Generational change…. rejecting Baby Boomers’ gods?

Because I am so very “J type” in personality, I am greatly hindered in life. By this comment, I mean I have to finish what I started or I am liable to wake up in the middle of the night with a to-do list crystallizing in my fuzzy brain. This completely destroys any dream I’m having, so I spend most of my waking hours finishing tasks in the hope that my creativity can run unabated at night.

After the Royal wedding and a psychotic amount of reading on missiology (required as Fuller’s entrance reading –  here I mean 23 text books of epic proportions), I wrote an article on the Gods of the Baby Boomers. The reason for this was that I am beginning to doubt that the Baby Boomers and those coming after them (let’s call them Gen X/Y) actually share that much in common in regards to the objects that they deify. Now I am a Christian, who believes that there is one real God. However, I believe also that people seek deities whether they are religious or not. And these deities are reinforced by society, and become gods. Fake or not, they hold sway on the culture and imagination of these people.

The first god of the Baby Boomers that I explored was Sex. Sex is definitely a powerful act, and has its place in reproduction, but I wonder whether Gen X/Y actually see sex as Sex. And, I was interested that there were no hits on a very sexy wordpress title…. Are Gen X/Y ‘over’ sex? It’s a thought I’m still trying to unwravel…. When fifty-year old women parade on television in the types of outfits  teenagers no longer wear (aka Sex in the City’s Samantha Catrell), I wonder whether the next thirty years is going to be less sex- focused than the last thirty. I also wonder whether the desire to be a sexy fifty-year-old woman is a positive desire? – Is it trying to turn back the years on the clock to when childbearing was possible? What the heck is wrong with being past the age of bearing children? Given that this means moving a large amount of bodily liquids such as poo, vomit and wee. Vulgar, yes. That is childbearing. So I guess, maybe, to answer my own question, that is why women now feel sexy at fifty… Anyways, here are the other two deities indirectly named by Hugh Mackay, and my thoughts..

1)    Material Wealth

There is little to say other than that this morning a garbage truck came to crunch up unwanted stuff neighbors put out on our street. It started at 4:32, and by 7:00am, it was done. I don’t think we need to rely on Mackay’s observation of the place of material wealth in the Baby Boomer’s mentality – it’s obvious enough. I have no idea what I am going to do with those ridiculous blue ceramic ducks my father placed proudly in his front garden two weeks ago, if I acknowledge that it is the role of a daughter to dispose of the material possessions that one’s father accumulates… Dear Lord, I need help. But whether or not my generation and I can live a life that is less material, less focused on these things, remains to be seen.

2)    Personal Growth in the Information Age

For Mackay, one of the main differences between Boomers and The Silent or Lucky Generation is the incredible amount of choices accessible to them. Particularly women – over the last fifty or so years women have encountered an exponential amount of choices, from working in careers previously off limits, to the choice to work through their marriages and birth of children (women previously expected to relinquish secretarial or nursing duties once they tied the knot). Now it seems, the only barrier to becoming and being all you can be is you. And so, the quest to grow and develop fully is one of the overarching quests of the Boomer generation. This led to self-help section of various bookstores growing with quasi-psychological texts leaping to the top of best-selling lists. It also led to the increase in the educational sector, and the expectation that people would gain formal qualifications rather than on the job training.

The outcome of personal growth is considered success in the workplace, which comes with its own set of stresses and juggling acts, so in order to be able to compensate for time spent pursuing deadlines, deals and projects, there is an expectation of a luxurious holiday in an exotic location that can unwind what has been wound up. And all the massages, trinkets and spray tans help the local economy to continue marketing the images of what you would feel like if you could afford to get to [insert tropical island/sporting location/ exotic eye-opening cultural experience].

Now I may be jaded because of my own experience, where I have been studying for at least eight years in the tertiary sector with little light of day appearing in the future… but I wonder about what importance information actually has for the NEXT generation. In fact, information has become a right pain. We try to sift through it, but it becomes ever more difficult. My friend Marty Sampson tweeted a couple of weeks ago “tried to read the internet. Failed”. And I think this sums up our attitude to the amount of information that is now at our disposal…

So, if my thoughts are correct,  Gen X and Y have rejected the gods of the previous generation, and are busy making their own. I would love to proclaim that Christianity is the preferred option for the West, but statistics show that the church is not the centre of spirituality in this generation. It could be. I am passionate about this. And I believe that we need to be answering the questions that Gen Y and X are actually asking… and maybe even just hushing up about sex. Seriously.

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