Many times this year I have been privileged enough (and I say this sincerely) to receive hours of advice from my elders. Typically those that take the time to stop me in the Ad building, pick up the phone, and call or write a letter desire to point me in the right direction, to inform me that the Collegian must represent the Adventist community to non-Adventists, and to help me mold the newspaper into an effective tool for spiritual growth. Although the advice usually makes me question the role of the Collegian, it most recently reminds me of two seemingly contradictory notions.
One, that there is a generation gap and two, that as Solomon so poignantly wrote, there is nothing new under that sun. I've concluded that Adventist youth are caught in the same dilemma all Adventists are caught in at one time or another, our particular dilemma is simply a variation on previous predicaments. For our generation, the types of things that scare us (the economy, the environment, lacking a sense of identity) have forced us to grapple with the secular world in a far different way than our elders did. I believe our particular situation makes my generation more aware of the secular world and demands us to integrate that world into our lives to a greater extent than was necessary in the past.
My generation has discovered that the sacred answers to many of our struggles do not suffice where as secular answers abound with reason. We look at our world, full of AIDS and depleting ozone layers and find that morality for the sake of morality is at times less convincing than cold, hard facts (i.e. we shouldn't have sex because it's simply not safe, we should take care of our environment because if not we won't have one to take care of.) And although our elders often embrace these answers as well, they have a harder time understanding the side-effects growing up as we have has produced. My generation has not only integrated the secular answers to some of our struggles into our personal philosophies, but we have also learned to live, in a sense, more comfortably with the secular world. We appreciate the art, the music, the openness of contemporary society and our forms of expression reflect our level of comfort in the way we attempt to reconcile our experiences.
Although our expression is different and our problems have made us a generally pessimistic group, I think it is wrong to associate changing forms of expression and an openness about the human situation with a decline in spirituality amongst Adventist youth. My generation may appear a bitter, nihilistic bunch disregarding the church and its doctrines, but I think we, along with our elders, are on a similar spiritual journey.
We're frustrated, we question, and we may analyze life to the point of frustrating others but the important part is that we're searching. I believe the fact that we're here, at this college, serves as evidence to our desire for spiritual growth.