Speaking of Casual by Ken Myers

Speaking of Casual

Not long ago, I had occasion to look at my high-school yearbook (no, Facebook was not involved). It was remarkable how many people who signed it with great affection and commitment are now mysterious strangers (demonstrating that faux-intimacy is not just a Facebook thing).

The most remarkable discovery in reading the comments of those signatories was how many of them—apparently lacking any real shared memories to commemorate—took the opportunity to celebrate one of the great achievements of our class (1970). It was on our watch—and due to our tireless efforts, I was reminded—that the school dress code had been eliminated. And just in time for the fashion explosion of the 1970s. Were we lucky or what?

“If someone were beamed forward in a time capsule from 1950 to today, the most notable thing would be that everyone dresses as if they just rolled out of bed.” So Mark Oppenheimer once commented to me in an interview about the cultural consequences of the 1960s. Oppenheimer, the author of the 2003 book Knocking on Heaven’s Door: American Religion in the Age of Counterculture, insisted that the most decisive cultural change of that tempestuous decade—coming to a close as I was getting ready to graduate—was the advent of a regime of informality.

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Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.

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