Enough With 1968, Already

It both pains and amuses me that we talk constantly about ministering to the younger generation but continue to use sermon illustrations that always and forever reach back to the past, to a time before they were born, and assume that they should give a holy crap.

It is not a shared, ancient past — it is a very specific moment in the past with which the preacher him or herself identifies and locates all sense of personal relevance. The implication being, you should all find this relevant, too.

Boomer ministers, I’m calling you out on this one. Even I, a middle-aged minister, was a tiny child when MLK was assassinated. There have been other outrages since then, other moments of national shock, other opportunities for coming of age as a person of conscience. I urge you to consider those and to collect stories from other sources beyond your own personal experience so that we don’t get yet another liberal religious sermon that presumes the JFK/MLK moments are a bonding experience for us all.

I wasn’t even born when President Kennedy was killed. In 1968 I was pre-verbal and in diapers.

The dead horse has been beaten to a second death. Please stop trying to locate all meaning around your generation’s most traumatic moments. The implication of this insistence on returning again and again to 1968 is that history has provided no equally powerful moments for this nation’s soul, and for the individual soul.  Deep people can be made in many kinds of moments — let’s hear about some different ones for a change.

The fact that this trope has become an outright joke among the 20-30 clergy crowd I  “hang out with” (via digital ministry) is one warning sign that the pathos of that moment of spiritual awakening has been used up, used out, and is now a sign of dry bones.

“Good God,” wrote a 27-year old to me recently. “Don’t they have anything else to freaking write or preach about?”

Good question. And one that the Church needs to answer if it is going to minister in an inclusive way to the next generation.


[I don’t feel like dealing with the onslaught of defenses, abuse and accusations tht I am unfairly generalizing that will no doubt be heaped upon my head for this, so comment away, but I won’t read them. – PB]

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