Looking under the Surface of the Millennial Generation

Article ID: JAF1341 | By: Mark Sayers

This article first appeared in Christian Research Journal, volume 34, number 01 (2011). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org


SYNOPSIS

Most of the media discussion around Millennials, or Generation Y, tends to focus on sensationalist trends and traits. Thus we are given a superficial caricature of a generation that is selfish, narcissistic, sexually permissive, and technologically addicted.

A deeper exploration, however, reveals a generation that has been raised and therefore shaped by the Baby Boomers. The postwar Boomers were the first Youth Generation. The Baby Boomers represented a radical break with previous models of personhood, and pioneered an attitude to life that was shaped by a mistrust of institutions and traditions, hedonism, a post-covenantal approach to relationships, and rugged, expressive individualism. The Boomers ultimately sought to gain a sense of personal freedom in order to define their own lives.

Therefore the Millennial Generation is burdened with the task of creating and defining their own lives. Millennials thus seek to eke out lives of meaning, and try to grasp moments of experiential transcendence from the offerings of consumer culture. By following the culture’s life script, young adults place themselves at the center of a disenchanted universe, ultimately turning themselves into idols.

Any Christian response must go beyond simply dealing with surface behaviors and instead must encourage young adults to reorient themselves around the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Only the cross can offer the individual a sense of transcendence; only the cross can offer a way out of the prison of self-worship; only the resurrected Christ can give young adults a place in God’s plan to renew the universe.


“When you’re young, you think everything you do is disposable. You move from now to now, crumpling time up in your hands, tossing it away. You’re your own speeding car.”1 Margaret Atwood

The Millennials, Generation Y, the Boomerang Generation, the Net Generation, and Echo Boomers are terms that have been ascribed to the generation born sometime between the late ’70s and early ’00s, depending on which expert you listen to. They are the children of the younger end of the postwar Baby Boom generation, although a minority are the offspring of older members of Generation X. For simplicity’s sake, for the remainder of this article, I will refer to this generation as Millennials.

Now before we really start, if you are a Millennial or know someone who is, let me say that generational study can be problematic at the best of times. We can all instantly think of ways in which we buck the trends that are ascribed to generations by demographers. Let’s face it: no one likes to be put into a box. The panoramic view afforded to us by generational study, however, offers us invaluable help as we seek to connect with generations desperate for meaning. That is ultimately my goal, both here in this article and for many of my waking hours, to connect a spiritually dehydrated generation with Christ the living water. Let’s dive in.

THE MICRO-STORY OF A GENERATION

There are two stories that can be told when it comes to the Millennials, a macro one and a micro one. The micro-story is usually told by marketers and demographers. It focuses on the traits, quirks, and the points of difference. It attempts to retell the story of the generation gap, and expose the ways in which the Millennials differ from their predecessors. This micro form of exploration is usually funded by business or education. Often the media will pick up the juicier details of such research and before you know it, stories about sexting, Internet addictions, or new extreme forms of youth culture will be fed to a public that thrives on stories that confirm their preexisting prejudices that “things are not as good as they were in the old days.” This media loop has created a public image of a generation that is lazy, fickle, shallow, entitled, oversexed, technologically addicted, and narcissistic.

THE MACRO-STORY OF A GENERATION

The macro-story is rarely heard because it is rarely told. It is a far more intriguing tale. It is the story of the conception, the labor pains, and, since the ’60s, the birth of a new kind of human, one who views and experiences the world in a way that is radically different than the generations of the preceding centuries. Most importantly for our subject matter, this new kind of human in turn gave birth to the Millennial Generation. It is this story that I would like to explore because I believe it helps us escape the reductive approach to generations usually taken by corporations in search of a quick buck rather than the salvation of a people desperate for God. To understand the macro-story, we must follow it back to its beginnings at the midpoint of the twentieth century, back to a strengthened bunker in the New Mexico desert.

