THE GENERATION AT RISK IN GOD’S FIELD OF DREAMS
Text: Psalm 11.3; Matthew 13.24-26ff.
Topic: Four Consequences for The Generation at Risk
Theme: God’s Field of Dreams for The Generation at Risk
Crucial Issues: Ethics from ethos - stable, refuge, resting place.
Morals from mores - what people do.
The Challenge of the Baby Boomer Generation in a Designer Culture. The Church must call this generation to “The Road Less Traveled” (cf. Frost’s line used in the film, “The Dead Poet’s Society), but this can only be accomplished from God’s Field of Dreams.
Perspectives of Passion--Opportunity and Challenge: Nine months and seven days after Japan surrendered in August, 1945, there were 250,000 births in the USA. Between 1946 and 1964 there were 76 million births. This generation is The Baby Boomer Generation and they are The Generation at Risk!
They reflect the radical cultural and ethical changes which have taken place between the 1950's and the 1990's in American culture. The search for the Good Society in Lockean individualism explains why the Generation at Risk is so preoccupied with Self-Realization, and so indifferent to the needs of what they call “the public household.” This generation “believes that we can live as we choose, using the big institutions (agencies of the state, the companies or organizations we work for, the schools we attend) for our own ends, without being influenced by them.” The Church must call this generation to God’s Field of Dreams by showing them that institutions are not neutral mechanism. Rather, they powerfully shape our feelings as well as what we do. Like individuals, institutions embody values and ideas about the ‘Good Life,’ and thus are subject to moral scrutiny (see especially Robert Bellah, editor of the book, Habits of The Heart and The Good Society). The Church is the only institution in our culture with the mandate to enter public discourse with a culture controlled by The Pagan Temptation. The Gospel from God’s Field of Dreams
“. . .offers informed criticism of large scale institutions which most Americans find too complex to comprehend or care about. They discuss and ultimately condemn the utilitarian cost-benefit analysis that government bureaucrats use as a substitute for hard thinking about the common good.” The Church “. . .must criticize the tendency of narrowly focused courts (cf. Charles Colson, at Harvard University School of Business, on “Business Ethics”) to view complex social issues like abortion in terms of competing absolute rights. They also suggest a re-evaluation of the legal basis of corporations and prescribe greater participation by workers in defining corporate goals. “. . .political advertising on radio and television should be outlawed. This would eliminate the need to raise Hugh campaign funds. Media debases political discourse by over produced images and contrived slogans. Universities have lost their souls by settling for teaching methods in the humanities and social sciences rather than what the materials assert (recovery of critical thinking) about what is and what ought to be. More importantly, we are reminded that even classical pagan Greek and Roman understanding that schools are not the only or even primary institutions for educating the young.” (See my paper, “Education and Enemies of Permanent Things; Going First Class on The Titanic;” and “Education in a ‘Politically Correct’ Pluralistic Culture.”)
Locke was and is wrong. The Good Society composed of the Generation at Risk is not the by-product of autonomous individuals pursuing their own self-interest. (The Generation that was “spooked by Spock” created the Omnipotent Child.) Nor is it achieved by the careful balancing of competing interest groups. Only the Church standing in God’s Field of Dreams can approach the Generation at Risk with the transforming power of Christ at this time.
There are three dominate characteristics of the Generation at Risk which must be challenged: Its values are reflected by (1) Choice vs. Commitment; (2) Self-Realization vs. Self Sacrifice; and (3) Rebellion (Freedom) vs. Attachment (commitment alone produces stable relationships). Each of these radical shifts represent the values of millions of the Generation at Risk. Herein is the fundamental challenge to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to the global purpose of the Church in 2003.
The ethical commitment of the generations prior to the Generation at Risk lived by strong attachment to family, home, marriage, church, nation, etc. (cf. The movie “Fiddler On The Roof”--radical changes and traditions). The new generation (1946-1964) adopted new ethics, life styles, and goals--wealth and success. This ‘me’ generation was the offspring of people with ‘traditional values.’ Suddenly there was fire in the streets, destruction in the home and university, and any institution that reminded them of an adult generation which contrived to impose ‘old standards’ on their thought and behavior. The cultural forces of parenting articulated by Spock declared that any form of negative reinforcement of behavior should not shape the new generation. This theory of parenting produced the ‘omnipotent child’ of the 1906's and 1970's (cf. Thomas Millar and his book, The Omnipotent Child). This parenting theory of ‘razing’ children penetrated educational philosophy. Decisions of the Supreme Court proceeded to remove the Christian faith from the center of daily life by its pronouncements stemming from new legal hermeneutics (cf. Prayer, abortion in culture demands politically correct values which level society (see my papers, “Changing Legal Paradigms” and “First Amendment Hermeneutics.”)
