Thursday, 22 April 2010

A typology of generations

I reckon you could write a moral history of the past hundred years using a denominational typology. The past four generations would be described like this:

  • Our great grandparents had their homely Catholic piety.
  • Our grandparents had their Calvinist work ethic.
  • Our parents had their Anabaptist political zeal.
  • Bereft of all the above, today we have a vague sense of Unitarian irony.
And if you follow this trajectory a little further, I'm afraid there's only one logical conclusion: our children will grow up to be atheist assholes.

32 Comments:

Anonymous said...

So, you mean a sort of blog progression like:

1) Whispers in the Loggia
2) Between Two Worlds
3) Inhabitatio Dei
4) AUFS?

in said...

And it was in the days of sci-fi that people first refused to call on the name of the Lord.

Thomas said...

Another way to think of it is the legacy each generation is leaving the next. Generations 2 & 3 in particular have left us with environmental, economic and militaristic problems that threaten the very existence of life on this planet.

Thinking of the next generation as atheist assholes actually gives me a lot of hope. If solutions to these problems and the will to implement them is to be found, I'm banking on these atheistic assholes to do it (with an assist from the Unitarians).

Of course the atheist assholes will leave their own problems behind.

Anthony Paul Smith said...

Nostalgic much?

Also, none of us our unitarians and none of us ascribe to irony. Adam has a whole book about irony as a counter-productive political orientation. Christ guys. Just cause you don't like us and because we're not pseudo-Catholic conservative fucks doesn't mean we fit really nicely into some stupid typology.

Steve Martin said...

"Atheistic assholes"

I think that is pretty accurate.

The sameness and group think of these assholes cracks me up. And they think they are so independent.

What a joke.

Adam Kotsko said...

I think that Unitarians utterly lack irony, actually. They're some of the most literal people I've ever met (especially how literally they take the idea that "it's all metaphor").

Ben Defoe said...

So often people criticize any critique of the now by dismissing it as Nostalgia, as if somehow this is an argument against it? Let's not call it Nostalgia, a more theologically meaningful term would be repentance. We repent of the shit we've done and we'd like to stop doing it. This won't re-create the past, it will though lead to a future that will look more like it. All the 'Nostalgia' critiques against Post Liberalism and Radical Orthodoxy etc etc are not nearly as powerful as those who offer them believe.

Brian Lugioyo said...

That's funny.

Ben Myers said...

Hey Anthony, you know my post had nothing to do with AUFS — I assume the first commenter was just kidding around. And besides, I actually like you guys!

Anthony Paul Smith said...

"This won't re-create the past, it will though lead to a future that will look more like it."

Why would you want the future to look like the past?

Ben,

Yeah, I understood it had nothing to do with us, just the first guy got to me. It's been a bad couple of days, sorry.

Ben Myers said...

And I agree with the criticism of nostalgia. It's true that I wrote this post in a rather ironic/nostalgic mood — but in a more serious mood, I've also written a long article ("Barth and Contemporary Paganism") against theological and environmental nostalgia.

Fred said...

Newman paraphrased!

roger flyer said...

I was raised Unitarian. I always wondered what it was I learned in those years. Now I know. Irony.

in said...

I'm fascinated how what a few are responsible for, steam, motor, and air power etc gets seen as the work of a whole generation, is it down to democracy conning us we're all responsible or just the total effect of being carted off to state concentration camps from the age of 4.

Anonymous said...

And at last we have the wall to wall toxic garbage spewed out every day on the blogs at First Things.

JKnott said...

We can't control our kids; trying to just exacerbates whatever real problems they will have. The same goes for one's parishioners or constituents. Try to get something right yourself.

"Now is the day of salvation"--Paul
"This is our last dance" Bowie and Queen

And relax, Ben; your kids will all be fundamentalists anyway.

Ben Defore said...

APS - I'd like the future to share some things of the past as I haven't heard any coherent refutation of the thesis of Catherine Pickstock's After Writing yet. I'd like to recover some of the understandings that have been lost.

myles said...

After Writing? If that were actually the way things happened, then sure, her thesis could stick.

Ben Defoe said...

If you get shot in the head and someone says that you are dead because you were hit by a fast flying wasp it doesn't mean that they're not right about you being bereft of life, an ex.. well, you know. people dispute the "how it happened" of Pickstock's story but no one has ever offered a coherent argument such that things are now how she portrays them as being now nor against the fact that things used not be as she portrayed them in the past.

Anthony Paul Smith said...

