Are you there, God? It’s me, Generation X

Are you there, God? It’s me, Generation X is the title of an essay I’ve been working on about the emerging church. I like it so much, I’ve decided to replace my former blog name, “Generation X: Memoir and Revelation,” with this new title. Obviously, it’s rooted in the book practically every Generation X female read in her youth, Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret.

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According to Mark Sayers, the emergent movement is a Generation X phenomenon.

Sayers is an Australian who wrote, Trouble with Paris: Following Jesus in a World of Plastic Promises. He is the leader of Red East in Melbourne, an “innovative Christian community specifically reaching the young adult demographic.”

Sayer contends that the Emerging Church is a reaction to mass culture and not a theological movement. As I strive daily to study and understand the teachings of Jesus, I become more and more interested in this movement.

As a young girl attending Southern Nazarene University, I was very inspired by a visitor to our campus one semester. His name was Tony Campolo and he came to speak in chapel. Last February, he was interviewed on the Colbert Report. I am currently reading Campolo’s book, Red Letter Christians. The word “red” refers to Christ’s words in the Bible, which are frequently printed in red.

His Web site says this about the book:

Over the past couple of decades, Evangelical Christians have often been associated with the Religious Right and the most conservative positions of the Republican Party. Rebelling against this designation are those who prefer to be called Red Letter Christians, desiring to live out the red letters of Jesus’ words in the New Testament. Believing that Jesus is neither a Republican nor a Democrat, Red Letter Christians transcend partisan politics and concentrate on issues viewed critically through a moral and biblical lens.

Dr. Campolo, who is the former president of Eastern University, St. David’s, Pennsylvania, had a major influence on Shane Claiborne a founding member of the New Monastic community Potter’s Street Community. He has written a book called the Irresistible Revolution, and is strongly associated with the emergent movement. His commitment to the teachings of Christ are quite challenging as he believes in non-violence and redistribution of resources to the poor.

Some visitors to this blog may be interested in a blog I discovered a few weeks ago, Emergent Nazarenes. I haven’t had time to dive very deep into it, but have read a few posts and comments. See what you think.

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I read a book review today of Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. The review was written by the blogger, Middle Age Ramblings. Here are two take aways:

“…What is more pertinent is becoming conscious to use writing as a tool, ‘to live as if we are dying.’”

“…Tell the truth,” she urges. “If you’re a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act – truth is always subversive.”


33 Responses to “Are you there, God? It’s me, Generation X”

  1. Anonymous

    The scariest scripture in the Bible is directed at Christians.

    “Depart from me you that practice lawlessness. I never knew you” – Jesus

    You don’t just read the Red Letters. If you talk it you have to walk it.

    Reply
  2. jenX67

    @Joe Moody – Hi, Joe. I’m glad to make your acquaintance. Your project Web site sounds like just what we need. I’ll check it out. Thank you for the nice comments. There are several people out there now blogging consistently about Gen X. I know they’ll really appreciate this. My hope is to just increase the dialogue. It seems like the logical first step, and it sounds like your blog/site will do just that. Thanks, again!

    Reply
  3. Joe Moody

    Jen, I serendipidously discovered your blog through Dave’s GenXFiles, gratefully so — the title of the piece says it all. Great to find another Gen X blogger out there giving a voice to the generation.

    I’m helping with a new website that’s promoting choice Gen X blogger feeds, the idea is to have a free website where people can view various Gen X feeds. The site also links back to each person’s original blog, giving Gen X bloggers more exposure. Consider adding your the RSS Feed of your blog at http://www.PolitiChill.com

    ps: love the Irish music

    Reply
  4. Yogi♪♪♪

    Well my next research project is the emergent church. I have never heard of it before I read your post. It sounds intriguing.

    Reply
  5. jenX67

    @Cat – Wow! I hardly remember giving that to you, if at all. I Thank you for the reminder. I did love the book very much.

    Reply
  6. Cathrine

    Just so you know, you were the one that gave me my first (and only) copy of “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret” when I came out for a visit when I was about in the fourth grade. Loren’s niece was there as well, and I just remember lying on the floor in my sleeping bag, unable to put it down. Thanks for that.

    Reply
  7. jenX67

    @Mom – Thanks for the reminder about that small sign behind the pulpit. I love you, mom. You are an angel.