Cultural Influences on The Generation at Risk: Only God’s Field of Dreams can constructively respond:
1. World War I (1914-1917) - America comes of age, population 878% rural, 13% city/urban; 1980's 2.75 % rural and 1990's 1.7% rural..
2. The Roaring 20's (1929-1934) - The Great Depression, presently the Silver Eagles in Churches, e.g. Steinbeck’s book, The Grapes of Wrath.
3. World War II (1939-1945) - Eisenhower’s Progress, Prosperity, Social ills on Broadway, “The West Side Story.”
4. Russia tests the first nuclear bomb in 1949.
5. The Korean Conflict - June, 1950.
6. Russian Sputnik (10.04.57) - the Iron Curtain and the Cold War, etc.
7. Media invades the American Home - TV in 1957, the shaping power of media.
8. James Dean was the prototype in the movie “Rebel Without A Cause” showing despair, depression and rebellion.
9. The Central Question of the 1960's - What is the meaning of life? Drugs, the Sexual Revolution, “Let’s put a man on the moon in a decade”, the Viet Nam War (52,000 died on the killing fields; 165,000 committed suicide on returning home), striving to be a world class nation (Life in Camelot); Civil Rights (LBJ’s debacle in 1963) prayer in the schools removed.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech at the Washington Monument, “I Have A Dream,” 1968; 3 deaths in Camelot, Flower Children, the Counter-Culture, Woodstock in 1969 with 400,000 attending.
10. The Decade of Pessimism - 1970's, “Don’t believe anybody over age 30" Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Marian Anderson (called the greatest voice in a century); Nixon’s Watergate, Tom Hayden said of the 1970's “We ended a war, toppled two presidents, disintegrated the south--how could we accomplish so much and wind up with so little in the end?” (Newsweek, 9.5.88).
11. The 1980's continued the slide down the Slippery Slope - 1989-90 Eastern Europe, Death of Communism, Poland, Russia, Iran/Contra Scandal, S&L, Insurance, Banks, etc..
12. The 1990's - Desert Shield, Desert Storm (8.2.90, 1.16,17, 91), Bush’s “New World Order” the Middle East, Zaire, Kenya, South Africa, etc., CCIB fiasco, only one world class power left - leaving the killing fields.
The Boomerangers - the Generation at Risk - The Day America Told the Truth. Here we are sitting in the midst of the most self-centered generation in the history of the world. Only Jesus Christ can save us - even though we are “Riding First Class on The Titanic!”
13. 9.11.01, Iraq/Iran conflict - Middle East confrontation.
The Generation at Risk: The denial of non-negotiable truth and absolute ethical standards have----
I. Parenting Consequences: The Generation at Risk was “razed’ on Spock’s parenting theory--no negative reinforcement. His parenting influence produced the self-centered omnipotent child
II. Educational Consequences: Must enhance students’ market ability, i.e., career. It must cause little or no pain or negative feelings.
III. Legal Consequences: (1950's Law and Ethics separated)
A. Supreme Court removed prayer (1964) from America’s school system.
B. Supreme Court guaranteed abortion on demand at taxpayers’ expense (one and one-half million legal abortions annually at the cost of 16 billion tax dollars)
C. As neutrality is impossible, pluralistic relativism dominates deconstructionist theories of education, i.e., there are no classic books, ideas, etc.,; all ideas are equal in the universe of discourse, except Christianity. “Political Correctness” tyrannically controls education.
IV. Christian Consequences: Designer Churches to meet “Felt Needs.”
Conclusion: The Lion of The Tribe of Judah, deep magic from beyond time and the omnipotent child from the generation at risk. C.S. Lewis’s book, The Narnia Tales = Eustace Scrubb - from dragon to boy again through the magic wrought by the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
(Dr. James Strauss, Lincoln Christian Seminary, Lincoln, IL 62656)