You’re too old to care, you’re too young to count

The Indigo Girls nailed it over 10 years ago with that line.

Here’s the longer version of the lyrics – the song is Go, off Come On Now Social:

Did they tell you it was set in stone
That you’d end up alone
Use your years to psyche you out
You’re too old to care
You’re too young to count

Did they tell you, you would come undone
When you try to touch the sun
Undermine the underground
You’re too old to care
You’re too young to count

The internets where I hang out have been full of posts about young adults and the church – why they leave (and here), why they come back, and even why we (young adults, and maybe everyone) should ignore the church all together.

At the same time, the venerable Tripp is talking about age and the church, and more broadly, the culture. Why is it that we are either too young or too old?

And, at the same time, my beloved Episcopal Church is having discussions about mission, structure, and why it is exactly that the Formation & Vocation budget was slashed by 90% for the next three years (even if it was in error.)

My head is spinning from trying to follow all three conversations at once (naptime is limited y’all!). At the same time, I’m sure they aren’t really separate conversations at all, but I can’t quite trace the connections as clearly as I’d like.

There are some obvious threads – when faced with budget crunches, the mainline is cutting programs for young people (convo C) which leads to young adults feeling undervalued at best and finding faith, community and meaning elsewhere (convo A).

But it’s always more complicated. I have a feeling that the argument can be made (and probably is being made) that the church can drastically reduce or even eliminate programs and efforts intended to reach the young adult cohort because young adults are finding community, faith and meaning elsewhere.

Circular logic has never been my friend.

How do we connect these dots? How does our culture’s simultaneous worship of youth culture and demonizing of the shifts in young adulthood shape the ways that these conversations of “where are the young adults” and ageism in the church?  Our ability – in church and in general – to hold dissonance like this, to bemoan the absence of young adults while denigrating the entire generation – are supposed to be a hallmark of postmodernism.

But I think that dysfunctional dichotomies (how’s that for a seminary series of words for ya) are a sign of the transition from a modern to postmodern world. Maybe, when we are tuned in enough to know that we don’t all see the world in the same way and that these times, they are a-changin, its easier to get caught up in the comparisons, the categorizations, and even the cynical claims.

Kids do an interesting thing as they learn about the world. They tend to put things into categories they already understand (like when Bliss called all the animals at the zoo “dog”). The more they learn though, the easier it becomes for them to absorb new words, create new categories, and integrate knowledge.

In terms of being post-modern, or post-Christendom, we are all young. We are new at what this world view looks like, what it means, and how we live in it. Categories like “young” “old” “GenX” “boomer” “mainline” and the rest are part of our trying to figure it out. When we get some grace for calling a zebra “horse” – or even “dog” – I have some faith that we might just grow up after all.

In the meantime, I need to live into the world known as Post-Nap.


About mommymergent

Joyfully living as momma to Miss Bliss, serving the Episcopal Church as priest, and reluctantly becoming part of the mysterious emergent church
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