Claiming Christ for Generation X
- Thursday, November 07, 2013
When were you born?
If you were born between 1961 and 1981, you’re part of North America’s Generation X. At 80 million strong, you’d think this generation would command a bit more respect than society tends to give it, but the oldest members of this group are now past 50, and hardy anybody has noticed.
Well, besides those Gen-X’ers who are turning the half-century mark!
As Californian Sara Scribner wrote for Salon.com in August, Gen-X’ers seem to be a forgotten generation, except when people want to compare it with the accomplishments of Baby Boomers, or the allure of Millennials. Remember the media frenzy when Boomers started hitting 50? Meanwhile, today’s new middle-agers are too busy trying to survive to spend much time bewailing their advancing age. Turning 50 today isn’t the same as when Boomers did.
In her article, a rather depressing overview of where Generation X is today and how it got there, Scribner says her cohort has been called "slackers" because they haven't been able to build upon the socioeconomic legacy of those celebrated Boomers. Why haven't Gen-X’ers been more prominent, creating their own mark on our world? Instead, almost everything in history’s past 50 years has basically happened to Gen-X’ers, not because of them.
"Downward mobility is a hallmark of this generation," writer and fellow Gen-X'er Neal Pollack tells Scribner. "I just feel like we’re not going to pull ourselves out of the hole. But what can you do?”
Of course, having secular writers bemoaning contemporary life without any apparent faith in Christ and His sovereignty is one thing. Yet, to a certain extent, can’t what they say about Generation X also be seen in Gen-X’ers who profess Jesus as Lord? To be sure, God is saving His people in Generation X to be salt and light in this time and place in world history. But frankly, it’s not turning out to be the best of times, is it?
Generation X is the most educated generation in world history, but they’re earning less than their parents did. Gen-X’ers have lived through 1987’s “Black Monday” stock market crash, the dot-com bust of 2000, the mortgage meltdown, the Great Recession, downsizing, offshoring, and now, the part-time employee trend. Say what you will about America’s widening income disparity, but Gen-X’ers are living it every day.
Time was, married people tended to fare better during a rocky economy, but Generation X was born into an era when failed marriages lost their social taboos. The divorce rate skyrocketed when Gen-X’ers were kids, and never sank when it came their turn down the aisle. Today, many Gen-X’ers are not only single by choice, but single again in frustratingly high numbers, both inside and outside the church.
Television journalist Tom Brokaw famously categorized the parents of Boomers as the "Greatest Generation," since they'd survived two catastrophic world wars and turned around to build the most rapid expansion of our economy in America's history. Of course, the Greatest Generation created some major problems that Boomers are passing on to Gen-X'ers, such as a Social Security Administration that has been woefully under-funded since at least 1982. After the Boomers are done with it, retirement will likely be a think of the past for Gen-X’ers.
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