by Craig Cline
Book Review of Hail Holy Light – A Journey through the Great Awakening of the Sixties by Ken McCormack.
The title of the book is true to the authorâ€™s intent:Â to explore both the historical and the psychological-social-spiritual events that took place in the 1960s. He makes this exploration personal; a memoir of his own journey and â€œhealingâ€ — from his old self to his new one.
Among his life experiences, Mr. McCormack attended the University of California at Berkeley as a Woodrow Wilson fellow.Â He describes himself as â€œpolitically activeâ€ in the civil rights and peace movements of the 1960s.Â More recently, he has served as an associate editor of The PeaceWorker and as a Board member of Oregon PeaceWorks.
Two Cultural Icons
The book begins with McCormackâ€™s observation that two cultural icons, President John F. Kennedy and pacifist Aldous Huxley, both died on the same date, November 22, 1963.Â Thus, for him at least, began the 1960s — a period of â€œextraordinary rebellion and citizen involvement.â€
He makes any number of insightful and thought-provoking statements.Â Among them are these:
â€œSurely, a deep meaning of the Camelot myth is that no matter what the ballot decides, the sword and the bullet rule the world.â€
â€œThus, the greatest evil is done in the name of the greatest Good.â€
â€œNonviolence does not mean doing nothing.Â It means making the enormous effort required to overcome evil with good.â€
â€œIn fact, our history seems to be a history of constant war.â€
â€œUltimately, the Movement never recovered from its slide into the darkside of violence.â€
Are We as “Awake” Today?
Readers who are spiritually inclined may well find favor with McCormackâ€™s view as a Christian:Â â€œOne thing is clear:Â Jesus cannot support war, military buildup, revenge, capital punishment, increases in incarceration, enrichment of the rich and impoverishment of the poor, hatred of Muslims or homosexuals or anyone else, nor any cruel and hateful behavior.â€
The bookâ€™s title was the product of a quote by the renowned poet John Milton.Â Like Milton, Ken McCormack is a deep thinker, and he presents an engaging perspective on the tumultuous times of the 60s.
Incredibly, a full half-century has since passed, and I myself wonder if we the people are still as â€œawakeâ€ today as many of us were back then.Â Truth be told, I donâ€™t think so.Â Do you?Â Î¦
Craig Cline is a member of Oregon PeaceWorks and supports its mission to help create a world where peace and justice reign.