The Conception of the New Human

As he completed the first successful test of the first nuclear bomb in 1945, scientist Robert Oppenheimer quoted the Hindu scriptures: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” Oppenheimer’s words came horribly true as two Japanese cities were destroyed, but they also came true in another way: Oppenheimer’s creation symbolically ended the world that had existed in the first half of the twentieth century. The heat of the nuclear flashes over Nagasaki and Hiroshima marked the end of the West’s hot war with the Axis forces, which soon subsided into the chill of the Cold War, a conflict that would define culture in the West for the next fifty years. The moral plasticity of the ’30s and the Jazz Age, put on hold by a global conflict, solidified into the moral conservatism of the late ’40s and ’50s. The economy of the United States, namely the manufacturing sector, was turbocharged by the war. An unprecedented standard of living was spreading out across the United States, a standard of living so high that visiting Soviet officials thought that they were being duped by a capitalist ruse. Mass production was giving birth to mass culture.


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During this period of growth, the postwar car culture reshaped America’s landscape both physically and psychically. Bill Levitt’s vision of suburbia reshaped understandings of community life, television reshaped family lives, and a recharged Madison Avenue began to reshape expectations of life. Most importantly, a new level of consumerism, increased mobility, and newfound disposable incomes shaped a new kind of human: the teenager, a strange creature that prolonged adolescence and created a liminal space between child and adult. The media of the day, fascinated with the arrival of this new kind of human, speculated that no doubt this quirky behavior exhibited by the young would die out as “they grew up, got proper haircuts and real jobs.” Many did, but not without laying the foundations for a new kind of approach to life that would shape the second half of the twentieth century and extend into the twenty-first century. The avant-garde lifestyles that Kerouac, Burroughs, Ginsberg, and the Beat writers lived on the edges of American culture and that had set the tone for the emergent teen behavior2 would soon be rocketed into the center of culture as a whole generation sat in the movie house, transfixed by the image of a new kind or rebel, one without a political, social, or religious cause.

Rebels without a Cause

James Dean’s portrayal of Jim Stark, a disaffected teenager struggling to discover a life of meaning in postwar, middleclass suburbia, in the film Rebel without a Cause, captured the ennui that would soon engulf the youth of the Western world. In the film Jim’s parents’ marriage seems fragile, his father fails to offer him a model of masculinity or purpose, and Jim finds himself coming of age as the first cracks begin to appear in the previously solid societal understanding of marriage and family. Jim also models a kind of choice paralysis in the face of his sexuality. Many critics and observers of the film note the clear sexual subtext in the film. Jim appears to be caught between his heterosexual desires for Judy (played by Natalie Wood) and his latent homosexual fascination with his friend John “Plato” Crawford (played by Sal Mineo), a tension that Dean’s biographers have noted as present in the actor’s own life. This subtle portrayal of the embryonic teenage sexuality presciently points out a societal shift from a covenantal concept of sexuality to one marked by choice, experimentation, and the quest for self-discovery—all themes that would pervade the twenty-first century.

It is important to note that Rebel without a Cause plays out in the mise-en-sc`ene of Griffith Observatory, a shrine to scientism flanked by saint-like statues of Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and Copernicus. As Jim watches a presentation on the destruction of the universe, the implication of impending cosmic disaster sets the scene for the morality play that the film becomes—the story of young people coming of age in a culture that provides unparalleled material comfort yet offers an empirical vision of life and the universe that is cold, empty, and purposeless—a spiritual vacuum in which the young must shape their own views of life.

The fledgling lifestyle of the film’s teenagers would set the tone for the changes that would be unleashed as the Baby Boomers came of age in the 1960s. The angst created by the existential crisis of the ’50s and ’60s ignited a search for meaning in the youth of the West. This drew many Baby Boomers back to the Christian faith as they responded to the messages of Billy Graham and other evangelical leaders and parachurch organizations, causing membership to mushroom in evangelical churches while numbers simultaneously shrank in mainline churches. However, the main bulk of the Baby Boomers looked not to the Christian tradition but instead to nontraditional avenues, both Eastern and Western, ancient and novel, in which to search for meaning.

