Friday, December 18, 2015

The Infantilizing Of America's Adults

In an era when we desperately need more adults in the room (a phrase I hate) we seem to find ourselves with the adult population mainly MIA.

You can buy footie pajamas sized for adults so you can snuggle on your beanbag chair and watch Tom & Jerry re-runs. Adult coloring books are all the rage which seems weird to me because I have no interest in coloring pictures of trees and elephants. The huge hit computer game Minecraft seems to attract as many adults as it does kids, an electronic version of building with Lego blocks. Then there is the granddaddy of them all, the opening of the Star Wars sequel that picks up the story that was put on pause for decades with Return of the Jedi and hopefully will erase the memories of the prequels.

Of course for many adults of my age and older the sight of Han Solo with his sidekick Chewie takes us back to a simpler era when we were kids. If you are under 30 you can't really imagine what it was like to sit in a dark theater and then seeing the Star Destroyer slowly roar onto the screen like it was coming in over your head. Nothing else was quite like it and it set a standard for sci fi movies for decades to come. I was six when Star Wars came out and it still holds a precious place in my upbringing. With the return of the original cast this promises to be a journey back in time for many adults. I understand the desire to go back because I often feel the same way. It is about more than just a movie, I think it strikes a nerve with a large percentage of the population.

At no time in our nation's history have we as a people yearned so deeply to go back. In prior generations "progress" meant a bright future. Today most of our "progress" makes us more tired, more busy and less happy. Many people mechanically buy the newest iPhone or other gadget knowing full well that the euphoria is going to be short lived. The future looks a lot like a place we don't want to live and our general fear of the future has contributed to the popularity of dystopian movies like The Hunger Games where a future America sacrifices children in a game where they are forced to kill each other. Boy the future doesn't sound so bright that we have to wear shades anymore.

Just take us back to a place where things were simpler, a time without wall to wall coverage of news 24/7, a time without constant clamoring for our attention from multiple sources. Depending on who wins next November we might be closer to a shooting war with the Russkies than at any time in the Cold War. Some Americans see what they believe is open season on people who look like them. Many others are in a state of constant fear from terrorists or criminals or the food they eat or, increasingly, from their own government. We are divided along political and class and race and religion like never before. Little wonder we want to slip on some footie PJs and hide in a dark theater where we can go to a galaxy that is far, far away.

Theaters can be an escape but sooner or later you have to come out of darkness and into  the light of day, into a world that is uncertain, unpleasant and unsettling. It is in this world that the church has been sent. These are the people that are frightened and backed into a corner. They have lost all faith in the social institutions that used to be comforting. We have something better to offer them and it isn't a place to sit on Sunday mornings to sing a couple of songs and listen to a sermon. It is life eternal in Jesus Christ. It is confidence that death holds no fear over us.

Go ahead and see The Force Awakens. I am going next week at some point. Just remember that while the world around us seems scary and we often wish we could go back, the future in Christ Jesus is infinitely better. Let that be our focus and our message.

No comments: