The Manifesto

We are a generation of Anglican Christians.

We have surveyed the wreckage that is the spiritual landscape of North America, and despite numerous urges to get in touch with ourselves we have chosen to go to church. In fact we long to be recognized as the Church.

We have been to the raves (or ‘parties’ as they were later called). As Gen Xers or Millennials we have grieved Kurt Cobain & Amy Winehouse. We owned an Optimus Prime, a Cabbage Patch Kid, or Pokémon Cards. We had an Atari 2600, Nintendo, PlayStation 1 – 2 – 3.

We, seeing the poverty of our times, want little or nothing to do with the times. We wish genuine escape that is not escapism.  We know too much about isms.  We desire to experience genuine eternity and transcendence, and, having glimpsed these in the liturgies of the Church, we cringe at attempts to make them accessible to us, or imbue this beauty with pyrotechnics, or even more screen-time.

We are grateful to the generation of our forebears for its righteous rebellion against their forebears; for drawing the circle wide, for fighting against the tides that encouraged bigotry, hatred and fear. We know that there is more of this work ahead.  We are also grateful for the call to care for God’s creation. We get that God isn’t a bearded white male in the sky.  We love the call to love the ‘other’ and live with open hands and hearts.  Yes, we get inclusivity and pluralism – but we also want to continue to learn and grow into who we are in Christ Jesus.

We long to be washed and rooted in the Scriptures, the Sacraments, the historic Creeds and the ancient ways of shaping and submitting to the ­­­­­leaders of the church. We are not afraid of duty, or obligation – but we are weary of placation. We are weary of movements that attempt to stand for all things but end up representing the banality of the times. We do not want a safe, lukewarm faith.

We hold that the practice of the Daily Office, and a fully incarnated faith lived in community, can offer a level of spiritual depth that we, who wheedled away hours on Super Mario Brothers, are in sore need of.

We have sat through sermons unexplaining the existence of miracles, angels, demons, the Incarnation, the Resurrection. We have watched the Holy mysteries of our faith lay waste by the logic of the times as the Church seeks to become “relevant.” We ask: “If the times are unholy why should we be relevant to them?”

We have a sense that N.T. Wright trumps Marcus Borg.

We want nothing to do with post-theism.

We went through our angry activist, new age, and/or liberal phases – and took some good from them.  These can be fine correctives to the sins of the tradition – but they are not the whole of the Tradition.  We’re over them as fundamentalisms.  We have tried just about everything and are now willing to give Jesus a chance.

We are tired of committees, visions & website mission statements that are not lived out.  We do not want to be asked about how to make the Church relevant, up to date, or accessible. We have enough companies vying for our attention. We wish for good, sustaining, sustainable work and we wish to be told why it’s meaningful – and see it lived.

We have asked to collaborate or participate, but have often been told to wait.   In frustration, many of us have left.   Those of us still clinging wish for the Church to preach and live with the authority and power that Jesus Christ gave it.  We believe it can do this without repeating the genocidal legacy of residential schools, and other historical sins of which our Church rightly repents.  We believe this to be possible through the grace that comes of following the Servant King.

We’ve watched the petty schisms (left and right), polarizations (left and right), institutional politicking (left and right) and postulating pundits and bloggers (left and right) and have been tempted to run to Buddhism or take Sunday morning hikes. Many of our friends have.  But we’re still here.  We believe that to love Christ is to love His Church in all its breadth and brokenness – and we are going nowhere.

We believe that the Church is wealthy: in history and theology –We desire to share in this wealth and share this wealth with others and creatively build upon / re-imagine / re-enliven the stored faithfulness of the past generations – not to deconstruct it.

We are postmodern natives. We can deconstruct standing on our heads; we have grown gluttonous in the unpacking of assumptions to the point where we hardly believe in anything at all. This has made for an environment of extreme cynicism, reflected in that fact that most of our favourite TV characters are sociopaths. It’s scary.

We are counter-culturists; revelling in the unpopularity of the creeds, doctrines, scriptures, dogmas, solid liturgies and traditions; if for no other reason than for something to bump against in the darkness.  By removing, watering down or downplaying these, we feel that we are left with little except the Transformers movies or Marvel Universe and the vast expanse of the internet with which to reference our lives.  It’s no wonder that so many of our friends head to technology or sports or yoga instead of the Church for ‘transcendence’.

We who remain in the Church believe that the imitation will never do.  We’ve lived in an age of virtual reality, instant social media, readily accessible pornography and unending, unfiltered information.  We have the answers at our fingertips.  We have and know more wiki-knowledge than ever before, but less holy wisdom. Having drunk of too many Coca Cola’s we are not filled, we long to experience the real thing, to come into the real presence of the Lord and experience the justice, peace and joy of the Holy Spirit.

