Spirituality for Today – Spring 2020 – Volume 24, Issue 3

Roaring 20's

Rev. Raymond Petrucci

One hundred years ago the decade of the 1920s would come to be called "The Roaring Twenties." World War I had ended two years earlier. The times were ripe for pursuing the American Dream. For the first time in our history as a nation, more people lived in cities than lived on farms and the impact would be dramatic. The post–war economy would begin to soar and seemingly everyone took part in it. An age of consumerism had arrived. New technical wonders such as the washing machine, the vacuum cleaner made housework easier. Henry Ford manufactured cars that were affordable and paid his workers more than enough to buy them. Credit was obtainable by almost anyone and people were buying and buying. Radio was emerging as a medium of mass communication. In 1917, Pittsburgh's KDKA was the first commercial radio station. At the beginning of the decade, some 500 radios were in homes and by decade's end there were 12 million. Life in the cities took on a rather freewheeling lifestyle. Many young women adopted a liberal attitude in giving birth to what was called the "flapper." The old-fashioned family values were on a precarious footing in major metropolitan areas, but these values maintained a strong hold in the rest of the country. The Volstead Act prohibited the manufacture of alcoholic beverages (altar wine was an exception). Prohibition was a godsend for organized crime. Gangsters such as Al Capone made millions providing a thirsty public with beer and booze, Political corruption was rampant. A multitude of southern African Americans migrated north in order to find better working conditions and a better life altogether. As a counterpoint, a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan also occurred during this decade. Although these were high-flying times, a cultural and an economic crisis was looming. The decade was to end in the Great Depression.

What will the decade of the 2020s be like? There are similarities to the 1920s, but also great differences. The economy is booming, moral values are lax, and politics is still politics. Advancements in technology still promise to make life easier. This decade may be one highlighted by new technologies in the area of Artificial Intelligence. Perhaps, we shall be required to learn a new lexicon dedicated to conversing with your robots. The twenty–first century has exploded in the various forms through which people can communicate with each other along with its concomitant benefits and pitfalls. Real challenges in improving race relations still face our society. A "Spiritual Depression" threatens to diminish human decency, dignity, respect, and the value of human life. Although, as stated, we are inundated with methods of communicating with each other, alienation and indifference threaten human worth. Aligning yourself with the dictates of an ideology seems to be the only measure of your value as a person. There is, however, a renewing power in the human spirit which defies extinction. Although there are struggles with inward and outward sinfulness, the Church headed by Jesus Christ stands and proclaims hope and salvation for mankind. Many open themselves to God's love and witness to it.

When a fire is lit to clear a field, it burns off all the dry and useless weeds and thorns, When the sun rises and darkness is dispelled, robbers, night prowlers, and burglars hide away. So, when Paul's voice was raised to preach the Gospel to the nations, like a great clap of thunder in the sky, his preaching was a blazing fire carrying all before it. It was the sun rising in full glory. Infidelity was consumed by it, false beliefs fled away, and the truth appeared like a great candle lighting the whole world with its brilliant flame.

Saint Bernardine of Siena

The rising, the resurrection of the Son with his truth blazing brings a Spring to the human soul that dispels the darkness and the wasteland of sin. This is a perfect time of the year to affirm life in of its manifold creations. This is a great time to affirm our very beings not as biological entities wandering the earth, but as the sons and daughters of God. What a difference in the manner of our living and of our understanding of who we are and of who others are that perspective makes.

And, therefore, the question is put again, "What will the 2020s be like?" In ten years, those of us who are still here shall know. But those of us here now shall plant the seeds of the field that will come to be – a verdant garden or a waste of "weeds and thorns." As I look at things, I hope that this decade will not produce a Great Depression, but a Great Awakening.