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Interview with Rev. Dr. Frank Forrester Church

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Church, F. Forrester ; McKiernan, Stephen


Rev. Dr. Frank Forrester Church IV (1948 - 2009) was a minister, theologian and author. He eventually ended up becoming a voice known to speak for Universalism. He wrote 25 books and most of them involved religion within his life. Church was a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Divinity School. He earned a Ph.D. in early church history from Harvard University.




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McKiernan Interviews
Interview with: Frank Forrester Church
Interviewed by: Stephen McKiernan
Transcriber: Benjamin Mehdi So
Date of interview: 23 July 1997

(Start of Interview)

SM: First question I would like to ask you, for churches. There has been a lot of criticism recently, even the last couple of years about the boomer generation, looking at the problems in America today, whether it be the breakup of the American family, the increase in drugs, the lack of trust in elected leaders, lack of respect for authority. Basically, zooming in on the boomer generation, that generation that grew up between (19)46 and (19)64. And that is the reason why we are having problems in America placing all blame back on that particular group. What are your thoughts on the criticism that oftentimes comes from the media, and even not political leaders placing blame on-on a generation that the (19)60s and early (19)70s in particular?

FC: Well by definition, because of its numbers, the boomer generation, as you call it, is a dominant or I
imperialistic generation. I call this the python in the snake. Each decade as this disproportionate number of people go through life, they according to their age, and interests, disproportionately affect the lives of all the other Americans. So, in the 1950s, when the taking the snake was a child, everything was-was suburbs, churches and education, it was a passive time, the child was demanding an enormous amount of his parents’ attention. And this led to a sort of domestic period within our, within our history, in the 1960s, to pick as an adolescent. And as all adolescents do, it rebelled. And so, with a greatly disproportionate number of adolescents, at times of crisis, the crises were made more spectacular, whether it be the response to the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement. Again, the peak was right on schedule. Expressive, rebellious, and by virtue of its numbers, very effective in the (19)80s, and (19)90s, to take those to the snake further. And we have the me decade, the decade of the (19)20s when people are all of a sudden, looking to their own interests and needs and sort of dropping out from groups and finding their own way. And in the (19)80s, the greed decade, where the pig is now moving on, into its (19)30s. And through its (19)30s. And thinking of rather selfishly having an enormous impact, I think this enormous number of 30-year-olds who happen to be disproportionately in the marketplace out there wheeling and dealing and cutting, jabbing. There is no question that the bat process to a degree was driven by this unusual, predominant number of young, hungry, green and somewhat callow executives. In many cases, what you have now, in the (19)90s, which could not become a decade, it is hard to know, is that the pig has in many cases settled down has children of its own, there was almost a reprise to the (19)50s. But with the memory of the (19)60s intact, the (19)60s and tact, there is a return to religion, there is a return to family values as a stronger set of concern for community values, individual. expressiveness is less treasured than group togetherness. And so, every level and through every decade, there is no question, but this generation has had a remarkable impact, sometimes for good, sometimes pretty ill mostly for both. And I see this process continuing as the pig goes on to the end of the snake and becomes enormously imperialistically demanding of rights of support of benefits. And at that point, perhaps we More than any other in the course of this generation’s life, the body politic will be taxed by the hunger and demands of the boomer generation, we have at this point for a decade or so have the opportunity of seeing the mature take, perhaps at its best and doing for others more than doing for itself. And almost every other point, with the possible exception of the (19)60s, where others, at least idealistically with a goal to be served. The tape has been a narcissistic one, it seems for a time that we are going to have the benefit of this large generations. That time will again pass as the needs of the older boomers are, weigh in. And I use the term pig with-with amusement, but nonetheless, not without a certain amount of rhetorical or metaphorical effect. Because there is no question that this generation by virtue of its size, its appetites, and its power has been the major feeder at the American trough, from the very beginning.

SM: Excellent, I just want to double check me anyways. That is acceptable or has-

FC: To be spun, spun out.

