We live in the land of all-you-can eat buffets. We entertain ourselves, so we never have to feel loneliness. Our celebrity culture brands ordinary people, so that we can keep consuming one another, never allowing space for loathesome humanity. We keep ourselves productive so we don’t have to mourn. If we fill our lives full with stuff, food, distraction and entertainment, we'll never even have to think about the emptiness.
Billy Graham’s 95th birthday party last week was a heartwarming event—and a media spectacle. Most accounts of the celebration emphasized the star-studded guest list. Even in his golden years, Graham has not lost his golden touch: an aura of wholesome Christian patriotism that appeals to entertainers looking to transcend showbiz as well as to culture warriors on the make.
The reporters who covered the party provided a window into Graham’s lasting power as a cultural icon, but they largely missed his significance to American Christianity.
In my work, I get to have conversations with college students about vocation and calling. One of the things I suggest to them is that all Christians have the same calling and vocation—to love God and to love our neighbor. We talk quite a bit about how small actions matter. God can use small actions for good. And we may not know what the effects of our action were.
When it comes to weirdly argued crankiness, tsk-tsk-ing about lazy, entitled millennials is a pretty competitive field. But Jennifer Graham's piece last week stands out from the pack:
In colonial times, nine out of 10 people worked on food production, hence John Smith’s famous edict at Jamestown: “He who works not, eats not.” (There was no enabling 99-cent value menu then.) The millennials, alas, are trophy kids, a generation spawned not for their usefulness at harvest but because they look so precious in those matching pajamas from Hanna Andersson.
No need to respond to most of this, because in the millennial retort category—another tough bracket—we already have a winner.