In the July-August Harvard Business Review, Neil Howe and William Strauss suggest that generations born after a great war or other crisis tend to “grow up as increasingly indulged children, come of age as the narcissistic young crusaders of a spiritual awakening, cultivate principles as moralistic midlifers, and emerge as wise elders.”1 So far, Baby Boomers have mastered indulgence, narcissism and moralism. But “wise elders?” This might require reframing our view of faith, fame and forever.
Imagining… not emerging.
When we learned earlier this year that the U.S. population shot past 300 million, a great many of us began to feel the squeeze. Yet if the entire population of the United States moved to Texas, we’d each receive two acres. Hmmm… not so crowded now.
Only a slim slice of the population pie is drawn to the typical health club. It’s a small slice and not growing. Yet a new line of clubs, Curves, has become the fastest growing in the industry. Rather than competing within the confines of the existing industry or trying to steal customers from rivals, Curves reinvented the health club. They created what some have called a “blue ocean.”1 This might remedy some of Christianity’s modern day irrelevance – reinvent itself as a blue ocean faith.
An Orthodox rabbi asks a Reformed rabbi: “One of my congregants says his son wants a Harley for his bar mitzvah. What’s a Harley?” Reformed rabbi to Orthodox rabbi: “A Harley is a motorcycle. What’s a bar mitzvah?”
An important legacy of the Judeo-Christian faith is seeing the virtue of poking fun at our excesses. Think of Punch & Judy, Harvard Lampoon, Mad magazine, The Onion, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart or The Colbert Report. The idea is that religious success can ruin us by making us excessively (and insufferably) righteous. The safeguard is satire. It’s the reason why researchers note that Jews and Christians are less prone to fanatical extremism than Muslims. Islam doesn’t see satire as sacred.