SM: Okay, this leads right into the next question. And that is, it is just a very vague, vague, but also very general question, what has been the overall impact of the boomers on America through 1997? Knowing that boomers are just turning 50. Because the group that was born though, front of this generation is now turning 50. This year, they certainly got many more years ahead of them. But they are still in now in midlife. If you look at 197-1987, as we are heading into 1998, what has been the overall impact of boomers on America?

FC: Well, as I said, and each-each decade of our life, our impact has been due to the particular needs of our age. We today are concerned about health, longevity, fitness. And that movement is being tremendously driven by people who are getting old and refusing to accept the fact; there is an economic driver in every generation. And as- put another way, there is this economic driver that the boomer generation pushes through each decade. And there has been a disproportionate amount of power success. And influenced by this generation, to the extent that others, both previous and following have been and rightfully so, somewhat jealous of the impact that this remarkably large number of people has had. Let me give you an example. In the 1960s, when the boomers were adolescents, oldies in music, were from the 1950s. No one in my generation listened to anything of our parents’ music. We had no interest in our parents’ music, we have noticed movies in the (19)30s, the (19)40s, up to (19)55. (19)55 on those things were interesting because they were the precursors to the Rock and Roll, we were here in the 19(19)70s oldies became (19)50s and (19)60s, in the 1980s they became (19)50s (19)60s and (19)70s in the 1990s, there (19)50s (19)60s (19)70s (19)80s and early (19)90s. So, what you have here is a generation of people, which has imposed its own taste, its own memories, its own experience upon the entire country. There still are no oldies from the (19)40s or the (19)50s the (19)30s in the (19)40s. But so long as this generation is alive, the oldies will begin when they started to listen to music. Now that is a fascinating cultural example of the imperialistic overweening power of my particular age group. We have determined not so much the tastes of everyone in the country. But we have imposed our tastes upon the country.

SM: What are your thoughts on the impact that boomers are having on their kids and getting it back that in the (19)60s and early (19)70s, the boomers were involved with or course trying to end the draft, they were fighting to get the vote. The old slogan at that time was, you are old enough to send me to war that I should be old enough to vote. So, they got the right to vote, get the boomers really have not used. voting records among boomers has been very poor. And it is even poor amongst their children, which is today's current college generation, the generation I am dealing with, could you kind of reflect on the impact that boomers have had on their kids with respect to the aspect of activism, which so many took part in their youth. But we do not seem to be seeing that amongst today's youth. And we are seeing some of the characteristics that have been passed down from parent to child.

FC: Well, if one were to take the, the selfishness, low teeth, and play it out, I would say and this is far too general to be applicable to an entire generation, because you have so many different people here to try to make generalizations. It is great mistake, that I would say that having blamed all of their own problems on their parents, and therefore becoming so aware of how vulnerable parents are to the criticism of their children. Our generation decided to liberate its children, and excuse itself from responsibility. So that we have not both ways, we blamed our parents, but we will not accept blame for our own children's lives choices in future. So, you have, in some ways, a more passive group of parents who have been to a degree and again, one has to be very careful with generalizations to a degree exculpated themselves from responsibility by providing the freedom that they felt that they were not given as children, and then washing their hands of the consequences of that kind of laissez faire parents.

SM: Going back to a mindset as a boomer, what, and looking at the generation, then and now, you changed your opinions of boomers over the years. You were a boomer; I think you are in your late (19)40s. And what have been your you have been pretty consistent on your thoughts about boomers from over the last 30 years or-

FC: When you are, when you are part of a phenomenon, you very rarely examine it objectively or critically, you take it for granted. I have never thought of myself as a boomer. I occasionally recognize the advantages that have come with being a part of the pig to the snake. But I have I do not I do not think of myself in those terms.

