The Clash Of “Mindsets”: Structural Versus Relational

If I were a professional NFL football player quarterback, I would not want my team playing the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles who have been drummed as “the dream team”, particularly their defensive unit.  If I want to have “fun” playing football, I would like to play a team where “we would be playing on an even field” if I am to have any chance of succeeding and not being killed or a victim.  That is exactly how the twenty-teeners, those who will be in their twenties & thirties during the years of 2013-2019 feel.

Twenty-teeners get their pay checks only to find 40% of it missing to Social Security that they think they will never get, taxes, to help pay government debt they never got us into, etc,. plus a large chunk of their check to support an enormous health care system which raises rates faster than inflation or their income.  Since employers no longer want or can afford to support these huge systems, they opt for their employees to do so, the bottom of the corporate pyramid structure, the workers who are now twenty-teeners only starting their careers. Retirement systems, 401 Plans! What are they? Something twenty-teeners are to invest in with their left over money? What left over money? Financial security is not in their vocabulary.  Day to day survival is!

In my youth/young adulthood my parents told me that the American myth was that everyone was on an even plain no matter if you were rich and poor.  A “good education” and “hard work” could get you to rise in wealth and affluence in you lifetime to enjoy the retirement “you deserved”.  That myth has been busted for the twenty-teener.  “Higher” education only promises “higher” debt, large school debts to hang over their heads while they become parents. How are they to save for their children’s education. “Education” does not promise a job in the field for which you “borrowed” from your future. Hard work has also lost its theme, for hard workers are getting laid off, facing unemployment, and small business fights against corporate greed as huge corporations or larger industries gloat at “buying you out” or “merging” on their terms. Corporate “take-overs” are accepted business practices. I heard a financial analysis state that “merging is really the only way to make money anymore if you are in the power seat.”

My parents and my Baby-Boomer generations lived in an America where industry took care of you: provided wages for a decent lifestyle, vacation benefits, health care, and a pension.  Working today “secured” your future.  That is not the mindset of the Twenty-teeners who are fighting corporate America, a stagnant economic picture, while watching the industry sector shrink, and are asked to invest in a volatile Stock Market where the sharks will eat them alive, as if that is their future security. I had a 40 year career at one place; twenty-teeners do not think that will every be a possibility for them. My sons have had multiple jobs before they were 30, and the future and job markests even look more fluid to them.

All they are asking for is an even playing field, but all they see is obstacles. The Philadelphia Eagle defense is on the other side of their line of scrimmage saying, “Make my day!  Try running against me; try passing against me.  Good luck buster!” The playing field is not just slanted, but everything the twenty-teeners sees as success now looks uphill.  Can they ever have an even playing field? Hopelessness is beginning to permiate their world in spite of their hard work, their “training” and “educating.”  America is the best educated country in the world. Students from all around the world comes to our “institutions of higher education", but where has it gotten our twenty-teeners?

Why is this generation avoiding church?  The institutional church doesn’t even afford them an even playing field. As in my last blog, they find the church as a place where they have to “believe” in that church’s doctrine, dogma or tenants, “behave” according to that churches moral standards before being accepted as “belonging”.  They feel the church isn’t accepting them for who and where they are, and they refuse to put on a dishonest façade of “belief” and “behavior” just to “belong,” to win the church’s “acceptance”.  They just want to belong, be accepted, have worth and value in a world that is stripping them down.  They are looking for the church to “accept” them just where they are.  They just want a level playing field.

Why would my son rather play in a bar in front of a drunken crowd on a Sunday night rather than being in church where he was throughout his childhood and youth?  It is an even field! In a secular environment people don’t tell him how to play, what to play, but allows him “freedom” of expression and artistry; the church doesn’t, always posing limitations (music is too loud, drum wall please, to much bass, musical style not conducive to the likes of this congregation, etc.).  The secular world identifies with his music because they “belong” to the “scene” that is nonjudgmental; not so in the church who in house religious critics continually criticizes everything under its self posed moral standards.  The secular audience can critique his music as awesome or as crap, being honest.  You can’t critique the worship team that way in a church, nor be honest about it, just maintaining your smile while expecting to compliment it.  In the secular scene, when you are tired of his music, you can go home. In the religious world you are expected to stay out of respect and “reverence” no matter how painfully long the service lasts.   

In tomorrow’s blog, we will examine the “speed bumps” that cause an uneven playing field in church.