Next, there is a pervasive and abiding concern about the future. To those of us who lived through the Cold War this seem ludicrous. But the tentativeness and fear that pervades American society are real. Witness the catastrophe at Columbine. Those two young men were angry, confused, but most of all hopeless. We have lost our way; lost our dreams. Harvard professor Dr. Harvey Cox writes: â€œWe once had dreams and no technology to bring them to pass. Now we have technology but no dreams!â€
In fact, most social critics argue persuasively that this generation is one of the most hopeless in history. Interestingly enough this hopelessness has made us rather sentimental. We have become very sentimental about the past. Even in our most creative creations it is more of the same. Even though Hans Solo is a liar, a criminal and a fornicator, he still is a do-gooder spreading George Lucasâ€™ version of truth and justice across the land. But God is totally absent. The Star Wars phenomenon is so appealing because it is about the past; not about the future. Luke Skywalker is more like John Wayne than he is like Tom Cruse.
To this hopeless generation history is not sacred; it is merely utilitarian. It is not didactic; it helps make them feel better. The modern psychologist B.F. Skinner, for instance, disdains history and gives M & M’sÂ® to monkeys. We have no actionsâ€”only fate driving us. We are rudderless. The fact is we Christians know, however, that God is in absolute control of history. We need to teach our children to be tirelessly hopeful. We need to make sure that we are not mawkish! We can easily do so by speaking the Truth found in the Word of God in places of deception.
One of the greatest problems in this generation is confusion about individual responsibility. It was Freud who told us that feelings of guilt were a sign not of vice, but of virtue. That our problems stemmed from our mothers, not from our sin. Perhaps our problem began with Goethe whose Faust escapes the consequences of his sin by sincerity and good humor. What does this say for poor theistic Gretchen? Look at the evolution of the American understanding of hero:
- 1930-1970 Traditional John Wayne . . . While he was not overtly Christian, Wayne exhibited Judeo-Christian behavior in all his actions.
- 1970-2000 Modern Clint Eastwood . . . Eastwood is moral but the end justifies the mean. He is motivated by a golden-rule sort of moral code.
- 2000-Present Post-Christian Tom Cruise . . . Morality to Cruise is defined by what is right in his own eyes.
Perhaps our movie icons best typify what America values and promotes in her culture.