SM: Using some adjectives, what are the qualities, the positive qualities that you see? And some of the negative qualities you-

FC: See, most of them are the same qualities that exist in all people at all times. I do not think that the group is any different than any other group. Quality is different qualitatively, which means, again, that the impact that has at any given age in any given decade is going to be to a large degree determined by the interests, passions, concerns of 10-year-olds, 18-year-olds, 28-year-olds, 38-year-olds, 50-year-olds. So, we are not talking about a group different in kind, only different in size. So, one might more correctly ask, what would any group of 18-year-olds tend to have in common with one another? And if you have an awful lot of them around, how is that going to change society? That is certainly what happened in the-

SM: Statistics differently different size. I have read that there were 65 million boomers and then another book that I have read material say that we are (19)10s [inaudible]. That is a big gap there but-

FC: It is still in the taking this thing, there is no question about that. It has been a larger generation than its parents and a larger generation than, than the ones have following it by-by a considerable amount.

SM: Two of the major issues facing boomers’ life in fact, I read a book recently defining the difference between the activism of today and the activism of say 30 years ago. And the activism of 30 years ago really concentrated in two major areas, and that was fighting this war in Vietnam and civil rights movement. And then many of the other-other women's movement, the environmental movement, were offshoots of learning from the Civil Rights Movement. Could you comment on? How important the students were in ending the war in Vietnam? Your thoughts on why the war ended, the major reason for the war ending? And how important are the young people that are worried anymore?

FC: Well, I think, I think the war ended primarily because of the unrest in the streets. I think that my father Frank Church, held the same view, I felt that until there was the ongoing threat of societal chaos. The American people were not concerned about a little war, halfway across the globe. Indeed, its casualties began to bounce. More and more families were intimately involved. But had it not been for the student protest movement, the war would have continued, my guess is much longer than did certainly Lyndon Johnson would not have been replaced as president in 1968.

SM: Smith, from ABC News, I interviewed him last summer. And I was there for five hours getting a one hour one hour interview. Yeah, I will be back. But it was good interview, and it gave me the time. I really appreciate it. But you are caught on to the reason why the war ended. Because middle America saw body bangs. And that is politicians realize what middle America was against the war in the war had to stop your thoughts on that.

FC: I am sure that the body bags as they began to pile had an effect and impact is no question about that. But I also think that the ripping of the societal fabric was tremendously destabilizing for the leadership of this country. And let them find it to recognize that so long as they were to continue sponsoring this war, they were going to be sponsoring chaos.

SM: Back to your commentary, when what your father said about the unrest in the streets, from growing up with the distinguished senator, and hearing the talk, probably coming he was coming home and sharing it with the family some of the discussions in congress and the feeling that he had. How close were we? You know, some people will say, well, you can never compare the (19)60s, early (19)70s to the Civil War. Nations coming apart, but some will say leader this close to come into power. How close were you?

FC: I do not think we were nearly as close as the students. I believe we were I mean, I and my friends all thought there was about to be a revolution. We were a bunch of idealistic pipe dreamers in part, I suppose, because we were a bunch of hedonistic pipe smokers, but there is no comparison between the 1860s and the 1960s. On the other hand, because of the disproportionate number of adolescents acting out appropriately and age appropriately, there was heightened sense of drama, urgency and crisis that helped us finally move along the civil rights movement and extricate ourselves-

SM: From the threat in the civil rights. And again, I have interviewed quite a few people so far, and some of us have different opinions. How important are boomers in the Civil Rights Movement, knowing that Freedom Summer really took place in (19)64? And that was that (19)64 was and-and I think boomers were 18 years old, the oldest group was 18. So, a lot of things like civil rights that already happened. So, some people try to downplay boomers’ impact.

FC: I think they had next to no impact in the early years of that movement, but there certainly was a strong contribution of Black Power adolescents in the mid to late (19)60s and early (19)70s. In helping to define and continue to define the Civil Rights Movement in a sharper and more confrontive manner that has been defined under the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr.

SM: What are your thoughts on Dr. King respect to the fact that he was one of the few people that saw the linkages between the war in Vietnam and civil rights and how we treat people at home and how we treat people abroad and of course, the division of the Black Power Movement and many people that were posted after King really criticized him for making those statements I believe in 1967.

FC: Dr. Martin Luther King was a large roundabout soul he was not in any way parochial. He was one of the few prophets we have known throughout the past 50 years.