We are in need of good and holy mentors.  Even more so we are in desperate need of Saints. We would like to know this is still an ideal of the Church, to form and house Saints who love the Lord.

And how do we get there? Sainthood that is – how do we become saints?

Is this a question the Church still asks? We need to know.

Sincerely, in Christ.

The ‘Lost’ Generations

 

60 thoughts on “The Manifesto

  1. You are less alone than you may think. In every generation there are those who have felt this way, as strangers in a strange land, or exiles at home. We are all on pilgrimage, my brothers and sisters, and our generations are multiple, and on the same path, Godward. It is in the pilgrimage that we arrive, with daily bread, and stories told by each to each as we walk the Way, and as He taught.

    • I think that the answer is definitely not the Episcopal Church in the United States. The Episcopal Church is in the process of departing from worldwide Anglicanism and is certainly not in the business of providing “good and holy saints.” That kind of mentor is found in orthodox Anglicanism, like the ACNA, that still believes that the Bible is the ground from which good and holy saints are grown in a community of like-minded Christians who find their unity in Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

      • ACNA: 110,000 people, who are fighting court battles to exist, who formed in opposition to treating women as equal to men and recognizing that a same-sex couple can share love, faith, and hope.
        TEC: over 2 million people who have witnessed the love and faith that people have, regardless of their assigned biological sex, who know that women are equal to men, and who have a stable church, directly informed by divine revelations of God’s love and goodwill towards *all* children of God.

        I’m not sure why you’d suggest ACNA over TEC?

      • The catch is that while many “millenial” Anglicans are orthodox and Catholic-minded, we also see the battles over gender and ordination/marriage that ACNA is waging as having been fought and decided already.

      • Streever, your caricature of the ACNA and your definition of “stable” are both convenient, but found wanting. The ACNA, with some diocese that embrace women’s ordination (mine), is a vital, worshipful church who simply will not bow at the altar of identity politics and an ideology that is only a few decades old, striving to define love as sentimentalism, unintelligible to both grace and truth as its necessary components. The ACNA
        formed not in opposition, but in continuity with orthodoxy. You forget who the schismatics really are – those who unilaterally changed their canons in the face of the vast majority of the Communion of which they are a part. The ACNA will have no part of the TEC’s cultural imperialism and exceptionalism, regardless of how much money they continue to rake in from the real estate they own in Manhattan or the admiration they garner from prevailing culture. Maybe your definition of Church is wanting as well, but the TEC would be happy to have you think they operate out of divine revelations, despite how thoroughgoing their conflict with Scripture and tradition really are.

  2. Pingback: The Manifesto by Tract 91 | Walking to Walsingham

  3. I’m certainly older than this generation, but find myself identifying with so much of what was said. Especially “If the times are unholy why should we be relevant to them?” But then we do not keep the Church static or unchanging. “We desire to share in this wealth and share this wealth with others and creatively build upon / re-imagine / re-enliven the stored faithfulness of the past generations – not to deconstruct it.” Wonderful article!

  4. As someone who resonates with pretty much everything written herein, I’d like to know who the “we” is in this piece. The cynicism y’all mention can sometimes leave people like me (us?) feeling isolated among a crowd who feel/think otherwise—finding comrades, shall we say, has been one way of fighting the cynicism and replacing it with hope. I recognize the literary needs (and perhaps additional reasons) for remaining anonymous, so I’m sure you have my email from this comment to contact me privately. I look forward to hearing from you.

  5. Who are you, and how do you presume to speak for “us?” You attempt to mask your esclusionism in esoteric post-modern intellectualism cum piety. Try humility.

  6. I went Episcopalian because I was tired of the pompous dogmatism and arrogance of the Church of Rome. I’m not sure that this manifesto speaks to me or for me, especially the line: “We long to be washed and rooted in the Scriptures, the Sacraments, the historic Creeds and the ancient ways of shaping and submitting to the ­­­­­leaders of the church.” People need to question authority. There is a lot of beauty in the liturgy but its meaning needs to be re-envisioned. Marcus Borg makes a lot of sense. Other than that there are a lot of banal stereotypes and generalizations in the document which diminishes its power and credibility. I have no desire to become a “Saint.” I would rather just be myself, and I believe that the deeper inner truth of “sola fide” was just that God accepts you for who you are, warts and all. It’s true that gimmicks will not lure people back to a dead church, but most people I know leave the churches because of their empty ritualism and formalism, which does not provide them with an authentic experience of God.

    • I’m with Kyle. I find the writer’s willingness to abandon themself to ancient forms and authorities irresponsible, more indicative of retreat than true counter-cultural engagement.