CH-CH-CH-CHANGES

The ’60s are crucial at this juncture of our exploration. The decade sees the convergence of a number of spot fires into a raging inferno that radically changes the concept of personhood in the West. Most important of these factors were:

  • The war in Vietnam that rocks confidence in both government and the solidity of institutions.
  • The invention and proliferation of the contraceptive pill caps off a host of fundamental changes in the way sexuality is viewed outside of the previously held model of Christian marital covenantality.
  • The influence of therapy begins to reshape understandings of self. The individual’s feelings now take precedence over communality and morality. Social values such as kindness, manners, and civility are replaced by the value of individual self-esteem.
  • The women’s movement, the civil rights movement, the environmental movement, and the antiwar movement effect an entire rethinking of the West’s cultural past, casting a veil of suspicion over the role of the church and any previously held “established” or “traditional” moral social value or framework.
  • The Romantic movement of Rousseau, Shelley, Blake, Byron, and Emerson is rediscovered and recast into a populist form that posits experience, romantic love, art, music, travel, tribalism, and an appreciation of nature against what is seen as the cold, mechanical empiricism of modernity.
  • A move away from Judeo-Christian concepts of historical, revelation-based, ethical monotheism toward an exploration of “non-Western” forms of polytheistic/pantheistic religion. These explorations are given new expression under the polymorphous banner of “spirituality.” The spiritual explorations pioneered by Madame Blavatsky, James Frazer, and Hermann Hesse become mainstream during the ’60s.
  • The evolution of youth culture from late-’50s fad to full-blown global economic phenomenon as rock culture reshapes ideas of sexual permissiveness, recreational drug use, celebrity worship, economic consumption recast as “rebellion,” and an obsession with youthfulness.

Voltron-like, these forces combine to create an even more powerful giant, a radical new understanding of the self. This monster contains the ability to crush ecclesiastical structures with a single swipe of its giant paw. Callum Brown notes that it is these changes in the personal realm that have the most brutal effect on the church. Brown writes, “The generation that grew up in the sixties was more dissimilar to the generation of its parents than in any previous century.…The range of the changes in demography, personal relationships, political debate and moral concerns was so enormous that it did not so much challenge the Christian churches as bypass them.”3

The church, reeling from this multiplicity of changes, understandably fails to discern adequately that a new form of personhood has emerged, and thus is unable to respond effectively.

THE CALIFORNIA SELF

Psychologist Martin Seligman has dubbed the understanding of personhood that arises at this time as the “California self.” Building on Seligman’s definition, John Schumaker writes:

This California self is the ultimate expression of modern individualism in its most inward, narcissistic, self-centered, and self-serving form. To the California self, the primary reason for living is to make the right choices and to consume the right things in order to maximize pleasure and minimize pain and, in general, to get the most from life. Yet this identity structure operates at a distance from the stabilizing effect of the wider community. The California self succumbs easily to states of psychic disruption due to its lack of emotional commitment to the commons and an identity that places inordinate emphasis on personal and product outcomes.4

At the end of the day, the California self is the self in search of meaning in a reduced universe. The secularist, materialist culture offers us no greater horizon to look to. No longer can the self look to the transcendent for a greater purpose; instead it is given a limited, epicurean playbook out of which to operate. Thus, ultimately, as the children of the California-self infused Baby Boomers, the Millennials were born into a world in which they are trying to eke out lives of meaning within the cramped confines of the boundaries given to them by late modernity. I believe that this feature defines the Millennials more than any other. The Millennials have taken the Baby Boomers’ life script and run with it. This is one reason (in addition to the increase in births) why some refer to The Millennials as Echo Boomers, echoing the values of their parents, the Baby Boomers.

