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The Meh Generation

Ask someone what their passion is and most people will respond with a hobby, like, or interest.  “I’m passionate about writing,” they’ll tell you eagerly, or “I have a real passion for the poor”, but how many hours of struggle and frustration and exhilarating effort have they really dedicated to writing that novel or raising money for those orphans that they’re always talking about?  How many nights have they been unable to sleep because they can’t stop thinking about that project, that person, that injustice that consumes their mind?  How can we claim to be passionate for something when we spend all our lives doing just about everything else?

We’ve sliced the meaning of passion to ribbons and ripped all of the action out until the word is just a sliver of its former self.  To our generation, passion means to find something interesting or desirable, love means to enjoy, hate means to fail to enjoy, and awesome means mildly impressive.  We are a passive people, and the devaluing of our emotional vocabulary is just one symptom of the apathy in our hearts.  Deep down, we don’t want to do anything.  We don’t want to engage our hearts, we don’t want to engage our minds, and we don’t want to take action or responsibility for anything.  We want to sit back and watch, to just take life in, and as a result we don’t know what passion is anymore.

Here’s how a friend of mine put it: “‘Passively taking it all in’ is exactly the attitude and behavior that disappoints me most about my generation – and is something I try to discourage the next generation from doing. Hatred and vitriol may be more frightening, at the first sighting, but apathy is harder to combat and correct. Some refer to the collective problem as a Me Generation, but I’m slightly more afraid of a Meh Generation. At least narcissists exhibit human emotion.”

This phrase, “Generation Meh”, has been tacked onto twenty-somethings lately, and it’s  a perfect description of our greatest downfall.  We can hardly bring ourselves to do more than acknowledge something’s existence and express our approval or disapproval thereof.  We can’t be bothered to feel deeply about it, we can’t be bothered to think deeply about it, and we certainly can’t be bothered to do anything about it.  Most of our responses amount to little more than a dismissive “meh” and a change of topic, even if our “meh”s are sometimes put a little more eloquently than others.

In the days when emotions held weight, when people cared about things, passion meant something over and above the norm, an almost unbearable emotional reaction that lead to a physical response, such a strong desire for some goal that they would overcome any obstacle to reach it.  Now, when most of our emotional reactions and psychological responses are as bland as rice milk, any real mental and emotional engagement with anything is stronger than anything we’ve ever felt.  So we call it passion and talk about it for a while, and our friends say “that’s cool” or “good for you” until the emotions are gone and we’re still on the couch, our most pressing goal to keep doing what we’re doing and try not to be bored.  Words don’t change things, passionate people do, and until we reclaim true passion for the things that truly matter, we’ll never accomplish anything.  I pray that God will fill young Christians today with His Spirit, that He will revive our comatose hearts with a hunger for action, because I don’t want us to be remembered as a generation of indifference.  I want us to be remembered as the generation that made a difference.

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Pathos: Robert Wallace

Robert Wallace is my next door neighbor in the dorm I call home, and he is both a talented musician and bold-hearted lover of Christ. Find out how he would change the world – and maybe accidentally destroy it – in this week’s Pathos interview.

The Author’s Apprentice: What is your greatest passion? How are you using that?

Robert Wallace: This question plagues me often. At first glance I would say music, but this does not cover it. I really want to use music as a tool to encourage and exhort. Lots of my friends at Moody Bible Institute surpass me in musicality. Though few of them share my same passion to specifically direct it towards uplifting believers and travel extensively while doing it. Adventure paces in my heart. I cannot put it to sleep. So perhaps I will eventually search out the far-forgotten places of this country. If not I’ll settle down with my wife and have 20 children or so – that would be an adventure!

TAA: If everyone in the world gathered around to hear you speak for five minutes, what would you tell them?

RW: They would not understand me. If they did, I would tell them all to jump at the same time – just to see what would happen. On a more serious note, I would exclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them!

TAA: If it was up to you to change the world, how would you go about it?

RW: I would help plant a church movement in Chicago that would multiply itself every 2-3 years. I would help plant a church next to every stop on the “L”. After that, I would do the same in every other “Alpha” city in the world. (http://northshorecrossing.org/)

TAA: Who are your heroes? Why do they inspire you?

RW: Systematically I have heroes and then see how flawed they are in some aspect of their character. The greatest example of this is electric bass virtuoso, Victor Wooten; incredible player, amazing talent, horrible spiritual ideas.
However, probably the most continuing “hero” that I have (besides Christ) would be a friend of mine from high school, Nate. He is four years older than me. Seeming to possess all the creative juices the human race has in one body, he taught me a lot about music philosophy and how to be cool in general.

TAA: What is your favorite thing about being a student at Moody? The biggest challenge?

RW: Favorite thing about Moody – the intense classes.
Least favorite thing – the intense classes.

TAA: How can the readers of The Author’s Apprentice pray for you?

RW: Pray that I would learn to manage my time in a God respecting way and that I can encourage those around me.

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