Sunday, August 14, 2005

Gen X

Proverbs 29:18 (King James Version)

18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish”
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to young Americans lately. In many ways they’re like generations that have come before them, but there’s one thing I’ve seen that really alarms me. Many don’t seem to have any fire in their bellies. They just don’t seem to care.

I’ve talked to some folks who say that they’re just un-teachable, but I don’t believe for a minute that’s true. The fact is, they’re incurable learners and unfortunately they’ve learned their lessons well. They’ve been told for more than a generation that everything they see around them is just a cosmic accident and they’re just mirroring, in action, what they’ve been taught.

Bob Dylan expressed, prophetically, the things that are becoming the hallmark of this generation:

“We live in a political world
Where courage is a thing of the past
Houses are haunted, children are unwanted
The next day could be your last.”

How did they get to this awful place? It’s simple, really. They had mentors who expressed a modernist creed that told them that life was meaningless. They told them that they needed to shed the old doctrines of life and create new ones. They were taught well and they learned well.

This is the lesson they learned, as expressed by British journalist/poet Steve Turner:

“We believe that each man must find truth that is right for him,
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
Excepting the truth
That there is no absolute truth.”

“We believe in the rejection of creeds,
And the flowering of individual thought.”

With nothing to root themselves in, with nothing to believe but nothing, they’ve become bored with it all.

Read these words from Ernest Van den Haag, cited in Kenneth Myers’ “All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes,” and see if they don’t strike a frightening chord with you:

“Though the bored person hungers for things to happen to him, the disheartening fact is that when they do he empties them of the very meaning he unconsciously yearns for by using them as distractions. In popular culture even the second coming would become just another barren “thrill” to be watched on television till Milton Berle comes on. No distraction can cure boredom, just as the company so unceasingly pursued cannot stave off loneliness. The bored person is lonely for himself, not, as he thinks, for others. He misses the individuality, the capacity for experience from which he is debarred. No distraction can restore it. Hence he goes unrelieved and insatiable.”

Solomon was very wise when he penned the words of the twenty ninth proverb - without vision, people perish. I believe that’s what’s happening to many in America’s young generation.

We’re now at a place where the only thing that can turn this around is a massive infusion of vision. The Church must find a way to reach this generation and make the vision plain, so that those reading it may run with it. That’s the only thing that will break the curse their mentors have laid upon them.



web_loafer said...

Phil, Although you put it in words much better than I could ever hope too, I did write an article along the same lines. It was my blog about thanks.
Sorry for the shameless behaviour, of leaving a self serving link. Won't happen again. LOL


James Fletcher Baxter said...

VISION: The Fruit of Principle

Many problems in human experience are the result of
false and inaccurate definitions of humankind premised
in man-made religions and humanistic philosophies.

Human knowledge is a fraction of the whole universe.
The balance is a vast void of human ignorance. Human
reason cannot fully function in such a void; thus, the
intellect can rise no higher than the criteria by which it
perceives and measures values.

Humanism makes man his own standard of measure.
However, as with all measuring systems, a standard
must be greater than the value measured. Based on
preponderant ignorance and an egocentric carnal
nature, humanism demotes reason to the simpleton
task of excuse-making in behalf of the rule of appe-
tites, desires, feelings, emotions, and glands.

Because man, hobbled in an ego-centric predicament,
cannot invent criteria greater than himself, the humanist
lacks a predictive capability. Without instinct or trans-
cendent criteria, humanism cannot evaluate options with
foresight and vision for progression and survival. Lack-
ing foresight, man is blind to potential consequence and
is unwittingly committed to mediocrity, collectivism,
averages, and regression - and worse. Humanism is an
unworthy worship.

The void of human ignorance can easily be filled with
a functional faith while not-so-patiently awaiting the
foot-dragging growth of human knowledge and behav-
ior. Faith, initiated by the Creator and revealed and
validated in His Word, the Bible, brings a transcend-
ent standard to man the choice-maker. Other philo-
sophies and religions are man-made, humanism, and
thereby lack what only the Bible has:

1.Transcendent Criteria and
2.Fulfilled Prophetic Validation.

The vision of faith in God and His Word is survival
equipment for today and the future.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. Psalm 25:12 He is by
nature and nature's God a creature of Choice - and of
Criteria. Psalm 119:30,173 His unique and definitive
characteristic is, and of Right ought to be, the natural
foundation of his environments, institutions, and re-
spectful relations to his fellow-man. Thus, he is orien-
ted to a Freedom whose roots are in the Order of the

That human institution which is structured on the
principle, "...all men are endowed by their Creator with
...Liberty...," is a system with its roots in the natural
Order of the universe. The opponents of such a system are
necessarily engaged in a losing contest with nature and
nature's God. Biblical principles are still today the
foundation under Western Civilization and the American
way of life. To the advent of a new season we commend the
present generation and the "multitudes in the valley of
decision." selah

Let us proclaim it. Behold!
The Season of Generation-Choicemaker Joel 3:14 KJV

"Got Criteria?" See Psalm 119:1-176

James Fletcher Baxter said...

Challenge to the Mature

After 30 years in the classroom I am convinced that the personal example the teacher sets before the student is the single most important reason learning occurs. Example offers a behavioral definition of character that may determine a student's perception of his own value, the value of others, and reciprocal rights and responsibilities. Since emulation is both an early and an on-going learning method and because everyone passes through the hands of the teacher, the example of the teacher-leader is, I believe, fundamental to the successful human experience.
When standards are personalized and manifest in teacher conduct, the student's perception of other criteria for measuring other values and options prior to decision-making becomes more and more comprehensible. Such a comprehension may be considered critical to the student's personal ability to anticipate consequences of choice and ensure survival and progress.

