No assumptions

Thinking about UU Emergence (an awkward term, but there it is) means thinking about what will draw emerging generations to our churches. I remember when I was a 20-something attending a UU church, many of the cultural references in sermons had no emotional resonance for me: I didn’t get why the Korean War was fought, I didn’t remember the day JFK was shot, etc. Fast forward two decades: now I read Beloit College’s very useful Mindset List, which attempts to help us older folks understand the worldview of this year’s 18-year-olds:

Beloit College’s Mindset List® for the Class of 2011:

Most of the students entering College this fall, members of the Class of 2011, were born in 1989. For them, Alvin Ailey, Andrei Sakharov, Huey Newton, Emperor Hirohito, Ted Bundy, Abbie Hoffman, and Don the Beachcomber have always been dead…. [etc….]

Beloit’s list is a little tame. Over on the blog Charlie’s Diary, Charles Stross and commenters offer their own additions to the Beloit College list, often from a U.K. perspective:

Nobody they know expects to ever hold a job for more than three years.
Homosexuality has always been legal. Abortion has always been legal….
Nobody they know who is under 36 and not already a home-owner expects to ever be rich enough to buy a house….

Not that preachers can’t make references to Watergate and Sid Vicious, it’s just that we can’t assume that anyone will know what we’re talking about. Maybe that’s a more general issue with postmodern culture: there are fewer things we can assume that everyone knows….

3 thoughts on “No assumptions

  1. chutney

    Maybe the trick is to drop those cultural references like they do on the Simpsons. If you don’t know the reference, it’s still funny, just in a different way. (Unlike Family Guy, by the way.)

  2. Jean

    I should do a Midwest assumption list for our traditional age first year students.
    — They are the first generation in their family who has to get a college degree in order to land a full time job with benefits.
    — The average age of their parents is 16 to 18 years older than they are.
    — At 18, if they don’t yet have a child, they expect to within the next year or two, planned or not.
    Hmm. I’ll work on this.

  3. Dan

    Chutney — Nice distinction between the Simpsons and Family Guy approaches.

    Jean — You write: “I should do a Midwest assumption list for our traditional age first year students.” Good point — actually, we all need to make our own local lists, due to big regional differences.

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