Immature Americans = “Cheap Patriotism”

The more I think about the notion that an entire culture has succumbed to the allure of youth, and trapped itself in immaturity, the more troubled I become. Once upon a time, I thought the cult of youth was just the worship of the body beautiful–lithe, smooth-skinned young flesh–and a corresponding fear of aging and death.  But I fear the truth is far more insidious.  The more we become a “visual” culture, the more easily we fall into this trap of juvenilization…the hypnotic draw of TV, video, computer, and ‘Droid have sucked us in.  We read less, we react more.  We ponder less, we play more.  We don’t reflect, we just “like” reflexively.

We blame it all on being busy…we don’t have time to read something substantial. Give me the news briefs, please. Give me the short sentences, the pithy paragraphs, the headlines.  Read a book?  Well…maybe on Kindle, where I can keep pausing to play Angry Birds.

But our appetite for sound bites seems to leave us empty of deep thought while forever hungry for more hot air.   I could spend a lot of time researching and reporting to you what I think is at the root of this cultural phenomenon.

But it doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that we work to regain a society of mature people who aren’t afraid of reading carefully and reasoning logically, who don’t flinch away from ideas that are unsettling or demanding.  What we think–to the extent that we DO think–very much defines who we are…and eventually, what we think BECOMES who we are.

We’ve all heard the computer geek’s mantra: “Garbage in/garbage out”, right?  It’s a truism.  I have a favorite Bible verse which is the antithesis of that statement:

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,  whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.  (Philippians 4:8)

DO we want to be commendable, morally excellent, truthful, honorable, pure? …Then reading, watching, absorbing a steady diet of tripe, gossip, pornography, violence and lies is probably not an effective strategy.   I don’t personally think the majority of Americans WANT to be trivial, gossipy, thrill-seeking, simplistic and vulgar.  But somewhere along the line, we’ve gotten the idea that we can give lip service to an ideal, then go and do whatever we want, whatever is easy, comfortable, fun, relaxing, low key and unchallenging…and somehow the ideal will still become a reality.

The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer indicted the Church for doing this to faith.  He called it “cheap grace”…the notion that one can say a prayer of commitment to Jesus, and show up in church on Sundays when convenient, and…no worries! Don’t bother working at a faith-filled life, changing a bad habit, striving to do better, seeking truth.  You’re “in.”

Meanwhile, I fear that most of us in this country enjoy “cheap patriotism”: the sense that we’re entitled, as Americans, to all the rights and privileges that pertain thereto, but owe nothing in return…not so much as the duty to be well informed before we enter a voting booth.  

Of course young people want to do what’s quick and easy…it’s human nature.  That doesn’t make it right, wise or best.  That’s why God gave them parents…to model for them that doing what takes more time, energy and thought is not only better in the long run, it brings even short-term satisfaction, and builds character in ways that no short cut ever can.

But what happens when a nation contains so many adults who did not have such parenting?  Who are in fact just “big kids”?  What happens when the adults still need parents? Who is going to parent them?  I have a sneaking suspicion I know the answer… pray there’s another way to get us all to grow up.

Image Detail

Artwork from Sherrie Thai

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17 responses to “Immature Americans = “Cheap Patriotism”

  1. I rarely read anything more than a paragraph long but I read this whole thing, now I have to go back and re-read because I forgot what it said. I had a comment for it earlier, really, I did.

  2. As I told GBL on the phone this morning, I’m conflicted by this post:
    I read and largely agree with the pretense, …..

    …..which is why I “Liked” it, reflexively….

  3. godsbooklover

    I give up.

  4. Writing a post would end up being a book so I’ll just throw little tidbits out at a time.

    Let me give you a personal (to me) view of the future of our youths. Our 15, almost 16, year old granddaughter is and always has been an honor student, she’s always been in GATE (gifted and talented) classes, when she was in the 8th grade she was one of 7 girls in her school to be singled out by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

    She took the SAT in 7th grade, promoted by Duke University, and scored 1200 on it, just 50 pts shy of honorable recognition, to my knowledge she scored the highest in her class. Her scores were higher in all categories than 78% of high school seniors and equal to roughly the same amount of the remaining.

    All through Junior High she wanted to go to schools like Princeton andTexas A&M, she wanted to be a Journalist.

    Fast forward to today. Her goal now is to be a tattoo artist! How did we go from Princeton to tattoo artist????

    Her reward for getting on the Honor Roll the first half of the year was to get a nose ring. aaaaarggggggggggggggg and now she wants what they call sleeves, tattoos completely up her arms. aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggggggg

    Of course the more we protest the more defiant she gets. We’re trying to get her to at least have a second major that she can fall back on but no dice.

    Mr. G and I raised her until High School, at which time she moved in with her mother.

  5. Reblogged this on Phoebe's Detention Room and commented:
    As George Carlin once said, don’t try to reform the schools because they aren’t going to get any better.

  6. godsbooklover

    Having raised two sons who have both turned their backs on most of the values we thought we’d instilled…I’ve often said that however loudly we speak truth into their lives, the world seems to be speaking louder. I can’t imagine how frustrated and saddened you must be over your granddaughter. Ours is only 17 months old, and we are raising her, with much, much prayer for wisdom.

    • I wish you the very best of luck, it’s not easy and you never know the outcome until it’s too late to do anything about it.

      The outside influences are tremendous, the violent, graphic and vulgar video games, the violent, graphic and vulgar movies and TV and the violent, graphic and vulgar music are destroying our youth.

      There was a time when schools had children reading the classics now they read Harry Potter and the Hunger Games, I guess these are the new classics. There seems to be a prevalence in our society now towards the occult which is highly disturbing, not just because I’m a Christian but because of the evil that the past two generations refuse to acknowledge as evil.

      There’s a brainwashing in our culture that is drawing our children in, from the schools, from the arts and I use that term loosely, from the govt. Our future is written, tatto’d, pierced, eye of newt stirring, bath salts sniffing fools will be running this country. You think Obama’s bad, just wait.

  7. Pingback: Is it a generation gap or just plain ignorance? | Phoebe's Detention Room

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