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The Faith of Generation Y

Book jacket image for 'The Faith of Generation Y'

I have just finished reading Sally Nash and the Mayos (Sylvia Collins-Mayo and Bob) 2010 follow-up to Making sense of Generation Y. I had both enjoyed and found their first book to be a really interesting piece of work and so I had watched out for the arrival of this follow-up with some interest.

I’ve not been disappointed.

The Faith of Generation Y continues the examination of our 18-30 something’s by looking at them from both sociological and theological perspectives. I particularly found the sociological work on their ‘lack of story’ and ‘bedroom spirituality’ to be really useful and interesting.

As someone who grew up in the tail-end of Generation X, I found their discussion of the bedroom really rang bells with me as well since God had been part of my life in my teenage years there long before I darkened the door of a church.

The ‘lack of story’ essentially builds on the post-modern idea of a lack of meta-narrative and, interestingly, may have had a very direct example given to us in the Royal Wedding with so many young people present on the streets… much to my surprise. Was that a search for a unifying story, a narrative to tell us what it means to be British?

The book concludes with a chapter from one of my heros, the now Rt Rev Chris Cocksworth, as he rehearses some of his subject-matter from Holding Together.The desire for ‘authentic’ Church is one of the conclusions of the book which fits nicely with Chris’ themes in recent years of how we can be evangelical, catholic and charismatic together. Put more simply Christian faith cannot be taken out of the form of the Church and its lived practice in the power of the Spirit. Put even more simply, you have to love in a community to live it but also display it to others.

If you’ve been following the various books written about Generation Y, I don’t suppose that this material will be too much of an eye-opener for you. But if it’s a subject of interest to you (and it is to me), it’s a good chance to go deeper with some of the themes and look at them from different angles. Worth a read.

Wedding reflections: what role mission in a Royal event?

Kate Middleton and Prince William are married by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Westminster Abbey, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 29 2011. Photo credit: Devlin/PA Wire
PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 29 2011. Photo credit: Devlin/PA Wire

With a six year old daughter who was just so excited about the concept of an ordinary girl being made into a real-life Princess, it was inevitable that I would be watching the Royal Wedding on Friday.

Quite apart from daddy duties, I was interested both as a British subject and as a minister of the church. As a priest and minister, I was intrigued to see what form and shape the service would take and what the 24 million, mostly non-churchgoing, Brits would make of it whilst watching on television.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience but if I have may have a moan or two, can I have a moan at the Church of England and a mission opportunity missed?

Now, with any couple that I marry, I do give them the choice of which words we are going to use. For the uninitiated, there are several options – The Book of Common Prayer from 1662, the 1928 liturgy which eventually saw the light of day in the sixties as Series One and then the contemporary Common Worship (which most of my couples choose).

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A fuss over plastic

A photo of a clerical collar on the desk.

Amidst all the preparations for Easter (we tend to have a foreshortened Holy Week that doesn’t do much until Maundy Thursday), I’ve been reading The Faith of Generation Y. I’m sure I’ll try to write more about it in due course when I’ve finished it. However, I read a little bit today that caught my eye and got me thinking about this little piece of white plastic I wear around my neck.

“The elder end of Generation X, now in positions of church leadership, were likely to have been brought up by wartime parents. This meant a tight parenting structure with a need to step away from the family in order to create their own social spaces. When they became parents they were determined to ensure that there was not the same distance between them and their children. … Young people do not need to rebel against their parents because generally they can achieve what they want without having to do so. (Mayo et al, The Faith of Generation Y, 2010: 103-4)”

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Thamus and Theuth and the digital age

Statue of an Egyptian scribe, ca. 2500 BC

In the midst of my MA study leave, I am pondering this famous old parable and its implications for the digital age.

“Now the king of all Egypt at that time was Thamus… To him came Theuth to show his inventions, saying that they ought to be imparted to the other Egyptians… When it came to writing, Theuth declared: “… I have discovered a sure receipt for memory and for wisdom.” To this, Thamus replied, “O most expert Theuth, one man can give birth to the elements of an art, but only another can judge how they can benefit or harm those who will use them. And now, since you are the father of writing, your affection for it has made you describe its effects as the opposite of what they really are. Those who acquire it will cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful… What you have discovered is a receipt for recollection, not for memory. And as for wisdom, you provide your students with the appearance of wisdom, not with its reality: they will receive a quantity of information without being properly taught, and they will imagine that they have come to know much while for the most part they will know nothing… And because they are filled with the conceit of wisdom instead of real wisdom they will be a burden to society.”

Phaedrus and the Seventh and Eighth Letters

CofE Website Launch 3: A review

Screengrab from the Church of England website, 10 January 2011

In the fullness of time, the problems of this weekend’s Church of England website relaunch will be forgotten.

In the fullness of time, people will forget the fact that there is a cringeworthy video introduction to the Church of England on the website. After all, how many times do you need an introduction? The powers-that-be may even remove it anyway given the general reaction that there has been. At least, we can hope and pray that they remove it.

However, the website will remain and really that is what is important going forward. So what is it like? Is it any good? Does it mark a major step forward from the previous version?

Well, the answer is both yes and no. Read more

CofE website launch 2: The Youtube video part 2 (mission)


In my earlier post today, I wrote about the spelling and grammar errors contained in the new video on the Church of England website: ‘An introduction to the Church of England’. You can watch the whole thing by using the embedded link above. In this post, I’d like to talk more about the content.

Basically, the video (in my opinion) is awful. The music is horrific, it sounds like something you might play at a funeral or a really bad amateur wedding video soundtrack, and it plays into all the stereotypical images of the Church of England that you could imagine. Read more

CofE website launch 2: The Youtube video part 1 (spelling)

I will get on to a proper review of the new Church of England website in due course (and I want to play with it for a while to do that), but I have to draw attention to the YouTube video that has also been unveiled as part of this new website launch for the Church of England. Last night, most of the social media attention and twittering was not about the 500 errors that I ran into but about Read more

CofE website launch: FAIL

Screengrab from the Church of England website showing an error message.

I got an excited text from a fellow Curate this afternoon who knows I’m into these things. “There’s a new Church of England website” he said. I had heard sometime ago via back-channels that something was happening so it didn’t come as a total surprise that a new website was being launched.

However, my first thought was this: ‘what are they doing launching on a Friday? You never launch a website on a Friday’. As Stephen Ward makes abundantly clear in his recent article, it’s always a bad idea. People are out of the office, you can’t deal with any immediate feedback and, despite the best testing in the world, there are always glitches and problems when something new is launched. You want to be there to nurse it through those first days… not abandon it to the weekend.

So what do I find when I log on this evening? Read more