A Titanic Change

Rick Mattson Uncategorized 6 Comments

In his excellent book, Emerging Hope, Jimmy Long reminds us that the young generations in America represent a shift from Enlightenment modernism to postmodernism.

In Long’s view (and mine), this is a change of titanic proportions.

It means, among other things, that “Those who think that in due time [young people] will ‘grow up’ and look like everyone else should prepare to have unfulfilled expectations.”  (UnChristian, p22)

I believe those of us 45 and older can slip into denial quite easily about the identity of the new generation. We think they’re pretty much like us—aside from the tattoos and iPads.

Perhaps we’d rather not think that the arduous sweat equity that went into establishing the evangelical flag the past 50 years will be wasted on our children and grandchildren.

All that hard work! It can give us a sense of entitlement. It can blind us to the changing realities of a new day, a new audience, a new calling.

I believe the new calling is to bridge the gap between old and young, modern and postmodern, traditional and contemporary. Thing is, we have to realize that THIS particular gap is not traversed by walking across the room. More like flying to another planet.

I invite your comments.

Comments 6

  1. I believe my generation, I'm 28, longs to bridge the gap between different age groups as well as cultures.

    We are all God's creatures and we are realizing that more and more.

  2. Once again I challenge the premise “we've never seen anything like this before.”

    Rick, you and I are old enough to have seen 6 or seven generations (Lost Generation (1883–1900)
    G.I. Generation (1901–1924)
    Silent Generation (1925–1942)
    Baby Boomer (1943–1960)
    Generation X (1961–1981)
    Millennial Generation (1982–2001)
    Generation Z (2001–)).

    For my money, the difference between “Silent” and “Boomer” is just as sharp as between “Boomer” and “Xers”.

  3. i think the power of God is relevant in any generation. that should be the focus regardless of age, or “generation.” people know it when the genuine power of God is present.
    Paul said in 2 Tim 3:5 that in the last “generation” one sign would be surrendering power and being content with form only.

  4. Charlie, I agree that other generational changes have been sharp, and I appreciate the catalog you provide. But the rise of the current generation(s) coincides with the turn to postmodernism, the turn to subjectivity (I realize these are not precise categories).

    So to the extent that young people embody PM, they represent a “titanic” cultural shift.

    Two qualifiers: Some external behaviors of young adults may in fact conform to their parents and grandparents. In churches, some may embrace liturgy or hymnody, for example. I don't think that alters my basic point.

    Secondly, many thinkers have argued that PM is merely “hyper-modernism” — the inevitable, crumbling result of the Enlightenment gone wild. I agree with this. Hume and Kant, among others, were prophetic in this regard.

    But whether hyper-modernism or PM, some big cultural THING has fallen and it can't get up. That's the difference between young and old these days. Those of us leaning “old” in that sentence must come to grips with the new reality, in my my view.

  5. Will: You mention how the power of God transcends generations. Amen brother!

    It seems to me parts of the charismatic movement of the boomers has been normalized in the current generation. Not that all speak in tongues or prophesy, etc. But the experiential element of life with God is certainly peaking these days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.