SM: A lot of things that are regarding looking back, it is this issue of trust. Trust is an issue that seems to be a problem in America today, for obvious reasons, but historians and analysts will say it goes directly back to that era of the (19)60s when Lyndon Johnson and McNamara were in charge of the war in Vietnam and for the line the American public and actually seeing the news media. For the first time were critically critical of the government. Of course, Watergate is very obvious. So elected officials being dishonest. How, what are your thoughts on this issue in America today? The issue of trust and the lack of it, and how can we really be as successful nation around this?

FC: [audio cuts] The lapse of trust has directly to do with my opinion, not just Vietnam, but Watergate, and the empowerment of the investigative press. There had always been an old boy compact between the politicians and the press, which protected the politicians and to a degree protected the innocence of the American people. We lose something when we when we become so avidly interested in the peccadilloes of our leaders that we lose sight of their potential greatness. Here is, here is an interesting progression for you. In in the 1900s of this country, this century President Wilson was so completely incapacitated, that his wife was president, in effect for months at the end of his term, and no one knew. In the 1940s and (19)30s. When President Roosevelt was president, he was physically incapacitated, but no one knew because no one pointed out and no one known that he was physically incapacitated, he may never have been elected president [inaudible] was elected three times. In the 1960s. John Kennedy, a great national hero and-and in many ways, fine president was morally incapacitated by a strong sex drive and pension for womanizing, which was never shared with the people of the United States. Today, the smallest thing that anyone does and many things that a person does not do are fodder for gossip columns, the subject of commentaries, it is no wonder that a relatively ordinary man, although enormously talented, such as Bill Clinton, is the constant subject of innuendo, of character assassination. This would never have happened before. So, we have moved from a situation which was in many ways much more dangerous to the republic, actually having a president who could not think with no one knowing or having a president who could not move carefully without anyone knowing was the president who was acting wantonly without anybody knowing. And now, everything sucks. There is no question but that has an impact upon our trust level. It is not just because rumored quote unquote generation has so many people who were turned off by government in the 1960s that we are all a bunch of untrusting people. As a matter of fact, this iteration has as predictable moved from being radical to being conservative as it is become more money. So, you do not have a group of people who are, by definition permanently radical out there changing the trust quotient. You have a changing, set not of mores, but standards, which may in fact become impossibly hard. And if we are going to go back to a time when we took pleasure in and respected our leaders, we may have to be a little bit less prudish and a little bit more forgiving the human foibles that every human being including our greatest leaders that we manifest.

SM: This it gets right into the whole issue of cynicism. Now, I again, I read quite a few people so far. And one, when that question was asked, if you were to define one of the major weaknesses of the boomer generation, again, relating back to history is that that is the most cynical group I have ever seen in my life. Cynicism has is, of course was linked to trust. You know, I do not know how you feel about that. But well-

FC: I do not I do not sense that my generation is any more cynical than the one that was followed, or the one that was following that. I think cynicism is growing pace. I call this cynical chic. And it is combined with something I call sophisticated resignation. And he knows so much about the problems that face us, that we resign ourselves to the fact we cannot do anything about if anything, my own generation is more willing to attempt solutions and change. Because we were raised at a time when our impact was so great, that we have not forgotten that. So, I would say, yes, there is to be a label placed upon this generation. While cynicism is growing across the board in this country, I would not call this the cynical generation. I would, I would call it the imperialistic or confident generation. And therefore, when we have opportunities to work together and do something, we tend to rally and do that.

SM: You were to look at you made some commentary about the size; we know this is the biggest generation American history. And the fact is that a lot of the books that I have read sociology, books, history books will say that when you look at this generation, they will use this term 15 percent are really involved in any kind of activism. And the rest of them decide what their daily lives wherever. And so, and thus, what they are trying to say. And these are some of the critics of the generation again, we will come back and say the problems. It was really just a bunch of elitist snobs and elitist schools that are involved in this many have gone on to politics or whatever. And they credit downgrade anything that was positive about that period.

