Century Marks

Coming of age in church: Novelist Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections) gives an account of his youth group experience at First Congregational Church in Webster Groves, Missouri, that is more about the awkwardness of adolescence than about God, spirituality or discipleship (New Yorker, June 6). His youth pastor, a student at Eden Theological Seminary, was “part Godfather and part Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” and “was mobbed by troubled kids who couldn’t tolerate their parents but still needed an adult in their lives.” The ethos of the group seemed to be shaped by the sensitivity movement of the time. “Everybody and his brother were doing drugs,” and six youths were called on the carpet during a service trip for drug use. Franzen describes himself as a nerdy kid on the fringe of the crowd, but by the time he was a sophomore he was chosen to serve on the group’s highly regarded advisory council.


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