Blog Roundup – April
About a week ago, several colleagues shared a number of studies and surveys related to faith, millennials, and higher education. The data, specifically from the National Survey of Youth and Religion (NSYR), were fascinating but disheartening. I left with a few general conclusions about my own generation: by and large, we’re most passionate about credentialism (that is, building a strong resume) and having a good time. We have a tendency to eschew big questions about life, God and the world and instead embrace easy morality and faiths that make us feel good about ourselves rather than challenging us. These conclusions are broad generalizations that don’t apply to all millennials, but many of these components reflect the culture that surrounds emerging adults like me.
I’m frustrated and intrigued by the findings because I see so much of myself in them, and I don’t want to. Like the young people surveyed, I like to avoid things that demand too much or threaten my comfortable routine, even when I know that the God I claim to follow asks for so much more than I’m willing to give.
We’re about to enter graduation season, when luminaries much wiser than I will advise new graduates to change the world. But, and I say this for myself as much as for anyone else, world-changing doesn’t happen if our primary concerns revolve around our own comfort. Real change happens when people tackle the hard issues and questions of morality, roll up their sleeves, and dive right in. Only when we ask the difficult questions, and live into them like Kyle Anderson writes about this month, do we begin to make real change. Only when we confront the brokenness of the world, and lean into our discomfort instead of avoiding it, as Kaela Frank and Erica Shaps talk about, will that process of change swing into motion.
If I had one piece of advice to give graduating seniors, I’d say: embrace discomfort. Don’t take the easy way out. Wrestle with faith or secular traditions that ask you to confront your own shortcomings and that force you to consider how you contribute to the brokenness of the world, even if you end up not subscribing to them. Only then can we figure out how to be a part of repairing the world.
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