FC: 85 percent of any generation is self-absorbed and unconnected and not involved. However, 15 percent of a very large generation is going to make a disproportionate impact over 50 percent. However, 15 percent of a smaller generation. That is, it. This is why I mean generalities. Of course, 85 percent were involved, or interest never, never will be; that does not change that much from one generation to the next. If you have a lot more people though that 15 percent ways given with a much larger and more powerful voice.

SM: Do you feel that many people within the boomer generation and then this gets directly back to our conversation from the interview started with Senator Muskie that a great portion of this generation are have a problem with healing from the visions when they were young. I am specifically gearing toward the Vietnam War. Those were for the war those were against the wall.

FC: I think they will be served. The people who have had the hardest time with healing or those were the soldiers the Vietnam veterans. I do not sense that being a problem outside of that group, in any kind of-

SM: I have been to the wall several times in the last couple of years Vietnam memorial and tried to get an ambience and a feel for what they really truly are healing which was the goal of the wall in Washington still sent just from overhearing conversations and talking with veterans that they come on with-with this going along. Because there is-

FC: We will never be completely healed, and there is so much scar tissue there. Among the victims of the Vietnam War, perhaps the-the-the most neglected and therefore damaged group, at least among American citizens, with the veterans themselves.

SM: Again, I am just trying to get a feel for the people under so those who were against the war, I had a chance to interview Senator Gaylord Nelson, last summer and he said that I do not see anybody any boomers walking around with, I have not healed on their sleeve. But he said there was no question the body politic has never been the same thing. It was dramatically changed, right?

FC: It was dramatically changed. But I do not think those people who protested the war came away feeling at least most of them anything other than to a certain degree, morally superior and idealistically smart. With age and [audio cuts]. With age and the tempering of experience, we have mellowed in our pretensions, and attained, I should hope, greater humility. Again, I am speaking here of the 15 percent of people who were active, and I must, my friends were among one. And I have I have certainly noticed a mellowing that I take simply as a growing cynicism, I see it as a sign of maturation.

SM: Thoughts, and I want to emphasize this point, because a lot of what I am trying to do here is to interview people to metaphors, their feelings, so we better understand the times better and respect different points of view. Do you think there should be efforts made to bring together again, either through university symposium or through the media, better understanding of the divisions of those times, so that we can share why we felt that way? Because those were intense times with intense feelings, and is one Vietnam veteran said to me, I do not know, I am not upset with a protester if there was a sincerity in the protest, of sincerity. And that just running off to Canada, and I am just saying that I have talked to people with the wall and there was many guilty people because they did not serve and they have not gotten older and they brought their kids to the wall. There is that feeling, oh, my God, they did not have any of the young, but they have not now, maybe I could have served should there be efforts made to bring those who served those who did not serve together try to understand education wise. So, feelings of right time so that so that will not only help history but will also be an educational tool for future generation for future generations.

FC: For people who desire this and to take part of that I think that is that can only be for the good, I would put it low on my own set of priorities for tackling the present and future problems. I-I, however, was not traumatized. As many people were people who have been traumatized need to get together with other people to go work on their, on their problems, so that they can become more functional and happier and more fulfilled and less embittered humans.

SM: Define the generation gap as designed back in the (19)60s, and the generation gap of the (19)90s.

FC: I think that because of the size of the adolescent generation in the (19)60s, there was a greater sense of solidarity and power, which made it easier in a corporate manner to reject the preceding generation. Today, I see it more individualistic and idiosyncratic. Remember that the parents, today's children, are also continued to be the dominant group, even though they were the dominant group when they were the children of their own parents. That has to have an impact on the relative sense of empowerment and entitlement that the two generations feel Again, I speak of this as the imperialistic generation because it was, it was far more powerful as children than were its parents, at least in a, in a relative sense to other groups of children. It is now far more powerful as parents than its children in a relative sense.

