Fundies and Hippies: Parallel Rebels

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My grandmother Giggy wasn’t a hippie. She was born too early for Free Love and was a twice married mother of four by the time of Woodstock. She carried a mild disdain for hippies, much like the average paid Boomer screed hating on Millennials. She thought they were young and foolish, idealistic and impractical.

And yet, in a thousand little ways, the Christian lifestyle she proposed mirrored the values and practices of dedicated hippies. Giggy preached the superiority of home birth and abstention from vaccines. She taught her followers not to trust doctors. She promoted a model of family independence that included a vegetable garden, homemade simple clothes, and meals cooked from scratch.

As I’ve written before, Giggy did not practice what she preached, with the exception of eschewing medical care. She had five hospital births (including four c-sections) and all her daughters were vaccinated before she became a faith healer. She only grew annual flowers in her garden, mostly Impatience. Our veggies came from the store, paid for out of my mom’s meager TA salary, and our clothes were church handmedowns

The political far right and far left wrap around society in two different directions, yet the meet at their farthest ends. Strong distrust of government, independence leaning toward isolation, natural remedies in lieu of medicine, and a preference for homeschooling and home birth are hallmarks of both the left and the right, provided they are far enough from center. Fundies and hippies share many lifestyle practices, yet virtually no core values.

My Giggy is the reason I can see connection between the conservative male anti-government fools who took over a bird sanctuary and the liberal female anti-hospital “birth warriors”. She was both. She was anti-government and anti-hospital and anti mainstream religion, because she resented male run institutions but was not a feminist. She still ended up, somewhat accidentally, in some feminist roles and places.

She was a twice divorced female preacher who taught that a woman’s place was married, barefoot, and pregnant. She was a hypocrite in the Sarah Palin model, although she told me in 2008 that she hated Palin for working while she had young children (which of course Giggy did too). For a long while I thought this connection between far left and far right was just a product of her hypocrisy.

Now I suspect that the two extremes have much in common. They are dissatisfied with the status quo. They feel the broader culture doesn’t represent them. Changes in modern life threaten them. They believe things were better in a simpler past. The far left and far right may not agree on how or why the world is broken, but that it is broken is no question. I’m not yet sure what to do with this insight, but I thought it worth mentioning all the same.

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4 thoughts on “Fundies and Hippies: Parallel Rebels

  1. This has a lot to do with the bizarre way a certain subset of the American electorate considers Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump their two preferred candidates.

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  2. Some more good insights Angie. Some very interesting points. Two people might both be dissatisfied with the “mainstream” and not be quite sure why. They might conclude differently. It’s quite hopeful, to see that some people are quite the same at their roots. I do think that occasionally people of the “extreme right and left” have the ability to sympathize with each other and understand how the other became that way.

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      1. Actually I reacted to my years in Christianity in a hippieish fashion too, I think because I wanted to challenge everything traditional. Everything that I felt I was doing just because I’d been told that that’s what people were supposed to do. Another interesting thing I noted later was that when I joined Christianity I felt I was getting away from an oppressive mainstream, but eventually I had to conclude that Christianity was in many ways PART of the mainstream(or “the world” in Christian terms) despite their disagreements with each other. I had to ask myself recently if, of the “oppressive mainstream”, Christianity was the part that oppressed me more. More responsible for my feelings of exclusion. These days I like to read about religions, especially Judaism and Christianity, partly because I feel that the better I understand them, the less likely I am to be caught up in all the emotion surrounding them.

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