    Reply
  8. jenX67

    @Naomi – I’d love to hear your perspective on this from the Jewish perspective. I think I shared with you (?) about the first dedication of a Judaic building in OKC in 50 years – just last September – The Chabad.

    @Lisa Paul – That is kind of ICK. Did he really just pick his friends? Was this just a way of building followers for his friends’ blogs? Surely not. If that is the case, how disappointing…Thanks for stopping by. I thought about emailing him. Maybe I should have done that instead of used the forum. At any rate, I appreciate the fact that someone was listening and shared my thoughts about the project. And, at least I found FeverBee, Kristin and Zoe in the process.

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    Jen–

    Another FANTASTIC post. You really touch the HEART of the wondering soul. I look forward to reading your essay.

    Penile Mission (now closed) in downtown Los Angeles was a “Labor of Love.” Many a guest preacher (your dad included) stood behind its pulpit — A quiet reminder was posted where only the speaker could see: “Sir; We would see Jesus.”

    True — “The truth will set you free.

    Hugs– Mom

    Reply
  10. Oklahoma Farmgirl

    Jen, you are a truly gifted writer & our insight into this subject is truly inspired-spiritually from the Highest on High!

    I have to agree, TR, about following Jesus anywhere except through the church door. I do miss the fellowship & worship in a church that is truly Word based & teaches about Jesus & His great love. I just find this so sadly lacking in the churches I have attended in the last few years.

    Thanks Jen for a powerful post. Your calling is evident. Keep up the good work & the paper is anxiously awaited.

    Many blessing today & everyday dear girl…to you & your lovely family.

    Blessed be…

    Reply
  11. Lisa Paul

    Thanks for your insightful comments on Chuck’s forum. Both MA and I have sent the same concerns to Chuck in private emails to no avail. I’ve continuously suggested possible featured bloggers who are diverse AND blog every day. But I think Chuck just features a tight little circle of his own friends.

    And Betty was spot on about Johnny Truant. What a tool.

    (atweed on forums)

    Reply
  12. jenX67

    @Miruspeg – Thank you – and, yes, Caroline has a wonderful blog. You are going to have an awful lot of people to meet when you come to Oklahoma. LOL!

    Reply
  13. Naomi Munn

    Hey Jen…fascinating post. I like the title change. It’s not just about Christianity…other religions are experiencing the same shift. GenerationX is not willing to accept the status quo. But we’re also, at the same time, willing to explore deeper issues associated with God and community and hopefully our congregations will see us as a resource rather than a barrier to worship. I like the quote about truth being subversive — but if anyone is going to tell the Emperor he has no clothes it WILL be a GenX writer. ;)

    Reply
  14. miruspeg

    You are ever evolving Jen and I think you are brilliant.

    When I read the book I thought of you and Caroline (Zen in you) as you are both excellent writers and wanted to share Anne Lamott’s wisdom on that subject. Also the book has an added bonus as she writes about about motherhood, finding God and dying gracefully.

    Thanks for promoting the book and linking it to my post….I know the blog community will enjoy it immensely.

    Hugs
    Peggy

    Reply
  15. jenX67

    @Kristin – I meant to thank you for the awesome comment you left on my post about Chekov, etc. I get sidetracked. It was very nice, and made me feel like I wasn’t completely crazy. =S

    I think you are probably right – that it is viewed by many as both -as a theological movement and a response to mass culture. Certainly, Claiborne’s contribution as well as Campolo’s would be theological. Even though I’ve read quite a bit, I still feel like I don’t know very much about it.

    Reply
  16. jenX67

    @cari – i’m so glad to make the Nazarene connection with you. i’d love to hear more about the church you attend.

    Reply
  17. jenX67

    @loren – you have an amazing blog, and for some reason, i haven’t visited it in awhile, and so i’m glad you left a comment. sometimes, i skip around on my follow thingy, and in the process miss people. sorry about that. i just realized i haven’t been to your blog in awhile.

    Reply
  18. jenX67

    @loren – “verbal streaking” that really says it all – here i am, stripped down and bare – revealing my thoughts and making myself completely vulnerable. there are 1,000 things i’d like to write about on my blog, but only one i’m willing to verbally streak for, and that would be the faith walk.