SM: Can you feel that is a very important term, because in higher education terms, we are trying to work with students’ day in and day feeling self-esteem and empowerment. Now-

FC: That is why I call it the pig in the state, right? It is, it is a pig in more ways than what-

SM: I sense today's young people do not feel that many getting a scenario in 18 years of working with college students. And you probably see that I do not know, seeing this from the church. But the fact is that when young people today look at that period of the (19)60s and the (19)70s, to come away with two fields, either they come away with I am sick of hearing, you guys live in the psychology of right time, I am tired of it or I wish I could have lived in that time. Because I do not see the issues today like their work.

FC: The point to remember is that in either case, they are still defining their own experience, according to that of their parents. We in the (19)60s did not define our experience, according to that of our parents when they were young. We could not have been less interested in our parents when they were young. Our own children are fascinated by us when we were young. And that is because we continue to have the power. And the- we set the scene we set the stage, I could not have told you a single song that my violin parents had sung, I could not have identified it, I could not have cared less. While kids sing along with me as I am playing the Beatles on the radio. That is a huge difference. And it is not just a difference because of a change in communication styles and times and things. It is a difference because this big imperialistic generation, as has set the cultural political scene where the entire country by virtue of its disproportionate size.

SM: Let me just double check here. You referred earlier to the fact about size that we are, the boomer generation is their size, has tremendous impact on anything that needs to spread generation itself. When I was a young person on college campus, one of the terms kept coming up over and over again is and I do not know, the pace. on college campus, we are the most unique generation American history. In other words, there was, he might say almost an arrogance that it really did not have anything to do with size. It was just it was a feeling within it was within the mind that we were going to change the world for the better.

FC: I see. Again, I will disagree, I think it has enormously to do with size. There is, there is a disproportionate demographic, cultural power that comes with numbers. Take a look today at the focus of the major magazines, they have to do with health, and people in their (19)40s (19)50s and (19)60s, being young when you are 50. But we were in our 30s people in their 50s did not exist in the cultural media. Everybody was in their 20s and 30s. I think that this sense of entitlement has predominantly to do with the size of the generation. Also, the fact that the generation was pampered in the 1950s. It was pampered in part because of its size again. The- this my generation helped to shape the character of the (19)50s as much as it did in the (19)60s. And the character of the (19)50s was a very child friendly environment. Relatively speaking, where this generation by virtue, its number and its demands, was treated. Specially that to a degree has something to do with the sense of entitlement that followed in the (19)60s. But the generation was not just blown from the Prowler Zeus is some kind of special group of people who arrived at a critical point in history and made a difference by virtue of being different from everyone else. It has to do with size.

SM: If you to pick the one event in your life when you were young that had the greatest impact on you. When you were either in your teens or early during college. What was that incident what event the greatest impact on your life?

FC: Probably the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.

SM: Where were you at that time?

FC: I was at Stanford.

SM: I asked this because people that you described where they were, how did you find out about where were you at the moment?

FC: In both cases I was in my dorm room or house room and was called by in one case friends and in another no and in the Robert Kennedy case I campaigned for Kennedy for the Democratic primary, and I was actually watching the returns and the other in the other case, I was called the telephone for the television by friends.

SM: Did this event have any impact in terms of the direction you want your life saving here as a minister?

FC: Because I already I mean, it confirmed me in my own path, which was not that kind of vocational path. It was, it was a path to make the world a better place, less violent place. A more companionable and neighborly place. This sharpened my passion and-and confirmed my commitment, rather than doing the opposite, which would be to lead to despair or citizens.

SM: Which on, again, have an impact on society, do you feel that you personally have had an impact on society? What is the greatest impact?

FC: I have had a small impact on society, but I believe you save the world, one neighbor at a time. And the institutions are far more powerful than individuals in making a difference in society. To what extent I have had any impact it has been through the-the collective work of this 1500-member congregation. Which is far greater than anything I could possibly do on my own.

SM: Some names of individuals from (19)60s and early (19)70s and just your thoughts on that. 30 of them okay, go ahead. How many minutes we got here?

FC: I have got a I have got to be. I have got about a half an hour.

