Talkin Bout My Generation (The Who)

Sitting at a table in the Hotel Lobby, I saw four generations at work. A young dude, mid-twenties – millennial – complained over his glass of white wine (wussy drink) that his liberal democrat wife did not let him smoke cigars and would not cook red meat because she was a vegetarian. The older guy next to him – a Gen Xer – nodded sympathetically but sipped his scotch (a manly drink) not saying a word. Sitting at a table near them, I pounded on my AlienWare laptop (A Millennial Device made popular by Gen X and designed by Baby Boomers from the math of the Silent and World War II generations).

After hearing the Millennial cry in his white wine about His wife not letting him smoke cigars or cook red meat, I asked him, “Dude. Does she let you pee standing up?” (I quoted a Doug Giles poster from a few months back).

Gen X dude almost fell out of his chair laughing. Millennial Dude got mad and drained his white wine and flipped me a bird on the way out. Boomer Boy (me) shrugged, “I deserved that.”

An old guy in the back with his Korean War hat resting on his head smirked at White Wine wienie and said, “Yea, you did, but that was so damn funny I will use that one on my sons in law.”

Four generations at work. Strauss and Howe produced a number of seminal works about Generations and their archetypes across History. Their stuff is worth BINGing or Googling (I can’t believe an old Baby Boomer fart like me actually uses those words). My personal observation about Strauss and Howe’s work, as well as Barna Group’s work on similar subjects within the body of Christ, is that they are WAYYY TOOO NICE. And Liberal. Their conclusions hit popular, left leaning consensus. The reason is actually pretty cool. Our nation has been blessed with peace in North America for so many decades that few understand the dynamics of war, projection of power, or impact of firing machineguns into crowds. Even our Civil Rights Bloviating events are calm and civilized with just a few burned cars and people needing stitches. We are nice and train our cops and soldiers to use shields, Billy clubs and tear gas. In comparison to the rest of the world, most of our protesters get to go back home and text or post to Facebook about how cool they were to march in the streets… attaching pictures to prove it.

10 December, O’Reilly interviewed a nun who was once a Hollywood actress. I ignored most of it until he asked her about the lessening spiritual impact of church and faith on society. She smiled sweetly and said, “In most historical times when civilization is on the edge of great change, there is a relaxing and reducing of the importance of spiritual things.”

I was impressed. A very sweet, beautiful mother superior hit the nail on the head. It was Darwinism crawling (evolving?) out of a hole to convince mankind that we dropped out of a tree. That justified murder on an industrial scale that was otherwise known as World War II. In the aftermath, faith returned to America in truck loads. Win or lose in these fights, no other nation argues so passionately about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness… And lets its protesters go home after screaming their lungs out, as opposed to driving tanks through their ranks.

I want to pull this together. Strauss and Howe developed templates for the timing of crises in each 100 year cycle of generational types. From the 1730s to the 1860s, America had an alternating cycle of revival and war in 100 to 120 year intervals. The revival of the 1830s and 1840s stoked the passions that brought on the Civil War of the 1860s. If things remained normal, our next revival should have occurred in the 1930s and 1940s. The problem was that we had so many casualties in the Civil War that the generational cycle compressed. The Generation that fought the Civil War merged into a kind of silent generation and the Revival of the 1870s and 1880s knocked the cycle on a new timing. The Missionary Generation that came of age in the 1870s and 1880s took the United States through World War II with a true global perspective.

Working the new timing, the next revival occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. Right on time, but it was a divided revival between those who went to Woodstock and those who went to Jesus Freak concerts. Our last divided revival was in the 1830s and 1840s and led to the Civil War.

Our next major revival, on a normal cycle, should happen in the 2060s and 2070s but the evidence is apparent that it is cranking up, now. My theory is that we have aborted so many children (somewhere in the 50 million count) that like the Civil War, generations are merging and we are facing a catastrophic, divided revival in our lives. One of the things I agree with in Strauss and Howe’s tomes of work is that no nation ever survived two divided revivals in a row. My Generation of Baby Boomers came of age in the divided Revival of the 1960s and 1970s and evidence indicates that we get to see another divided revival as our generation straddles the gap between those collecting Social Security and those still working. Usually, the generations of revival are dead when the next one rolls around. There is a lot to indicate that we will wish that we were in our graves when our next revival occurs.

Sitting in the Hotel Lobby, I tipped my glass of two fingers of Scotch at white wine wienie boy, shut down my cool AlienWare laptop, and headed out to the freezing cold patio to smoke a fine cigar and cuss at the tobacco Nazis until I got into the day’s reading in the book of Acts where I read about another rebel named Stephen. He straddled Moses and Jesus in one of the finest sermons of all time then got stoned for it (not the pot version of being stoned). Dang! That dude went out well. I look forward to teaching Stephen about cigars at the wedding feast of the lamb.