodstock, not until much later.

    But I can’t resist repeating what the late Senator John McCain, a Vietnam POW during Woodstock, said about it in a Presidential debate:

    “Now, my friends, I wasn’t there. I’m sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event. I was tied up at the time.”

  23. KateD says:

    Just some guy – Was it Saint John Bosco who had the dream about the precious gift that is a child’s innocence? And that as it is the queen of the virtues it is to be strictly guarded. Until our children are old enough to do it themselves it is the responsibility of parents to safeguard it for them. With that as the objective the way to accomplish it will become clear. Showing them images from Woodstock would seem to work to diminish innocence even if held up as an example of what not to do. Better to take them to daily mass or divine liturgy to positively present what they should do. IMHO

  24. KateD says:

    All that hippie stuff is a bunch of insincere hooie. Peace, love and ecstasy are best and most sincerely encountered in the church established by Jesus. The post Vatican I I innovations have missed the mark entirely. The guitar strumming is a clanging cymbal.

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