Doak argues that the current student generation has, on the whole, a much different way of thinking about the world than the previous generation. They aren’t rebels, a la the sixties; they generally get along well with their parents. But they don’t think like them. The government is not a bugaboo to them. They don’t oppose taxes if they will be well spent to solve real problems. They are concerned about the environment. They are not opposed to immigrants. They have little interest in the “culture wars.” Of particular interest to those of us in “the Episcopal Summer of Our Discontent,” Doak writes:
“In general, today’s young adults are tolerant, accepting racial equality and homosexuality in greater numbers than their elders. Same-sex marriage might make the blood boil of Baby Boom conservatives, but to most young people it’s simply a non-issue.”The downside of all this is that “religion appears to be less important in the lives of millennials, as a group, than it is in the lives of older Americans.” (Gee, I wonder why that might be?) Doak notes, as have others, that the rising generation of evangelical Christians is more concerned with the stewardship of God’s earth and the needs of the poor than with the moralistic posturing of their elders. (Actually reading the Bible can do that to you!) But for many young people, the institutional church simply has very little to do with their own experience of life and its concerns — and indeed is often hostile to it.
Obviously the rising generation should be a major concern for our mission and evangelism. But what is needed is not gimmicks to attract and entertain them, but serious attention to their own best commitments and values. I’ve noted lately, in the context of the recent General Convention, that the “reasserters” — whether schismatic or (so far) yet in the fold — are moaning and whining about how the Episcopal Church is swirling the drain, all because of the gays (or ordained women, or revised liturgy, or civil rights, or whatever). Right. Does anyone really think that ACNA or any other church based upon “no gay cooties” will still be around a generation from now? (Gee, that’s sure a church I’d like to join!) Actually, it probably will be, at least in remnants. Baptismal regeneration was a big deal 140 years ago, and the Reformed Episcopal Church is still here.
+Rowan, are you paying any attention at all to this stuff?