THE MORALLY INSIGNIFICANT UNIVERSE

In their crucial study of the faith lives of American teens, Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton describe the vision of the universe that Millennials have inherited from their parents and their culture in the following terms:

When a person lives in a morally insignificant universe…there is no natural law or world-historic struggles and achievements. When one looks up into the stars, one sees not the gods, nor the handiwork of God, nor the portentous alignment of planets; one simply sees empty space in which nobody else is at home. People living in such a universe find themselves in a small corner of that empty space of which their short lives have come by chance and for reasons nonexistent into being on this minor and insignificant bit of carbon floating in a galaxy destined for extinction. There is no Creator who set humanity here and guides our lives and history with providence. There is no larger law-like order in nature that structures the moral living of the human race. There is little worth spending life to fight for that does not seem arbitrarily chosen. There is no judgement, no final retribution or punishment, not even a remembrance of one’s life or anything human after time and physics have run their course. There is…simply the given self and world and experience. Nothing more.5

Understanding that the Millennials’ behavior is deeply shaped by this view of life and the universe is utterly key, whether such a view is held explicitly or implicitly. Even religious members of the Millennial Generation are affected by the overwhelming force of this worldview. They are left feeling embattled, with a fragile grip on their faith, and thus we see large numbers of Millennials leaving active Christian engagement in their mid-twenties.

With such a vision of the universe before them, Millennials are forced, in the language of Charles Taylor,6 to create their own constellations of meaning. Popular culture offers them countless ways constantly to construct, deconstruct, and then reconstruct lives of significance. In such an approach to life, any seriously held belief or commitment must be constantly reassessed, as new options and viewpoints are endlessly explored.

POST-COVENANTAL

Millennials, therefore, essentially are spiritually, mentally, and emotionally homeless.7 No longer are the traditions of home, marriage, sexuality, career, and religion viewed through a lens of stability, but are reimagined as various staging points, oases in the existential desert out of which a modicum of meaning may be derived. For Millennials, life is transitory, best described in one of its most popular parlances as “random!” The period between birth and death is a chance to construct an identity, and to accumulate a portfolio of experiences, in order to, through a minimal force of will, create moments that seem significant because of the pleasure and novelty that they deliver. This is the main reason behind the Millennial Generation’s commitment phobia. This commitment phobia is in part a natural byproduct of their coming of age in a hyper-consumerist culture that demands that we act like good shoppers, putting off committing in case a better deal can be found in the next store. When one must constantly look for a better deal, the thread of fidelity and covenantality that runs through the Bible is an anathema. The thought of commitment and limiting one’s options seems insane in a world in which a cell phone text message could arrive any second with a better offer. Millennials may not have created our post-covenantal culture, but it is normative for them.

It is this post-covenantality that shapes the Millennials’ practice of sexuality, community, and relationship.8 Behind all the media reports of young people’s permissive attitudes toward sexuality, behind all the performative sexuality beamed twenty-four hours a day through music videos and the Internet into the media sphere of the young, is the thread of post-covenantality. It is this post-covenantality, with its emphasis on radical individuality, that has created an atomized culture. Community slowly erodes as people push away from each other in their search for more personal freedom. In this post-covenantal culture friendship making has been reduced to clicking “Accept” on your Facebook “Friend Requests” page.

The church, rooted in the concepts of Christ-centered community and drenched in the stories of God’s covenantal love, struggles to position itself against the post-covenantal culture as it attempts to minister to atomized individuals trying to consume droplets of meaning in a morally insignificant universe, individuals who despise “organized religion” (which is simply contemporary code language for  covenant-based religion). Thus the church passes through the post-covenantal shredder, emerging as a shade of its former self, in which the biblical calls to commitment and self-denial are turned down in preference of a “right here, right now” mode of spirituality fit for a generation that views the universe as morally insignificant.