      • I believe that true counter-cultural engagement comes from the radical commitments of the Gospel as it is presented in the Bible. I find it irresponsible to call oneself a Christian while abandoning “the Scriptures, the Sacraments, the historic Creeds and the ancient ways of shaping and submitting to the ­­­­­leaders of the church.”

      • Tony, it’s the pledged obedience to ancient authorities – e.g. creeds, dogma, prescribed interpretations of scripture, liturgical forms, ecclesial leaders – I find morally problematic. These lead some people to think they have the wisdom and purview to define the faith, to determine who is a Christian and who is not. How unlike the GOSPEL, on the other hand, which remains fresh and alive and worthy of humble engagement!

      • Most people that I know, especially those who grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, consider the Holy Eucharist to be an empty ritual. I am not sure what twenty-first century Christians are supposed to get out of quasi-cannibalistic notions like “eating Jesus’ flesh” and “drinking his blood.” I’m not saying that the Holy Eucharist is devoid of meaning. I just find myself questioning what it is supposed to mean. Even if it were true that we eat Jesus’ body and drink his blood, how does that benefit us on a spiritual level? Why would that be necessary or even helpful? These are questions that I wrestle with and that many people my age wrestle with.

  7. This is an apt summary that echoes the thoughts and feelings of many Gen-X and Millennial Anglicans. Thank-you for sharing them. I stand behind this manifesto as a member of the Lost Generations. I wonder if the author(s) of this Manifesto are willing to stand behind it unveiled from anonymity, knowing that many stand with him/her/them.

  8. — Born into, baptised into, confirmed into, ordained Deacon into, ordered Priest into, all of this with all the ups and downs of the Christian Pilgrimage who indeed worships as an Anglican still and I can quiet frankly do no other —

  9. Dear “Lost” Generations,

    Some of us 50+ers are grateful for your manifesto, though we are perhaps fewer in number than this individual would care to admit. You have enriched our hearts with the awareness that the quest for a deeper Christian life will not die with our generation and we embrace you with joyful tears.

    We acknowledge our sins and apologize for the times that we failed to recognize you, see you or hear you.

    We share your frustrations. We have borne the cross of frustration as we watched the left and the right feud over a variety of issues from our youth to the present day. You are not alone, our generation did not chase us out of the church. We have not fallen victim to the trend of explaining away the mysteries of the biblical narrative nor that of reading the Bible naïvely. We believe that the love of neighbor, in all its manifestations, has its deepest authenticity when it grows out the passionate love of God.

    We have found spiritual mentors, in our parent’s generation, who passed on a deeper way to live in relationship with God and church. We embrace our sacred duty to (humbly and freely) offer this gift to you. We commit ourselves to seeking you out with open hearts and minds and “ears.” We only ask that you seek us out as well (whatever our numbers may be) we really are still in the church.

    In the love of Christ
    The Misfit Boomers

  10. Any turn to a love of wonder and those who do so, any willingness to look into the eyes of those who tell stories of the divine that caught them off guard, any moment of Eucharist and good preaching that opened up the light of eternity, any great place of worship that could not contain its own power to reveal, any touch that became healing, any act of charity that caused a need for the prayers of the so-called poor person we thought we were helping. . . these were what Anglicanism bundled into church life and with which I was blessed in the past and longer ago each passing day. . .

  11. I sense that you are in a growing young majority, waiting impatiently for the Boomers to blow away. If this be true, I shall depart in peace.

    I’ve been a priest for fifty years believing with hope beyond hope, that things cast down will be raised up. Thank you.

  12. I think this manifesto was written by saints-in-the-making. But I’m a Bear, and Bears don’t always understand humans, or things human. Though we do understand kindness.

  13. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your sole and all your mind, and love you neighbour as yourself.

    The Christian faith is only as complex as you want to make it. Suggest you stop focusing on yourself and your generation, and instead focus on God and on others. You do not need anyone’s permission to get involved, you already have Christ’s.

  14. This taps into something I’ve been feeling for a while. I fit all the criteria here, except I played Civ I, II, III, IV and V instead of Mario. This is heavy on poetry, but I’m more of a prose guy.

    One other thing I’m over, however, is anonymity. If you crave authenticity and relationship (I know: Even these terms are successfully trademarked by Corporate Spiritulaity Inc.) then you need to be an identifiable person or group.

    I look forward to the big reveal.

  15. Well written, initially thought provoking but inherently sad and disappointing. Its the lost generation that always exists in every corner of every society and culture. In search of the heat of youth that cant be sustained. In search of spiritual belief and leadership when they have it in them to believe and to lead. You have lost it. You cant choose your context, it chooses you. Go out and love and by damned!

