Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dear Generation

Okay...this is written to no one in particular, and yet to some very specific people.  Indeed, it's written to me, too.  I often get very frustrated with my generation, of which I am a part.  I need to let some loose right now, and this serves as my venue for today.  This is complaint...and confession.

Dear Generation:

It's not nearly as bad as your whining makes it out to be.  Well, it might be, but it's likely your own fault.  I don't really think that my grandparents are watching me from the sky right now, but when I entertain the idea, I get embarrassed.  I get embarrassed for the same reasons that I would if some of those little kids in the third world countries we see on commercials and websites came to live with me ("You mean you really pay money for water in a bottle when you can get it for free out of that shiny pipe?").

You know all the toys, gadgets - even the gifts you've given to me - that make our lives better and easier?  Yeah, well...they don't.  They only make us insatiable for more: more chaff, more plastic, and more emptiness. Yeah, yeah, I know...they were gifts: I should be appreciative of your "generosity."  Well actually, it's most likely that you bought the gifts with someone else's money, so whatever tickles your "charitable" heartstrings.

Oh, and speaking of debt...I don't want to hear about it.  It's your own fault.  Yeah, yeah...good things like college and weddings cost more than they used to.  That's BEE-ESS.  Your generation (and you too, boomers) are still living off the backs of three generations behind us.  Sure, a recession here or there in the last couple of decades have been "tough"...but we don't really know tough times.  At least, any tough times have likely been brought on by our own ignorance and false, puffed-up "hope."

Some of us get it - sometimes even I do...in swift and rare moments of grace and divine revelation.  We've got real people sacrificing throughout the world or even in the poorest places in our own land.  But most of the rest of us look back upon a week or month or two of college in South America or Eastern Europe and think we may have just served our time.  Sad, really.

And there are some in our generation who have truly really been hurt.  They have real reason to whine, you know, because they were brutally abused as a child or were truly impoverished (and just because your family owned a Pinto or Rabbit or lived in a small house, it does not qualify you for poverty; after all, you had a car and a house).  I know these people because they abound all around us.  If you'd stop whining about yourself, you might actually get to know about them.  And what I've found is that these who've been truly hurt or disadvantaged actually work a ton harder than you do.  They get it.

And the band Arcade Fire gets it.  Well, one of their songs at least does.  Here it is:

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Somethin' filled up my heart with nothin', someone told me not to cry.
But now that I'm older, my heart's colder, and I can see that it's a lie.

Children wake up, hold your mistake up, before they turn the summer into dust.
If the children don't grow up, our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up.
We're just a million little gods causin' rain storms turnin' every good thing to rust.

I guess we'll just have to adjust.

With my lightnin' bolts a glowin' I can see where I am goin' to be
when the reaper he reaches and touches my hand.

With my lightnin' bolts a glowin' I can see where I am goin’
With my lightnin' bolts a glowin' I can see where I am, go-go, where I am

You'd better look out below
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Yeah, that's right: we're just a million little individualistic self-serving gods causing rain storms, turning every good thing into rust.  Yes...I'm ticked off.  I'm ticked off at you and I'm ticked off at myself for being one of you.

Oh, and all of you who "love Jesus" and who are still in the Church, or at least feigning some kind of semblance of being so...could you pick something and stick with it (for community's sake, is there such a thing as sacred time and space? Just because Mickey Mouse is on when the church gathers or because your sister's cousin's mother's co-worker's friend is in town that weekend...oh, forget it...God forbid that you'd actually bring them with you.)?  If Jesus were this fickle, we'd all be screwed.  If you're still waiting for this rock star to show up to preach or this one to lead worship, perhaps you should actually read the Bible and note that God raises up in each generation not from the great ones, but from the weak ones: guys and gals who have nothing upon which to rely but God Godself.

Oh, and for all of you who aren't in the Church and whine about her whorishness and lack of like-Christness, do you think that you're the first generation to notice?  Ever heard of this guy?  Or this guy?  This guy? Maybe this one?  Or perhaps this one?  Each of them were pretty ticked at the state of God's people and yet did what they could to effect change rather than wallowing in self-pity.

And speaking of that last guy, perhaps the next time you get ticked because the music's wrong, or the slight details of the lyrics aren't theologically pleasing, or the pastor doesn't feed you or isn't cool enough, or you don't like how someone looked at you, or it's boring, or whatever else...just take a look at his example...you know, how he stormed away from the Temple, refused to participate in the local synagogue, and wouldn't engage the religious leaders (oh...wait...he tried to change the Temple system, was found in the synagogue all the time, and always engaged the religious leaders rather than sulking off in the distance).  As he said, "If you love me, you will love my people."

In my vilest of moments, I sometimes wonder what would happen if we really did enter into a period of tough times, like an actual Great Depression 2 and not just a "Kinda-Depression-of-2009"...I may even wish for it sometimes.  Seems like if that were to happen, only then would we really know what it is to suffer, and thus...to know Christ.

In kinder moments, I excuse a lot of you due to the fact that you have indeed been lied to.  But I believe that humanity is better than that...that deep down, we know.  And in moments of life, each of us has had a choice to do right, to sacrifice, to say "no" to more.  Yet time and again, we continue to buy and continue to make choices or whine according to our own needs and vantage points.


"Oh, but I do want community!"  No you don't.  You want conformity.  You confuse the two.  The latter demands to be with those who are the same.  The former chooses to be with those who aren't.  

Take out your buds, put your iPod down, and take a look at the world around you.  No, not just the Kiva website or the picture of the Compassion International Child who gets $20 every two weeks or so and thus fulfills your quota, but I mean the people who are actually around you.  Enter into their presence with thanksgiving.  Empty thyself of all you have that you might see things from their vantage...and thus the vantage of Christ.

I'll do it as soon as you do.

[only ever] Thinking about joining the Old Order Mennonites,
With all my love (as long as you do what I like, too, of course),
A sinner like you,

Jeremy

3 comments:

  1. hush ... u'r scarin' the kids!

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  2. Amen, Brother Jeremy. After listening to Holy Conferencing and messages by Rudy Rasmus of Houston, TX, your messages reminds me of what you say here. I happened to talk personally with Pastor Rudy and mentioned people with intellectual disabilities and he asked me what is the next step beyond what Matthew Ministries and his church is doing. I simply stated I do not know because I am not an expert in people with disabilities, but only living my life, as Debra Smith said. It is full inclusion in church and life similar to L'Arche, but more. What is the next step? Lord, Help me. From the Father who was a migrant farm worker to a mother who raised three children on welfare to a man raising a son with disabilities seeking God's way for His church and me. The Kansas East Annual Conference was inspiring and encouraging for me, but I ask myself What is next?
    Shalom & Agape,

    Gary Lee Parker

    Check out Mark Farner's "Love from Above". I will attempt to send through You tube and face book to you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow.... you seem a little angry and a little all over the place.....just breathe....... calm down........relax.......

    careful not to generalize and lump a whole generation into one rant. Just be more positive. I am seeing some of our generation come around.

    ReplyDelete