Because decision-making is the proper domain of the mind in the hierarchy of the individual person (spirit/mind/body), it is essential that enlarged opportunities for observation and awareness be encouraged and available. Such opportunities go far toward raising the qualitative level of selectivity on the part of the student. Additionally, because selection occupies the fulcrum point of the creative process in the individual, it is essential that criteria be available to the intellect of the student in order that evaluation and progress will occur.

We are reminded that the unique individual person is the basic unit of value and a prime source of social values in a free society.

Consistent with a criteria concept and personalized value definition, the individual student should continually experience high levels of challenge, expectation, and goal orientation, eliciting and reinforcing standards of excellence. Such a conceptual environment teaches, encourages, and reinforces valid self-esteem.

It is thus that the teacher-leader completes the appropriate fulfillment of his role: Enabling the student to become a self-directed, responsible, choice-maker in freedom

* * *
1. Lead by Example. Be "out front." Practice the things you expect and/or demand. Be Transparent. Coercion and Control are not the same as Influence. Influence is preferred. Be your own "First Convert."
2. Always respect Boundary, Sovereignty, and Domain. Expect and require the same.

3. Keep your Priorities in Order. Allow them to govern your choices.

4. Define "rendering unto..." the owner. The owner
defines the Domain. The Boundaries.

5. Weakness is not humility or piousness. Act with courage - make assertions - take positions.

6. DO NOT BE CONTENT WITH MEDIOCRITY or "averageness." We are called to EXCELLENCE.
[Be 'hot' or 'cold.' 'Hot' is preferred.]

7. No one can be humble "on purpose" - as an act of will. Humility is the natural result of recognizing Superiority. Making awareness of Superiority [Quality] is our major task. When they "see' they will choose accordingly. Until then - you and they may struggle.

8. Do not patronize youngsters. Be more concerned with what they will think of you 20 years from now. Do not seek your own popularity. You will be vulnerable and they will spot it and may use it against you and your purposes.

9. Expect intelligence. Do not treat them as helpless. They will appreciate it and respond accordingly.

10. Have a sense of humor - especially about the things that are yours.

11. Share the "Social I.Q. Test." Q: "Can you tell the difference between what is yours to decide about and what is NOT yours to decide about?" Hmmmmm?

12. Give the youngsters opportunities to make Choices from among alternatives you supply. Encourage Creativity, Originality, and Responsibility.

13. ALWAYS measure Human Value by the Individual - never by a group or plural-unit. [Is there any other kind of human?] Groups are convenient verbalizations about Individuals - not Reality.

14. Build Individual Value and regard for each UNIQUE person. [Gold is valuable because it is RARE. How much more so the Unique Individual Person.] YOU are the ONLY you in the history of the universe! Rarity is value. [Quality is Value.]

15. Feelings of inferiority and inadequacy are often the engine that drives the "rowdy" machine. The Lord's 'price-tag' on each Individual will help to dissipate such problems.

16. Responsibility? No one will accept Responsibility above the level of their sense of Self-Value.

17. Discuss these suggestions openly. Allow opportunity for thought and incubation. Encourage them to re-articulate in their own words.

18. Respect EFFORT regardless of results. Even errors are learning experiences. Compliment - do not flatter. [However, do not equate Effort with Accomplishment.]

19. Remember, we are preparing them to go from making 0% of their own choices to 100%. It is a Process of Preparation.

20. Don't be afraid of making a "mistake" - as long as you're TRYING!

21. Learn ONE thing at ONE time. In this manner, anyone can learn anything! Don't try to learn it all at once. Be Teachable - learn one thing at one time.

22. Do not equate an Order with a Request.
A request implies a order does not. Your confusion will breed their confusion.

23. Don't call them 'kids.' Think Future. Rid your thinking and vocabulary of the term. Youngsters will tend to make choices and behave at the level of your expectation - up and/or down. Surprised?

24. "Do you prefer to be 'Bossed Around' or to
'Boss Yourself?' If you choose to be 'Bossed'
then don't complain - it's your choice. No whining."

25. Everyone has a "sacred conscience." It's OK
to differ on opinion - not personalities.

Gone Away said...

The point about boredom is a very telling one. I don't think there has ever been a generation such as this that complains at every turn and opportunity that it is bored. It seems to be a disease that has infected the young everywhere.

Oh, and while we're talking shameless self promotion, here's an article of mine on The Absolute Truth and one on teaching entitled Thank You, Johnny, Wherever You Are. Far be it from to ignore a trend! ;)

aerojad said...

I like your post but I must disagree. I would blame the current generation on a decline of the educational system in this country. It's easy to learn, but quite hard to push for much else, since everything now has been dumbed down to meet standards. I think it's a feeling of "we've won", whether that be a post WWII hangover, or a post Soviet-collapse hangover, but there seems to be no driving point - just continuing what is now. I think the solution has to do with science leading the way, inspiring people to dream again.

your son said...

Being a Gen Xer I would like to pose a question. Where does "vision" come from, and can one simply be given "vision" or must one be challenged to create their own "vision"? There have been no significant challenges for my generation. We've gone untested. Both World Wars, the Great Depression, the civil rights movement were all major challenges for their respective generations. Those challenges influenced people and shaped their vision. The most historically significant events of my lifetime are occurring in the present. These events are the ones that will test us. Over the last few years it already has. It has tested our resolve and our since of morality. The events of the last few years have also tested our political ideologies. Perhaps when these events become events of the past and not the present, we will have our vision.

4HisChurch said...

"Your son", I think you have an excellent point. I am at the tail end of the Baby Boom or the beginning of GenX. Our class in school was very apathetic, as I remember and I think your point about not having any real challenges at the right age, is a good one.