Monday, July 19, 2010

Turn, Turn, Turn

It's been a couple of years since I have written anything for publication. There are a bunch of reasons for the sabbatical and maybe I'll get around to writing about it here before long.

But recently, I got a personal request from Elizabeth Scalia over at First Things to contribute to a series on Patheos about the future of religions. When I thought about the pastoral challenge for the Church in terms of the culture, it seemed clear that the biggest trend impacting art and storytelling is all wrapped up in the changing of the generational guards. Culturally, the Boomers are finally losing their clout and the Gen Xers and Millennials are struggling to define themselves. I'm suggesting that this will mean a two-sided pastoral challenge for the Church.

First is the effect on the gargantuan Boomer generation of a lifetime of listening almost exclusively to their own voices. The movies being created by and for the Boomers today are a very unentertaining mix of "Never regret! Life starts at 70!" and "Life is a cruel joke, ‘full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.'" Movies like It's Complicated showcase a bunch of grey hairs still acting badly, swallowing their shame, and ignoring their appropriate role as the wise mentors of the younger generations. The Dorian Greyish dark echo of this kind of story, are movies likeThere Will Be Blood and the chillingly titled No Country for Old Men, in which the characters' lives of narcissism and greed devolve into cynicism and brutality.
This article is a redacted version of a larger piece that will be coming out on another site shortly. The longer piece includes some yummy incendiary quotes from recent movies including this one between Millennial, Natalie and Boomer, Ryan, from Up in the Air.

Natalie: Would you stop condescending for one second? Or is that one of the principles of your bullshit philosophy?

Ryan: Bullshit philosophy?

Natalie: You’ve set up a way of life that basically makes it impossible for you to make human connections…. Jesus. I need to grow up? You’re a twelve year old! (From Up in the Air, written and directed by Jason Reitman)

I'll link to it when the whole thing is up.

I fully expect that this article will bring down a hard rain of indignant rebukes from Boomers. Which will kind of prove my point. Indignant denial has been raised to a high art form by the Woodstock generation. I should say that my piece is not meant to be an indictment of the whole generation. My task was considering the Boomers who have had the clout in the culture. I'm thinking mainly of the folks who "culturized" the Sexual Revolution - the angry, sneering, self-righteous, dogmatic folks for whom everything in storytelling and art (not to mention education, business and government) is politics and power. These are the folks who spent the better part of my life ridiculing me and my family and friends and advocating whatever allowed them to best live out the exhortation of the serpent, "But you shall be like god, deciding for yourself what is good and evil."

Here is the rest of the piece. Let me know what you think. Many thanks to Elizabeth Scalia for playing Barnabbas here.