Is Our Culture Going to Make It?

Father Knows BestSo many people lament these days about something missing in our culture, something lost, something perhaps never to be retrieved. We seem to be wandering around a bit bewildered. We seem to be carrying around a map of reality that no longer points out where we are or where we should be going. Something happened, to use Joseph Heller’s phrase of a few decades ago. Something changed, quite dramatically, and we worry about that. We yearn for something different, something old and good.

Now I know this can sound like nostalgia for a past that didn’t exist in the first place. Or perhaps it is just the perennial whining of an older generation that longs for the good old days. Maybe we simply need to move on, embrace change, accept what we have become.

In a Saturday Wall Street Journal column a week ago, Peggy Noonan says that “pretty much everyone over 50 in America feels on some level like a refugee. That’s because they were born in one place — the old America — and live now in another.”

Of course we have to ask, is there really an “old America” that is somehow more healthy, more decent, more mannered, more devoted to the common good, more hopeful? We know the old times were full of all kinds of dark realities. We think of the scourge of racism run rampant and deep in the culture, for example. Things were not perfect, to be sure.

But still there is “a certain cultural longing now,” Noonan says. We “hear the new culture out of the radio, the TV, the billboard, the movie, the talk show. It is so violent, so sexualized, so politicized, so rough.” People often feel they “miss the old America . . . .” They “fear, deep down, that this new culture, the one their children live in, isn’t going to make it.”

“In essence,” Noonan says, we live in “an assaultive culture, from the pop music coming out of the rental car radio to the TSA agent with her hands on your kids’ buttocks. We are increasingly strangers here, and we fear for the future.”

What do you think? Do you share these feelings? I’d love to know what you feel about the way things are these days in our country, perhaps across the world. Have we lost something good, something never to be retrieved? Do we feel that powerless to lead change toward something better? Do we feel that hopeless?


Categories: America, Culture

3 replies

  1. To be sure, good things are lost as time passes. I think a sense of loss is part of growing up and growing older.

    But, if we as Christians are not living with love instead of fear, and hope instead of despair, there IS a problem. And the problem is not with our larger culture (which remains fallen, as it has been for nearly all its history), but with us, and perhaps our understanding of God. If our hope is in God, and not our culture or our government, then we move forward in faith. If someday God will make all things new — then why would we look back to the “good old days”?

    Sometimes I *do* feel afraid and hopeless. But I pray for the grace not to stay there.

  2. I agree with Pam. We live in a broken world. We are just experiencing more manifestations of the brokenness. We have a choice as Christians. Do we succumb to the fear that shows up for us in this brokenness or do we choose to live in the love of a God who is reconciling this world? He calls us to be ambassadors of this love and agents of healing. it is pretty hard to do this from a place of fear. I find for myself that I have a choice daily. Do I choose fear of love? I start my day by praying that God will use me as an instrument of his purpose for that day. Let’s choose to live in the hope of God’s kingdom now.

  3. I actually feel some optimism about the future because there seems to be a groundswell of young people who really want to make the world better. Sure, I am disheartened and even appalled by elements in our popular culture, but the trend toward helping others and improving our world is encouraging. It seems to be everywhere we turn. Businesses are taking the social good + profit to new levels utlizing the power of our new connectedness via social media and mobile devices. This is good stuff. It brings me hope.

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