October 29, 2017, The Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost, by the Reverend James Ross Smith
In the post-World War II period many things changed in America. For those of us of a certain age, that time was intense and unforgettable. One of the marks of those postwar decades was a yearning for authenticity. This yearning was a significant element of the literature and cinema of the period. J. D. Salinger was a kind of prophet of the authentic life: his Holden Caulfield condemned phoniness; his Franny, appalled by the bourgeois values of the Ivy League, retreated to her parents’ spacious apartment to recite the Jesus Prayer and remain unstained by everything that was false and fake. In Mike Nichols’s The Graduate, Benjamin, a recent college graduate, played by the young Dustin Hoffman, returns home to Pasadena, lost and confused about his future. And, as we discover, he can’t turn to his parents or their friends for guidance. In The Graduate, the older generation is clueless, hopelessly corrupt, hypocritical and, of course, inauthentic.