    Reply
  19. jenX67

    @Okie Sister – It can be so disappointing to attend churches where you hear nothing of Jesus. I could devote an entire blog to this subject. It is an incredible IRONY.

    Reply
  20. jenX67

    @James – You’re welcome! I will continue to follow your site, and yes, when I’m finished with the essay, I will post it. It’s taken so much longer than I thought it would…

    @TR – your comments mean more than I can say in a comment box on this blog. They are a blessing and gift from God. I know this is true! And, how interesting the connections with Sulustu and Jean. “In the stars His handiwork I see…”

    Reply
  21. jenX67

    @Robert – you help me more than you will ever know. =)

    @Rebecca – Beck – that is a terrific story about dad. I’m so glad you shared it. That comment is post-worthy. As I recall, dad ministered to a lot of drunks at Peniel Mission, too. He has no idea how much he influenced all of us…

    Reply
  22. Kristin T. (@kt_writes)

    I love the “Are you there, God?” reference, and all of the things you are turning over in your mind.

    I’m curious–has anyone said the Emergent Church movement is both a reaction to mass culture AND a theological movement? It seems to me it could be both, since theology is meant to interact with culture.

    I have to admit, I feel in line with many “emergent church” thinkers, but I haven’t studied the so-called “movement” much at all. (Could God please give me about four more hours in each day?)

    Reply
  23. Cari

    Interesting! As a 3rd generation nazarene who now attends what would be considered an “emerging church” I hadn’t heard the red letter christian term before. Thanks for sharing. Also will be checking out emerging nazarenes.

    Reply
  24. Loren Christie

    Hi Jen,
    Love the last quote about truth…and I’d like to add that writing the truth feels like verbal “streaking.” The new title is great.

    Reply
  25. Poetikat

    I think your new title is ideal. You always astonish me.
    I’ll check out the Emerging blog.

    Kat

    P.S. (you might like my latest poem, since you’ve been following a bit.)

    Reply
  26. okiesister

    Jen,
    I totally related to what you are saying here. Even though I am offically a Baby Boomer, I have asked many times, “Doesn’t any church preach about Jesus anymore?” We’ve visited several looking for a home and finally gave up. All manner of subjects are talked about in church these days (my least favorite is politics). I always ask, “And exactly where in the Bible does it say that?” Too many church leaders are preaching their own opinion or agenda.
    I’ve never heard the term Red Letter Christain before.
    I like it!
    Lynna

    Reply
  27. T.R.

    Jen, another home run. I don’t know how you do it – but you seem to have a remarkable ability to tap into a larger conscience that we all share and struggle with. Normally I love to follow Jesus anywhere – stopping only at the church door. Some days, when you write, it seems possible to follow him even there. That’s the remarkable power of your writing – and the promise of being a red-letter Christian in a blue state.

    Yours is an extraordinary voice and you are a remarkable Oklahoman – one that I am very proud to call neighbor.

    Reply
  28. James Diggs

    Thanks for the Emergent Nazarene plug. You should post your essay when you’re finished so we can read it.

    I am not sure I agree with Mark Sayers assessment of the emerging church, but I wouldn’t rule out all his observations. He seems particularly attuned to youth culture.

    Anyway, thanks for the good post, and your comments over on emergent nazarenes.

    Peace,

    James

    Reply
  29. Rebecca

    Jen…I visited the LINK in this Post…very interesting…

    As you know, before you were born dad pastored the Galveston Nazarene Church (1966-67). I remember one Sunday Night a man we didn’t know walked into the church after the service had already started. He was obviously drunk and was loud, etc. I remember being a tiny bit afraid as he was swaggering and unclean…

    I will NEVER forget the actions of our father when the man went down to the altar to pray. Daddy stayed with him, praying over him all the while lifting up his very soul to a healing, loving Jesus. I was only 7 or eight at this time but this experience made a HUGE impact on me… Maybe the man knew where he was and was helped, maybe he didn’t. Regardless, our father did the right thing…

    I sent you a St.P’s graphic that reminds me of Bridgy…check your email for it.

    B

    Reply
  30. Anonymous

    Absolutely right, Christ is about mercy and love… Politcal affiliations, hang ups and cliques were never mentioned as a requisit of a Christian.
    Robert

    Reply

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