Enough cultural clout for the Boomers. They’ve wrought enough damage to succeeding generations.
So (sort of) says entertainment industry expert Barbara Nicolosi in a new analysis she was asked to write about the future of religions and their pastoral challenges, within her business, which is ultimately storytelling. The setup of the piece on her blog is Barb-like, and the Patheos column characteristically compelling. She and the young artists she applauds are daring “to buck the tired irony-cool cynicism that has shaped and stifled too much of the culture.” We’re changing the cultural guard, and it’s about time.
The Boomers’ exit from cultural influence creates a two-sided pastoral challenge for the 21st-century 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 like There 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.
Vicious stuff there.
But it presents an opportunity and a challenge.
As an institution charged with saving souls, the Church’s urgent outreach to fading Boomers must encourage them to face and take responsibility for the mistakes they have made. If they would be saved, the Boomer Generation must be guided into repentance for the way they self-righteously sacrificed all others as they fled from the simple heroism of adult human life. The rigid eradication of tradition, the gross materialism, the unbridled license, the embarrassing promiscuity — all always accompanied by shrill distortion and denial — have left our society disconnected, bloated, poorly educated, unable to trust, and simmering in resentment. I see many of my Millennial Generation students clamoring to set back the clock to a day before the Sixties, when there were grown-ups.
How’s that for a blast of clarity?
There’s more, much more. And it’s said, as everything said and done by Barb is, with the goal of reaching consciences and serving human dignity. Often, by startling.
History is devastatingly cyclical. The Boomers made the case that they should end their marriages and abort their children for the God Expediency. Their children, stripped of any attachment to a moral framework, will eye the old grey hairs, drooling and in diapers — but certainly still sneering — and consider expedient “Death with Dignity” to be a sensible and pragmatic policy. The Church must use all media to reach these new cultural power brokers, and to penetrate the commanding subconscious voices of their parents; she must teach them that the breakdown of the Boomers will require patience, heroism, and long-suffering.
And “the urgent need for forgiveness.” Because, as she so keenly points out, narcissism has too long trumped excellence.
Thanks for reminding us of Dostoevsky’s wisdom, Barb. We need beauty.