For Millennials, the eternal is either totally removed from one’s reality, or reduced to a kind of hazy vision that will soften the blow of death. The quest for salvation of previous centuries is recast as the quest for well-being.

So what on earth can we do to reach this generation? How do you reach those caught adrift in the morally insignificant universe? How do you speak the good news of Christ to those whose ears are ringing with the constant buzz of a culture offering them hedonistic distractions? How do you disciple a generation raised in the traditions of the California self? Well…we are going to have to slay some gods.

MINIGODS

Behind the supposed silence of the morally insignificant universe, if you have the ears to hear, is the rumbling sub bass of a paganism that is current in expression, but ancient in origins. Israel distanced itself from its neighbors through its refusal to create gods made out of stone and wood. The psalmist wisely noted that “those who make them [idols] will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.”9 Idols are inanimate objects in which the worshipper attempts to elicit divine favor. The psalmist understood that the real gods were not the idols themselves, but in fact the worshippers attempting to influence the course of the universe through their totems and affectations, and thus trying to be godlike. Idolatry is a human attempt to influence cosmic forces beyond our human station. It is an incursion into the realm of God. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks observes in his commentary on the book of Genesis10 that human attempts to blur the line between God and humans are the essence of paganism, hence the builders of Babel’s efforts to storm the realm of God, heaven.

Millennials in the current reduced secular worldview take the lead of their parents and their culture and turn consumer goods, sex, technology, travel, experience, and career into idols—idols that are attempts to create modules of meaning in an empty, transcendence-free universe. Thus the supposed gods of our age, our idols, are, in the words of theologian and philosopher David Bentley Hart, “merely masks by means of which the one true god—the will—at once conceals and reveals itself.”11 Jean Twenge has lumped the Millennial Generation, Gen X, and the Baby Boomers into a singular category that she labels as Generation Me.12 I would take Twenge’s thought a mile further and label the multi-generational cohort “Generation Me as god.” Jurgen Moltmann notes that in an empty universe we are secretly afraid of death, and our fear of death and our rejection of God forces us into recreating ourselves as gods. Moltmann writes,

Why have people in our modern world become so perverted? Because both consciously and unconsciously they are dominated by the fear of death. Their greed for life is really their fear of death; and the fear of death finds expression in an unbridled hunger for power. “You only live once!” we are told. “You might miss out on something!” This hunger for pleasure, for possessions, for power; the thirst for recognition through success and admiration—that is the perversion of modern men and women. That is their godlessness. The person who loses God makes a god out of himself. And in this way a human being becomes a proud and unhappy mini-god.13

UNCLE NIETZSCHE

It is at this point that a mustachioed, long-dead German raises his head from the grave. The worldview of the Millennial Generation is heavily influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche, who stoically looked at what he saw as an empty universe and prophesied that this Christless world was ripe for conquest by a breed of supermen who would, through the exertion of their wills, become like minigods. Of course his vision has been tarnished by its links to another long-dead mustachioed German, Adolf Hitler, but regardless it continues today in a softer mode, albeit with hipper clothes, a large cell phone bill, and an iPad under its arm.

The implicit, soft Nietzscheism of the Millennial Generation does not attempt to conquer the Alps or invade Poland. Instead it attempts to carve out a smaller, more fun world, a personal amusement park, which can furnish the individual with an enjoyable life. This is the essential worldview of MTV, which during Millennials’ development switched from a channel that featured music videos into a cavalcade of reality shows, which promised teenagers and young adults the tantalizing possibility that if they played their cards right and really “wanted it,” the mantle of the twenty-first century’s version of the Übermensch, the celebrity (a la Lady Gaga), could be theirs.

