Across the bar of an American tavern leaned a young man still in his late teens. His hair flopped loosely over his ears in a disorderly tangled mop, and his rumpled sport shirt and soiled slacks hung carelessly on his frame as he toyed with a glass of beer and gazed vacantly into the mirror before him. One foot kept time with the monotonous rhythm of the juke box that was blaring out the latest popular hit. He was one of those whom Time magazine defined as “oddballs who celebrate booze, dope, sex, and despair, and who go by the name of ‘beatniks’.”

These self-conscious victims of fear and futility may be found anywhere among the younger set today. Two world wars, bringing destruction, taxation, and compulsory military service in their wake, have shattered the hopes of many for a peaceful and orderly life ending in some measure of personal success. As one young fellow put it, “Life is only a pile of rubbish. What have we to look forward to? Somebody is going to start a war, and we go into the army. Then an atomic bomb will drop, and it will be all over.” The inevitable result of such thinking is to while away the intervening hours as pleasantly as possible; to spend all your money now because it may be worthless tomorrow; to accept futility as your goal; and to stop the arduous process of thinking or believing because it will accomplish nothing anyway.

Such an attitude is spiritual suicide. To look upon life as utterly meaningless is equivalent to repudiating God and resigning oneself to an everlasting emptiness. Culture, morality, and faith alike perish in the blackness of this chaos.

Although the consciousness that the world is too much for us may be more acute today than ever before, it is by no means new. Jesus encountered ...

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