Ben,

I get the sense that you have a very idiosyncratic standard of what counts as a "coherent argument". I also don't really see what Pickstock's "story" says that is accurate to the actual world... so this is probably a differend, but it's always fun to talk to an ideologue.

roger flyer said...

APS=
Are you calling Ben an idealogue?

Ben Defoe said...

I don't believe you're being honest APS, just looking for an excuse for an attack in place of any coherent argument which, on the evidence of what I've read of you, you're not bright enough to offer. What bothers me is that it's an attack on the first thousand years of Christianity as what you're finding unrealistic ('ideologue') in Pickstock is nothing less than the faith of the Church in the past and for many millions of us today too. Blog posts do facilitate smug, cliched, triteness - "Nostalgic Much?", and name calling, "ideologue" - in place of argument, but they need not. You could offer actual critique, I could learn something from you and have benefitted from conversation. But uncharitably you've foreclosed on this possibility and so now I'm just annoyed and won't post again and you, after reading this, will be annoyed although, I assume, will. We could benefit from your posts though if you were charitable enough to offer arguments in future. I suppose what I'm trying to say, and stumbling over my words while trying, is - you don't have to be an arsehole.

Anthony Paul Smith said...

"I don't believe you're being honest APS, just looking for an excuse for an attack in place of any coherent argument which, on the evidence of what I've read of you, you're not bright enough to offer... I suppose what I'm trying to say, and stumbling over my words while trying, is - you don't have to be an arsehole."

I've been in these sorts of things that go round and round, while both sides demand the other provide an argument. It's usually pointless and, based on the evidence, I very much doubt you're interested in anything other than assumed correctness of what you already believe. So, let's just leave it there.

Paul Tyson said...

Getting right back to the generational thing… it seems to me that atheism is not going to take off for my kids generation. Perhaps the new evangelical atheism of Dawkins et al is a kind of fundamentalist reaction to the collapse of a particular world view – the world view where reductively materialistic ‘scientific’ truths were broadly believed by mainstream high culture and thus a sort of ‘secular realism’ shaped our education, politics and behavioural norms. That is, I am suggesting that the rise of Evangelical fundamentalism in the 1920s was produced by much the same sort of forces as the rise of our present dogmatic and proselytising atheism, as they both worry deeply that the whole world is going to sink into immorality and idiocy because the truths our fathers believed are no longer taken seriously. I think the new atheism may well prove to be a type of futile conservativism harking back to the heady days of 19th century progressivism, which did indeed sweep all religious ‘superstition’ and ‘regressive’ Christian morality and traditional social order before it. But the irrealism of popular culture just isn’t interested in scientific truths, and the ‘big picture’ meaning shallowness of our technologically powerful spiritually vacuous culture, generates a bizarre yearning for custom built ‘consumable spirituality’, and superstition has really never looked healthier in the West. But, for us ‘religious’ types, here is the rub. Modern Western religion has indeed been gutted by progressive secularism and the popular culture industry, and the generational slide that Ben sketched is well born out in hard demographics in a country like Australia. So, even though secular humanism – embedded in the truth vision of modern science – is falling, falling, fallen… it seems that it has largely taken Western Christianity down with it. Where to from here? Who knows!

roger flyer said...

Paul-Enter the Holy Spirit who blows where He will blow...even if us brilliant ones won't believe.

Alex said...

Yup, AUFS is filled with 'secular materialism', like the fact that one of the main posters of the blog (Adam Kotsko) has a book forthcoming on atonement theory that engages with all the classical figures of this tradition. Right.

Paul Tyson said...

Yes, Roger, that is my apocalyptic hope too.

Adelaide University Film Society said...

What's the deal with that first guys comment?

Another Union File System said...

I'm not sure, but I figure he didn't check the top Google hits for AUFS like we did.

Another Union File System said...

I'm not sure, but I figure he didn't check the top Google hits for AUFS like we did.

Anthony Paul Smith said...

"I don't believe you're being honest APS, just looking for an excuse for an attack in place of any coherent argument which, on the evidence of what I've read of you, you're not bright enough to offer... I suppose what I'm trying to say, and stumbling over my words while trying, is - you don't have to be an arsehole."

I've been in these sorts of things that go round and round, while both sides demand the other provide an argument. It's usually pointless and, based on the evidence, I very much doubt you're interested in anything other than assumed correctness of what you already believe. So, let's just leave it there.

Adelaide University Film Socie said...

What's the deal with that first guys comment?

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