So if we are going to bring the Millennial Generation to life, we must have the nerve to kill. We must stare down the gods that have turned this generation into, in the words of Moltmann, unhappy minigods. The kicker is that when we look in the mirror, the same gods stare back at us. It is at this point that our resolution may fail us, as we look across our culture and see the power of the occupying forces of the self. Sure there may be sporadic insurgencies, and outbreaks of guerrilla fighting, but at the end of the day, the self as god still remains ensconced in the presidential palace. If only there was something that could confront Nietzsche’s vision of humanity—a force, a symbol, a resource, an action that could slay the gods that have besieged Millennials’ concept of self.

THE CROSS

Then, as we look out across the millennia, something grabs our attention. It seems small, weak, irrelevant. It is two wooden beams tied together. It sits two thousand years ago on a garbage dump. We almost did not see it, the light and noise pollution, the pumping soundtracks, the buzz, the tweets, and the twenty-four-hour news cycles almost took our attention away. But there it rudely sits. And before we know it, the noise, the heat, the distraction dies away. It rises up before us. The inane pop music is now gone, and all that remains is a steady beat, which we soon realize is our hearts pumping. Beneath our feet is dust, the dust from which we came, the dust that we will return to. Before we know it, all the lies of our culture, the spin thrown at Millennials that youth lasts forever, that somehow the present moment will hang in the air for eternity, are exposed. Our cosmic smallness, our fragility, our mortality is brought into the blinding light. Standing here, our pathetic attempts to be gods are revealed for the pitiful, cosmic charades they truly are.

For Millennials to begin a true religious conversion, one not hampered by the incessant chatter of the therapeutic self, we must remind both them and ourselves of our mortality. Our time here on earth is short, but this does not mean that we must squeeze out of life every ounce of experiential pleasure. As Søren Kierkegaard reminded us, the shortness of life and our mortality must push us toward God and our eternal destiny.

Two months ago on a beautiful day in Copenhagen I stood at Kierkegaard’s grave. The sun broke through the trees, and all around me on the lush grass sat impossibly beautiful and stylish Danish Millennials picnicking, making out, drinking wine, and smoking cigarettes. It was like stepping into a Scandinavian Ralph Lauren commercial. Yet jutting up in between these groups of young adults were roughly hewn, weather-beaten, centuries-old graves. Each tombstone was speaking of our mortality, silently telling the young people caught in the ephemeral pleasures that this will all pass. The scene was parabolic: beneath the youthful, glitzy, glamorous, hedonistic veneer of our culture, our imminent death and need for an eternal answer could not be hidden.

The cross reminds us that God came down from heaven and limited himself in what must have felt like the cramped and claustrophobic restrictions of humanity. God, in order to right the world and to bring life to those who had rejected Him, gave His life up willingly. You could not find a more countercultural reality at the center of our faith. The cross asks us to die to self, it calls us to slay the minigod within us. The cross restores the correct order between humans and God that paganism has blurred.

The cross shatters the myth that we live in a morally insignificant universe. The story of God, as told through Scripture, is a testament to a morally significant universe, heavy with profundity and meaning. Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton explain what it is to live in a morally significant universe:

Contrasted with living in the morally insignificant universe, to live in a morally significant universe means living one’s life within a larger, morally meaningful order that provides significant direction and purpose to one’s thoughts, feelings and actions. Such a universe means that one’s single modest life is at another level also inescapably bound up to a larger framework of consequence. In a morally significant universe, one’s decisions and practices and deeds bear the burden and reflect the significance of a much bigger story….In such a reality, moral temptations are serious business, as choices for right and wrong reverberate far beyond our own lives and affirm or violate a larger cosmic order.14

Once we accept the cross, Christ’s work upon it, and His resurrection on the third day, we find the flat, emptied universe instantly deepened. No longer do we hold to a view of the universe in which what we do, how we behave, and how we think are unimportant. Every decision, every commitment carries weight. The universe is now a sacred order created by, and centered around, God. Only when we choose Christ and His gospel and consciously reject late modernity’s alternate gospel of a morally insignificant universe can we begin to nod our heads, sway, and then truly dance to God’s beat as it echoes around the cosmos. John F. Kavanaugh wisely comments, “Only when we see ourselves as social and cultural beings who have chosen a gospel other than the one offered by the culture itself can we discover our full vigorous potentialities and make the changes that are incumbent upon us. Only then can we see the necessity for a life of integrity in our sexual lives, a life of authentic sharing, simplicity, and detachment in our use of things, and a life of true responsibility and commitment in obedience.”15

