I’m meditating on differences between Baby Boomers and the Gen Y/ Gen Xers while anticipating an upcoming dinner convo with my Godmother, Bishop Barbara Darling. Whether you hate or love it, last weekend’s Royal Wedding was a visual statement that ‘those Gen Yers are growing up’…. and it provides easy comparison with older generations – especially with Charles and Diana’s marriage so easily available for reference (and also The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh). A wedding is a statement of values and of what is important to a couple. In the case of the royal family, it’s also a statement of what is important to a kingdom – this bit is crucial, because now of course, the royals are dependent upon public support.
I’ve been reflecting upon the so many spheres in which newly thirty-something Gen Ys are sitting, waiting ready. However, the Baby Boomer King has not eventuated yet which suggests the Gen Y monarch is a while away. While Charles is poised ready to take over the English Kingdom the question does hang in the air – will popular Prince William ever be King? If given the opportunity, I wonder what would emerge from his leadership… it all remains to be seen….
One of my interests is the spiritual makeup of communities, and describing this very transient concept. You see, it may be a truism, but communities are made up of many individuals. Together they decide what is valuable to them, and together they reinforce these values and ideas. Within academics, this is called the ‘zeitgeist’ or ‘spirit of the age’. Here, Christians should note that I’m not using spirit with a big s – I still hold to a Christian framework and believe there is one God, who cannot be constrained within human limitations (except in an important instance where He chose to do so). While I deem God real, I also believe there are different zeitgeists that govern nations, communities and generations, some real forces that we do understand, and others not so much. Either way, they hold a lot of power over the imaginations and hearts of humankind.
The zeitgeist over England for the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William is hopeful. To see the obvious love they have for each other is something that is warming the hearts of the English people. But it’s also something that intrigues me, as the royals are still the heads of the Church of England, here in Australia known as the Anglican church.
I recently in my blog reviewed the book ‘The Mission of God’ by Christopher Wright. I’ve adopted his idea that humanity desires deity. When humans choose to worship a god, they take on its characteristics. Thus, the worshippers of Baal, The God of war, worshipped aggression and so became aggressive. Worshipping a power-hungry God, they wielded power over those around them. Yahweh, the God of the Bible has certain characteristics, and similarly, when humans establish any deity, they wittingly or unwittingly take on its’ characteristics. This is something I’ve come to believe in more over the years as I’ve experienced the presence of God during times of corporate adoration. I also gained much through observation of my father’s garden as a little girl (my dad is a proud plant collector). This has left me completely convinced that musing upon the attributes and beauty of God reinforces such things inside one’s own life.
Anyways, a long preface … but Hugh McKay in his book “Generations: Baby Boomers, their parents and their children” kindly highlights certain things Baby Boomers have deified (made god). Now I don’t think he’s a Christian, but I’m pretty sure he is a Baby Boomer, so he’s not pronouncing judgement, but instead trying to verbalise the “zeitgeist” or “spirit of the age”. And if my theory is right, and what we deify (or make God) charts the course of our life (and our surrounding world as we impact upon that), so I think this is also a good thing to start with if we seek to predict how the world could change over the upcoming 30 years, as Generation Y define themselves according to or in contrast to this ‘spirit of the age’. Mackay highlights some things I thought I’d comment on:
There is no doubt sex holds the attention, imagination and preoccupation of a large amount of our population. Hugh Mackay states:
“… as a generation, Boomers inherited their parent’s belief that sex should be reserved for the person you are in love with; the difference was that they found it easy to justify a number of sexual partners by falling in love in the nick of time”.
Through interviewing people with a disability, I have been forced to face the fact that sex is not a human right, it is actually a luxury. It is not the essence of human life (as while all humans are created sexual and seem to have desire for intimacy, there seem to be many stages of life in which they are single, sick or just too darn busy and all their hopes in this area are just not fulfilled).
What is interesting is that I think that is actually becoming less of a ‘god’ as Gen Y grows up. Sex for Gen Y may actually not be as important as it seems to have been. In the second decade of this century, promiscuous 1960s Woodstock style events fade into distant memory and are not so obvious in Gen Y culture. For most people, the most raunchy part of their lives is midweek viewing on television – fictional characters really get around while the majority of the population work longer and longer hours. Even celebrities have given up promiscuous lifestyles to seek their TomKat or Brangelina – finely matched ‘equals’ with the expectation of monogamy. Obviously people are having sex – but it seems like babies pop up like mushrooms simultaneously while Samantha from Sex in the City, Helen Mirren and so many other fifties plus women are still finding their groove in high heels and short skirts. The virtual sex industry is on the rise. Perhaps sex is now more a part of our imagination than our reality.
The desire and hope for strong monogamous relationships has however increased, if the Royal Wedding is anything to take a cue from. The fact that Kate and Will were living together before their marriage was ignored during the ceremony, and the ArchBishop powered on as if they were approaching their wedding day with the same sexual liberation as the Queen received in being handed over to The Duke (well that was a bad example, but I’m sure you get the jist). Anyways, in true Gen Y style, I’ll keep going and tackle the other two deities, as I don’t think we need to stick on this topic any longer….