Let Not the Hope of the Poor Be Taken Away Part 1: Barth and Generation Me

November 20, 2009

“She’s got a don’t mess with me attitude
She’ll close a deal – she don’t reveal that she can feel
The loneliness the emptiness
Except when she comes in here.
She’s the product of the Me generation…
and she yells Hell yeah!” – Montgomery Gentry

The “me generation” in a nutshell: we all feel empty and cover it up by yelling “hell yeah” all the louder. We’re the young people the church is falling all over itself to attract. We’re the ones she’s trying so hard to imitate lately. And I have to say- I’m a little offended.

Why in the world would the Church want to look like generation me? Not in word, but by her deeds the Church grimly admits that the me generation is unredeemable. The church seems to be masking it’s inability to make us look like the Church by making the church look like us. But by changing herself to look like us the church abandons us to be: self-obsessed, self- consumed, and ultimately– damned to ourselves, by ourselves, and for ourselves.

That is the result when the church believes it must mirror culture, must be an exact replica of the world, in order to “save” generation me. It’s as if the church fears dying so much, that she convinced herself she’s the one who needs us. She’s forgets that we’re the ones who need HER. All of a sudden the bride of Christ has started trying to attract a younger suitor, and she’s changing her clothes. She’s yelling things like, “hell yeah.”

Sixty years in advance, Karl Barth tackles generation me. He tackles us as the pinnacle of sin: the self made man, the man of sin. Neither this generation, nor the generations before fooled Barth with our delusions of individuality, our delusions that ultimately one can (and should) “have it your way.” No, he writes. Ultimately a man or woman having it their individual way is no more than sin: the progeny of Adam. There is only one way to be: the way of God who is Christ. There is only The Way- apart from Christ there is no my way, because there is no way at all.

For two thousand years the church has traveled by the narrow Way. Yes, yes, once you are on this way it becomes a “broad and royal road,” as St. Teresa says. But it is the narrow way because apart from the way of Christ, whose Spirit we affirm guides the church, there is no way at all. Suddenly though, the church seems to be trying to detour by way of generation me instead of simply building an on ramp to the Way, whom she worships, adores, glorifies, and imitates.

One Response to “Let Not the Hope of the Poor Be Taken Away Part 1: Barth and Generation Me”

  1. DMA Says:

    I think you have a point – big question Is how do you do two things:
    a. Get the church to start acting like the church
    b. Get the “me generations” to listen.
    note I used the plural because unfortunately I think self-obsession was already rampant in in us boomers.

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