As we dance to God’s tune, we hear musical elements that address the issues and excesses of the Millennial Generation. We become attuned to the melody of covenantality, which works to place human sexuality and relationship in its God-ordained place. We move to the rhythm of Sabbath rest, which tempers our addictions to technology and consumption. We feel the bassline of living for something bigger than ourselves, something that pushes us toward obedience and responsibility in a universe where everything does matter. We sense the beat of worship, worship not of things, not of the created, but rather of the Creator. Instantaneously our idols fall away as we fall to our knees.

So what then is the answer for Millennials? Beneath the armies of worship leaders in skinny jeans, beneath the countless re-tweaks of church into bigger, smaller, and cooler, beneath the tweets, Facebook posts, podcasts, and YouTube channels, beneath the phalanxes of hipster preachers, beneath the movements of neoreformed, neoanabaptists, neopentecostals, missionals, organics, emergents, and emergings, beneath the attempts at formulating a postmodern theology, beneath all of these things, a truth remains. A truth is true not just for Millennials, or Gen X, or Baby Boomers, or Gen-whatever comes next. This truth is just as true as when the Babel construction  company got to work, when Cain went postal on Abel, and when a certain serpent whispered into Eve’s ear, “And you will be like God.”

Like every generation since the dawn of time, Millennials fundamentally need to know that they are not God, that they are broken and sinful, but that they live in a universe filled with meaning and importance, a universe created by a God so loving that He gave His only son so that we may have life.

Mark Sayers is the senior leader of Red Church in Melbourne, Australia, and also the creative director of Uber Ministries. He is the author of The Trouble with Paris: Following Jesus in a World of Plastic Promises (Thomas Nelson, 2008) and The Vertical Self: How Biblical Faith Can Help Us Discover Who We Are in an Age of Self Obsession (Thomas Nelson, 2010).


NOTES

  1. Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin (Port Moody, BC: Anchor, 2001), 485.
  2. For an excellent examination of the way in which the Beat writers, particularly Kerouac, influenced teen culture see John Leland, Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of On the Road (They’re Not What You Think) New York: Viking Penguin, 2007). Kerouac also reflected on the way he had influenced teen culture in America in his work. See Jack Kerouac, Desolation Angels (London: Harper Collins, 2001).
  3. Callum G. Brown, The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding Secularisation 1800–2000 (New York: Routledge, 2009), 190.
  4. John F. Schumaker, The Age of Insanity: Modernity and Mental Illness (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2001), 16.
  5. Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 157.
  6. Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981).
  7. For a fascinating discussion of our contemporary psychic homelessness see Steven Bouma-Prediger and Brian J Walsh, Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008).
  8. For a more detailed examination of the phenomenon of a post-covenantal approach to life, see my book The Trouble with Paris: Following Jesus in a World of Plastic Promises (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008).
  9. Psalm 115:10.
  10. Jonathan Sacks, Covenant and Conversation: Genesis: The Book of Beginnings (Jerusalem: Maggid, 2009).
  11. David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (London: Yale University Press, 2009), 24.
  12. Jean M. Twenge, Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled, and More Miserable than Ever Before (New York: Free Press, 2006).
  13. Jurgen Moltmann, The Source: The Holy Spirit and the Theology of Life (London: SCM, 1997), 107.
  14. Smith and Lundquist Denton, 156.
  15. John F. Kavanaugh, Following Christ in a Consumer Society: The Spirituality of Cultural Resistance (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2004), 155.