On the Road

This year is the 50th anniversary of Jack Kerouac’s landmark book, On the Road. I’m about 7 chapters in, and find it quite intriguing. It is the foundational work of the "Beat" generation.

It seems to be an ode to the adventurous, bohemian lifestyle. Published in 1957, On the Road challenged the structured, "responsible" way of living that was typical of the era. I had to read Kerouac’s work, the Dharma Bums, which led me to a loathing of those who live off of society without contributing anything to it–even while they are very well able to. My home state of California is full of Kerouacians. Nevertheless, I have come to realize that there is another way to look at the On the Road lifestyle.

Here’s a question: Which type of lifestyle is more Christian? Obviously, there are certain behaviors within both the bohemian and structured lifestyles that are outside God’s will for our lives. But, is the spirit of either lifestlye more Christian than the other?

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Share Your Thoughts

One thought on “On the Road

  1. Nice entry Tim. While I frown on many of the hedonistic aspects of the Beat Generation, I do love On The Road, and try to read it every year or two. I do think there is something to be said for being “open” to life and especially the call of a Christian life. Kerouac and Neil Cassidey were open to sponaneous adventures and a nomaidic existence. The call of God comes in many different forms and as Jesus reminded and showed his disciples – it can be instantaneous and life-changing. I think of the young rich ruler, unable to follow the advice of Christ and I picture a modern 21st-century suburbanite/yuppie (I realize that’s probably a generalization). If the heart is in the right place, I can see a bohemian giving everything up and following Christ. Actually, maybe the first disciples and the early church were somewhat bohemian (in the truest sense of the word, giving everything up for Christ, sharing all possessions, etc). These are idealistic connections, I admit, but then again I just finished reading The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, and that dude is definitely a bohemian Christian in every positive sense and connection one could make.
    I agree with your criticism of The Dharma Bums – you worded it correctly, “living off society, without contributing to it.” That existence is nothing more than a leech.