Integration: The Ultimate Creativity
And her answer is: integrate. Get together. Build relationships. She ends with this quote: "In this lies the possibility of beauty in human relationships, which in fact exceeds the beauty of anything else within the scope of our creativity."
Schaeffer wrote this book in the late 60s, publishing it in 1971. When she says integration, she means integration. But she seems irritated that the only type of integration the world is interested in is racial integration. There are so many other kinds of bringing-people-together-lovingly that need to be done!
Her biggest gripe, apparently, is how people divide themselves by age groups. I see this especially in the church, where you drop your baby off in the nursery, your children go to classes with other kids their ages, your husband goes to the men's class, and you traipse off to the ladies' class. Teens go to youth group. Ladies go on retreats. Kids do VBS. Old people go on day outings. The reasoning is that people will do better with people they understand ... people their own age.
And schools are of course constructed with this same notion.
And it's awful.
That's one of the many reasons I like homeschooling. As Schaeffer notes, the family is the first place where age integration occurs, and we should foster it and celebrate it! Amen!
The chapter begins with a discussion of heaven (or as I prefer to call it, the New Earth). This is described as a place of perfect integration of all people. No fussing, no fighting. Perfect acceptance. (Of course, it does help that nobody is a sinner!) Equal love and appreciation. Everyone is represented and valued. And I'll add my own view: that in spite of the uniformity that Schaeffer emphasizes, I believe we will retain our intense individualism and personalities there.
Joni Mitchell sang a song about Woodstock, that great hippie musical gathering of drug-induced euphoria in 1969. Two years before the publishing of Schaeffer's book.
Mitchell didn't get to attend the festival. She wrote a song about it instead, a haunting tune. Here are a few lyrics:
I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, "Where are you going?"
And this he told me...
I'm going on down to Yasgur's farm,
I'm gonna join in a rock and roll band.
I'm gonna camp out on the land.
I'm gonna get my soul free.
We are stardust,
Billion year old carbon,
We are golden,
Caught in the devil's bargain,
And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden.
And you see, even in a time of turmoil and rebellion, drugs and free sex, even pagans knew that they were trying to get to something holy, to set their souls free, to escape the devil. They want the perfection of Eden. Schaeffer's discussion of the New Earth and its perfect integration of all people is exactly what Mitchell was longing for. It's exactly what we're all longing for.
(Other posts on this chapter can be read at Cindy's Ordo Amoris blog.)