I am doing a lot of reading on the spirituality and religion of the United Kingdom. This morning I came across a book published in 2006 called “Making Sense of Generation Y: The World View of 16-25 Year Olds” They interviewed 180 youth from all over the UK.
One of their conclusions was, “We were impressed by the creativity with which our young people engaged with our chosen elements of popular culture. They used films, television soap operas, popular music, clubbing, cultural icons and advertising images for their own purposes to resource a world view in which happiness for themselves, their friends, and their families is the bedrock. The logic of this is simply self-evident:
Happiness is the ideal you aim for. (Derek)” (p. 35)
Findings suggest “lack of overt religious sensibility did not appear to result in our young people feeling disenchanted, alienated or lost in a meaningless world. Instead, the data indicated that they found meaning and significance in the reality of everyday life, which the popular arts helped them to understand and imbibe.” (p. 37)
The writers said that the youth in the UK had this current world view: “‘This world, and all life in it, is meaningful as it is.’ In other words, there is no need to posit ultimate significance elsewhere beyond the immediate experience of everyday life. This means that our young people had no obvious need for what we call transformative spirituality (Chapter 1). If youth workers are looking for a felt need, a ‘God-shaped hole’ that follows Christian contours, they will be disappointed.” (p. 37)
So it looks like the youth would not respond very well to how we have been presenting the gospel. The book goes on to say that their world view is not an individualistic “mini-narrative” but “it is communal on a small scale (me, my friends, and my family): a midi-narrative.” (p. 38)
I find this fascinating and it fits in quite nicely with Jeremy Rifkin’s understanding of The European Dream. Rifkin describes the dream in contrast to the American dream in which individuals find security not through individual accumulation of wealth (America), but through connectivity, sustainable development, and respect for human rights.” (Quote about Jeremy Rifkin’s book “European Dream” from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_European_Dream ).
The world has changed and we need to reconsider the ‘God-shaped hole’ that has been assumed for so long. Maybe it has a different shape than was imagined before.
Mission among Young People in “Secular” Europe By Jonny Baker January / February 2010. Baker connects the concepts that Newbigin discussed along with St. Patrick to point us to a missional expression of the gospel.