SM: Okay. Okay, you are okay, because I have another interview for clients. The other side of town. Great, good. Good. Just your thoughts on these individuals Jane Fonda.

FC: Frivolous.

SM: Tom Hayden.

FC: He was, um earnest.

SM: Eddie Hopper and Jerry Rubin.

FC: Lightful and tragic.

SM: It is takeoff to Eddie Hoffman, he-he is outside of Philadelphia, and he let them know that no one is listening to me anymore. And [inaudible crosstalk]. When-when I read that, I was wondering how many boomers feel that way. Then they get abominations that no one's listened to them anymore.

FC: Very few. That, that is a function of celebrity and the and the withdrawal pains when one is no longer one of the 50 most talked about people that has nothing to do with the generation. That is true of any individual who has his 15 minutes in the sun. And then the sun is covered by clouds, and no one can see it feels as if he is invisible, whereas most people would never expect to be visible in the first place.

SM: The Black Power advocates, Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Seal, Huey Newton, [inaudible]

FC: Strident and powerful.

SM: Political leaders and there were some really good probably political leaders at that time, but they have a lot of things wrong for them too. And that is I am going to start with John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

FC: Kennedy was charismatic and inspiring. Johnson was powerful and tragic. Richard Nixon talented and sinister.

SM: Gerald Ford.

FC: Kind and pathetic.

SM: George McGovern.

FC: Humbly moral and everlastingly decent.

SM: He was on our campuses this past- Yeah. Eugene McCarthy.

FC: Narcissistic and supercilious.

SM: Bobby Kennedy.

FC: Great and [inaudible]

SM: Jordan Wallace.

FC: A-a creature of his time.

SM: Luther King Jr.

FC: Inspirational and worldly brilliant in the highest sense of the term.

SM: Malcolm X.

FC: Dedicated and powerfully impressive.

SM: Hubert Humphrey.

FC: Joyous and irrepressible [inaudible].

SM: Ralph Nader.

FC: Earnest and grim.

SM: [Inaudible] Larry.

FC: Irresponsible and delightful.

SM: Doctor Benjamin Spock.

FC: Complicated uneasy. I knew him pretty well too.

SM: Barry Goldwater.

FC: Solid and dual integrity.

SM: Gloria Steinem, Abigail Adams and Shirley Chisholm, people that were leaders of the women's movement.

FC: Gloria Steinem, basically indefatigable, courageous, idiosyncratic.

SM: Mohammad Ali.

FC: Endearing and amusing.

SM: Richard Daly.

FC: Born in the wrong century.

SM: Robert McNamara.

FC: Brilliant and heartless.

SM: Spiro Agnew.

FC: Second rate.

SM: Daniel Ellsberg.

FC: Accidentally important.

SM: Woodward and Bernstein.

FC: Dedicated and self-absorbed.

SM: Music of the (19)60s.

FC: Ruthlessly delightful.

SM: I know there is so many but if you were to pick your favorites, the musicians that you personally love and secondly, music that may have had the greatest impact on the generation and future generations. Who would those musicians be?

FC: Head and shoulders above all others I would say Bob Dylan both in terms of personal impact and impact upon generation. He is in a class of his own. culturally I would say that the Beatles the Rolling Stones were also in a class of their own, but if there is one if there is one thing here to stand out in the music, the (19)60s it is Bob Dylan.

SM: He was sick recently. He is okay-okay. Something, yeah. People around Richard Nixon, John Dean, John Michell [inaudible]

FC: Pure blind bureaucrats.

SM: Sam Ervin.

FC: I mean that is Dean Mitchell was just an egregious narcissist.

SM: Men and [inaudible] man in that [inaudible]

FC: Era in the, in the third line bureaucrat.

SM: Sam Ervin came in that [inaudible]

FC: Just a real country original.

SM: Senator Fulbright.

FC: Quite complicated and courageous.

SM: Senator Muskie.

FC: Steady as the day with law.

SM: Gaylord Nelson.

FC: A man who cares but also enjoys life.

SM: Dwight Eisenhower.

FC: A lot better than he seemed at his job.

