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We Screwed Up – Now It’s Your Turn

We Screwed Up – Now It’s Your Turn

I have a confession and an apology to make. I think I may have helped screw most of you up. Or at least a lot of people in my generation did. I am very sorry for what "we have done and what we have left undone."

I am a 47-year-old who recently stumbled upon your website. What a relief! I thought for sure that we Christians of the last 25 or 30 years had completely messed up the next generation with our nasty, silly, political hackery and our total disregard for those less fortunate than we are—even though we were that fortunate only by the grace of God, whom we professed and proselytized about to any and all.

Instead, I found a group of younger, second-generation evangelical Christians who have understood that their parents (us) had screwed up, and that wasn’t the point. The point was that God is greater than any of our silliness—God is what is important, and God is both our strength and our balance.

In reading the website, I am seeing a sense of recovery from and an ownership of the mantle of Christianity and its leadership. I certainly understand the "recovery" from religion part. As a young man, I, too, considered myself like that, in the archetypical sense of being a "recovering Catholic." I had to come to God in my own way, in my own time. But as I went through that, I also started noticing the parts that Catholics did right as much or more than what they did wrong, those things that drove me out of the Church. I see that kind of acceptance and reflection here. That gives me much hope that the next generation will do a much better job than we did.

We had been living through some very heady times, in a way. We were at the confluence of the right idea, the right set of people, the right demographics, the right technologies and the right time in history. And we blew all to hell. Almost literally. What I am referring to is the evangelical movement of the last 30 years or so. It was, to me, a revelation. This is what loving God could be like. This is what God has in store for me. This makes sense in my life. Ah, but then just look what we did with it.

When did the politics of prayer become more important than helping the poor? When did legislating about evolution on a state level become more important than living according to God’s tenant of loving your neighbor as yourself? I’ll tell you when. It happened when we found out it was really hard to do those things. We had developed enough political strength in numbers and fervor for the things that don’t matter. We had not found the way in our hearts for the things that do matter.

Unfortunately, that is part of your legacy, and it is my dishonor. In some sense, it was because many of us were babies in our faith, as in the first in our families to really try to live in this new paradigm. We did not have that legacy in front of us to show us the way. So we made a lot of mistakes that come with having power and conviction, but not necessarily the reflection that we needed.

But, we may have given you some opportunities and gifts that you can use. Obviously, you can learn from our mistakes. You can also use our base, our connections, our current political power to your advantage.

So, I ask of you now, please take the ball and run with it. We have taken it thus far. You could even say we fumbled it. You will run in a different direction. You will trip and fall. But, if this site and other things that I have seen in the last few years are any indication, you are running toward God. That is all I can ask.

[Tom E. Boland is a 47-year-old guy who has seen this stuff in his life.]


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