Weed in the Grass
Charles A. Reich’s The Greening of America
by Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr.
& Allan Carlson
Some biblical translations footnote the word “fool” in Proverbs as “one who is morally deficient.” Charles A. Reich was this kind of fool. Certainly no intellectual fool, he wrote well and readably, with considerable emotion. All the same, Reich’s often biting and accurate diagnoses of 1970 America’s cultural and political ills in The Greening of America eventually run afoul of his famed, rootless, and morally anarchic “Consciousness III.”
“There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear”: The opening words to Buffalo Springfield’s 1967 hit “For What It’s Worth” capture the astonishing, perhaps unprecedented, confusion sweeping through American life during the late 1960s. Existing verities, authorities, and moral codes faced mockery, and were in rapid retreat. Driven by a potent new form of rock’n’roll, and abetted by hallucinogenic drugs, many youth were in rebellion. Appearing shortly after the August 1969 Woodstock Festival, where a new age with its own culture seemed to jell, The Greening of America sought to make sense of and give historical context to these bewildering changes.
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Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr. holds degrees in economics and linguistics, has worked in commercial real estate development, and now spends most of his time on philanthropy. In 1986 he married journalist Roberta Green, who works with him on his philanthropic interests. He is an advisor to the John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation, as well as to the Christian Community Development Association, a network of nearly 400 inner-city ministries nationwide.
Allan C. Carlson is the John Howard Distinguished Senior Fellow at the International Organization for the Family. His most recent book is Family Cycles: Strength, Decline & Renewal in American Domestic Life, 1630-2000 (Transaction, 2016). He and his wife have four grown children and nine grandchildren. A "cradle Lutheran," he worships in a congregation of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. He is a senior editor for Touchstone.
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