SM: Senator Church.

FC: I would say [inaudible] patriotic, passionate,

SM: Most of the questions because we doubled over on one but I want to end by repeating myself. Please apologize for my doing so, but I am trying to get a grasp on the healing and regeneration as a minister, a person that worked with your parishioners you deal with this day in and day out as you started in the opening of your book lifelines, that letter that was left under the door about dealing with adversity. I want to, if you do not mind, I would like to read this. And-and again, I am repeating myself, but I must get clarity on this before some say that the Civil War generation went to their grave, still bitter toward the other side. And then again, it is going to should efforts be made to prevent this from happening again, because Senator Muskie really alleviated to this in our conversation. And he felt personally that this generation is even though it may not have been the same thing as a civil war, as you brought up. Still, it is his perception that many people in this generation are going to go to their graves, still bitter. And you know, as a minister, obviously, you know what bitterness can do to someone. And so, I am trying to do is try to understand this better. Because during my numerous trips to the wall, I have witnessed several ceremonies with veterans in the audience, some still openly hate the president. They hate Jane Fonda. They hate still the people that were protesting against the war. As the I interviewed a gentleman last night, who was the head of the Vietnam Veterans of Pennsylvania, and he says, I still I use the term hate, I will never forgive those who were against the war, who protested the war. I mean, they are a bunch of other words, they are just feeling guilt now because they did not serve.

FC: I know, I do not see how we can possibly legislate either forgiveness or reconciliation. Obviously, time will heal to a degree and people getting together as a positive thing. But if you were to talk about this generation as a whole, I would say that the-the healing between parents and child that is to save the child who that was to say adolescent in the (19)60s and now as a parent him or herself and his parents are getting older, or dying, is by far the more existentially pervasive gap because of the sense of entitlement of many people in this generation. And the obvious disappointments that have followed normal life development. The amount of blame afforded to parents given that there are so many children doing the blaming, I would see as the number one healing issue. Beneath that and well beneath it but-but-but probably more dramatic would be the healing that one might hope could commence or continue to commence between those who serve this country and Vietnam and those who oppose the war. I think the passion play is played out mostly in the minds hearts and souls of the Vietnam veterans, not in the minds hearts and souls of the war protesters.

SM: Again, when the best history books are written, and the best history books are always written 25 years after an event because the best World War two books are being written right now. Like Steven Ambrose’s D-Day. We were only 25 years removed 30 bucks. And then that 50-year period goes forth what will be the lasting legacy in the boomer generation, how will history treat this, how will historians when they sit down and write it the Doug Brinkley is of the world when he is writing.

FC: As creative, narcissistic, demanding and influential within every decade of their lifespan according to the needs and desires their age may not be clearly put you know what I am talking about having heard me for the rest of the year.

SM: Any final thoughts? Thank you very much.

(End of Interview)

Date of Interview



Stephen McKiernan


F. Forrester Church

Biographical Text

Rev. Dr. Frank Forrester Church IV (1948 - 2009) was a minister, theologian, and author. He eventually became a prominent advocate of Universalism. He wrote 25 books, most of which were about religion in his life. Church was a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Divinity School. He earned a Ph.D. in Early Church History from Harvard University.





Digital Publisher

Binghamton University Libraries

Digital Format


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1 Microcassette

Interview Format


Subject LCSH

Clergy; Theologians; Unitarian Universalists; Church, F. Forrester--Interviews

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Baby boom generation; Body politics; Music; Laissez Faire parenting; Voting; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Black Power Movement; Watergate; Activism; Elitist; Generation gap.


Frank Forrester Church.jpg

Item Information

About this Collection

Collection Description

Stephen McKiernan's collection of interviews includes more than two hundred interviews with prominent figures of the 1960s, which were collected between the mid-1990s and 2010s. The collection provides narratives of people who were actively involved in or witnessed events in the 1960s, an era which spurred profound cultural and… More

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“Interview with Rev. Dr. Frank Forrester Church,” Digital Collections, accessed May 28, 2024,