  16. I find myself mostly in agreement. I do think Marcus Borg has value. This pov is why I became an Episcopalian so long ago (1966) at age 19. I wanted to be rooted in a living tradition. And, to alter the metaphor, a fertile and fruitful one. This tradition, lived out in the present age and culture, is what is unique that Christianity has to offer in a pluralistic age, in a multi-religious world. Whether a person is a Christian or whatever, they need to be rooted and grounded in a single religious tradition, whatever else they add from other sources. And they need to be grounded in the practice of their religion. Liturgy is important. It is a template on which however laboriously we fit out lives. It gives an habitual shape to our life, just like which foot we put the first sock and shoe on. Faithfulness To God and our life in God can become just as habitual; the more we do it right, the more likely we are to do it right the next time. This is liturgy, listening, learning, expressing our trust in shaky words, singing with joy, acknowledging our dependency, and merging our life with God’s in receiving the Eucharistic gifts of God’s own life. It is not a dead tradition, it may sometimes seem moribund, but our practice gives it life over and over again. Blessed are you our God.

  17. Thank you for this. I too believe that there are many more across generational divides who would stand with you…I know that I will!

  18. I’m a little older, probably a late boomer, so many of the cultural references are lost on me. But I’d say this captures a lot of the perspective of Gen X very accurately. It is pretty complex, and finding home base within so many alternatives is difficult. I’m inclined to think that mainline Christianity lost the plot in seeking alternatives to unambiguous proclamation. Thanks be to God, it’s not about us.

  19. Pingback: The Manifesto – Rev. Dane Womack

  20. The Book of Acts is our paradigm.God,s true Church was birthed on the day of Pentecost,33 AD.She has never changed her Doctrines.She is built upon the Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets.She knows very well,that a fresh,mighty outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit,is what is missing in denominational Christianity.This is what has kept us alive and relevent,for almost two thousand years.All Man made Creeds and Traditions,crumble at the prescence of the power and demonstration of the living Christ,through the Baptism of His Holy Spirit.Salvation,renewel,inspiration,and revelation come with this promise of the Father.All of the nature of Christ,love,joy,peace,longsuffering,gentleness,goodness and faith,flow to and from the heart of the believer,to a lost and spiritualy impoverished World.Acts 2:38, is the entrance to this new life in Christ.It worked for the first century Christians,and is stll working today.

  21. Bless you–for seeking, asking and knocking. Keep going! you are asking the big questions—and you will find the answer if you don’t flag in your journey.
    a hint: re-Orient yourselves and don’t be afraid of a paradigm shift. Head East The Spirit and the Bride say Come!
    Matt 6:33

  22. “We are in need of good and holy mentors. Even more so we are in desperate need of Saints. We would like to know this is still an ideal of the Church, to form and house Saints who love the Lord.”

    You will find this in a Confessional — come and see.

  23. I’m a Boomer, but like the writers of the Manifesto, I want nothing to do with post-theism (or atheism, or non-theism). If proponents of those views want to view me as a holdover from the Bronze Age, then so be it, but I obviously disagree. I’m also not trying to change anyone’s mind, if you agree with the writings of Borg, Spong, or Crossan, that’s your right, just as believing that God exists in theistic terms is my right.

  24. Sorry, but I prefer a faith that has dispensed with “miracles.” NT Wright et al point to a God who still goes “zap.” Any god or God who goes “zap” is just one more capricious SOB. Wir müssen in der Welt leben “etsi deus non daretur”

  25. Please look into the Eastern Orthodox Church…..We are alive and waiting for all of you to lead back by the Holy Spirit.
    Mary

  26. You are less alone than you think. A lot of what you write here, anonymously, resonates with what I have been writing for a decade on the Liturgy website (www.liturgy.co.nz). Thank you for your thoughts. Blessings.

  27. Folks, there is a place where your cries of the heart are heard and your longings for transcendence and spiritual completeness in Christ are fulfilled, in a tradition uninterrupted in two thousand years.Walk into the church down the street, the Roman Catholic Church. Stop roamin’ become Roman.

  28. The Anglican Church has changed vastly since the 1950’s.I don’t know about the manifesto what it is driving at .I find the daily office as a lot of mumble jumble my answer to that is to read Forward Day by Day,read the passages in a modern translation of the bible,and meditate on them,I find the psalms helpful as much as I like traditional language and theology it can be a lot of “mumble jumble”.

    • Peter, have you tried the new seasonal offices that the Anglican Church of Canada has been putting out on trial use? They don’t do anything for me personally compared to the BCP but you might find they cut through the “mumbo-jumbo”

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