Faith Popcorn is a futurist and a student of trends. Months ago she forecast that “angsting” would be one of the hottest cultural pursuits for 2016. She explains it this way: “Consumers hunger for real emotions- even sad ones- in our isolated-by-technology age.” It made sense: you could already see the clouds forming on the horizon.
Her comments came to mind once again last week after the sudden death of Prince, the rock musician who once changed his name to a symbol that could not be pronounced. His premature death, apparently drug related, was as tragic as it was unexpected. But suddenly, every media outlet in the infosphere glommed on to the story for three days. Across the airwaves and in social media tributes we were reminded not only that he was a genius, but that his life was legendary, astonishing, and the source of inspiration for people everywhere. Why the sudden obsession with a musician who has been mostly ignored since 1999? The mass media gives us what the masses want, and most people clearly want to share some satisfying heartbreak.
Angsting. In a superficial, mostly meaningless culture, shared grief is the only emotion that seems real. It feels authentic to reach out to others in our mutual misery. Sometimes it feels like the only way to bond.
This is not the way Utopia was supposed to feel, is it? And that is surely where we were supposed to be by now. We won our sexual freedom. Recreational drug use is commonplace most places and legal in many. Contraceptives are free. Women can enter any field or profession. We not only carry our favorite music anywhere we want to travel, but we can even take along our favorite movies or sports events! And thanks to awe inspiring technology, we are always in touch with the people we care about most. It’s almost like we have finally arrived in Neverland. That didn’t work out for Michael Jackson, either, did it?
We are free to do anything but mostly unable to find the thing we came looking for: home. We are the homeless generation with no place to retreat for peace of mind. Our credit card addiction can buy us anything except joy. There’s actually a swelling tide called the Sad Girl Movement. One website explains, “Sad Girl Theory proposes that the sadness of girls should be recognized as an act of resistance.” Or a clarifying moment of honesty.
The suicide rate in the USA is the highest it’s been in thirty years and climbing. Medical authorities are baffled, but the Creator is not. “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.Although they claimed to be wise, they became as fools.” (Romans 1:23)
The sad girls and lost boys of this generation have suppressed the truth of what they secretly crave: someone who heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. They resist the embrace of the one who longs to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
If only Adele could sing a ballad about Jesus. It probably wouldn’t work: wouldn’t be sad enough. Yes, there was a bloody cross and a costly ransom, but it ended on a thrilling, victorious note. New life. Family reunion. Captives freed. A lot of shattered souls can’t relate to seriously Good News, or so it seems.
“Hello, it’s me/ I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet.” He’s been called the Wonderful Counselor, and he stands at the door and knocks. When I invite him inside, this old place suddenly feels like home again.
To learn how to walk by faith with Jesus Christ click here.
Lift up the Cross!