The term “Millennial” comes with a lot of preconceived notions, it’s a real loaded term. What is a millennial? dictionary.com defines a millennial as “a person born in the 1980s or 1990s, especially in the U.S.; a member of Generation Y.” This definition will suffice. I’m a millennial. I was born in ’91, I grew up on Jurassic Park, Lion King, Mighty Ducks, Batman The Animated Series, N’sync, witty AIM screen names, YoYo tricks, crazy bones, the cordless home phone, brightly colored rabbit feet, Beanie Babies, Eminem, and tying your jacket around your waist. Is that proof enough?
Today, there are lots of different subgroups within the millennial generation, but I specifically want to address 5 of them: The Postmodern, The Wounded Recoiler, The Erudite Modern, The Earth Keeper, and The New Rebel. Millennials get a bad rap today, from all sides, but within each of these 5 subgroups there is a lot of value and genuineness. They each have their own concerns, norms, heroes, directives, hopes, and dreams. Along with every historical movement, these millennial subgroups have their inconsistencies, their misguided passions, and they endorse leaders who can’t give them what they’re seeking.
As the title suggests, I’m a Christian Millennial. The deep desire of my life is to show my generation that the logos, ethos and pathos that they search for in their own subgroups can only be found in Jesus Christ, in following his way, and in loving him. My goal is to make you think, to make you wonder, and to make you act. These posts are by a millennial to millennials on behave of the Lord of the Millennium.
To the Postmodern, Your micro-narrative has transcendent value.
Postmodernism, formerly known as “Po-Mo”, an abbreviation that now seems to be considered trite (but they’d say passé) is all about the individual. Today there’s a lot of talk of “post-truth”politics but postmodernism is a bit more nuanced than just lying. If you’re a postmodern millennial you’ve most likely been influenced, directly or indirectly, by philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche, Michel Foucault and Richard Rorty. In your view truth cannot be known or truth is relative and/or knowledge claims are merely a power play used as a system of control. It’s often said that the meta-narrative (overarching theme of the universe) is dead and so we’re all free to embrace our own micro-narratives (subjective stories). I’m not sure how serious you’ve thought through the statements “we can’t know truth” or “there is no objective truth” or “all truth is relative or subjective” because that statement refutes itself. Do you truly know we can’t know truth? Is it objectively true that there are no objective truths? Is it objectively true that all truth is relative? Is it objectively true that all truth is subjective? You feel me?
The deconstrucitonists, pragmatists, existentialists and postmoderns are all fairly similar in my mind. They are all very skeptical of traditional truth claims and have become dissolusioned by the modern man’s failures in enlightenment philosophy. I think they each see specific issues in the modern autonomous way of understanding and propagating knowledge that are immensely helpful for us all but they go too far and to quote C. S. Lewis, “You can’t go on ‘seeing through’ things forever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. To ‘see through’ all things is the same as not to see.” And similarly a major motivation of a postmodern is to reserve judgment and keep an open mind, which to quote Bane, is “admirable but mistaken” because again they seem to take it too far. As G.K. Chesterton says, “Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.” The postmodern rarely closes their mind except to exclude Christianity from coming in. I think these few critiques are important to note but what I’m really interested in, concerning postmodern thought, is their concepts of meta and micro narrative.
Christians aren’t opposed to subjective micro-narratives, each of us embrace and continually share our own micro-narratives. We call them our “testimony” and we believe they’re infinitely important. In our testimony we testify to what God has done in our own lives and how He knit together all the details of our journey to Himself. I think postmoderns can appreciate the individuality of the Christian subjective journey but what usually gets your goat is when we impose our own micro-narrative on you. Your disgust in the macro-narrative has poisoned the well for you against Christianity.
While I agree with postmoderns that the individual’s story has value and worth, I heartily disagree with their jettisoning of the big story. Do you not see that it’s the big story that gives value to the mini story? The big story is comprised of the little stories, without the little stories the big story would have no substance, agreed? But what postmoderns miss is that without the big story, the little story has no frame of reference, no value that comes from finding it’s place in the grand scheme. Where the big story depends on the little story for substance, the little story depends on the big story for value, meaning and norms.
Take my dog, Logan, for example. Logan is an individual dog. He is a specific dog, the particular dog in this context. He’s a Lakeland Terrier, roughly 20lbs, with coarse jet black hair and a curvey/nubby tail. We got Logan as a rescue after his elderly owner had a stroke and could no longer take care of him. It’s taken him a while to understand the rules of the house but through the love we’ve shown him he’s come to trust us and love us as well. Without particular dogs, like Logan, the category “dog” would have no meaning. It’d be an empty category referring to nothing. Think of the category “dog” you have some kind a dog in your mind, maybe a german shepherd? So without specific instances of dogs the category dog would be meaningless. Visa versa, without the category “dog” you wouldn’t know who or what “Logan”, the particular, is. Just as universals and particulars need each other, so micro-narratives and macro-narratives need each other.
The meta-narrative for the Christian worldview is that of Creation, Fall, Redemption, Consummation. God made the universe, and everything in it, good. He made man and women in His own image as the height of His creation. Mankind rebelled against God and sin entered the universe, poisoning everything, especially mankind. God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to die the death we deserve so that we could be made right with Him and know Him personally. There’s a time coming when all mankind will be judged by the standard of Jesus Christ, anyone who’s been forgiven by Jesus will spend eternity with him in the new heavens and the new earth, and those who haven’t wont. Anyone who hasn’t had their sins paid for by Jesus’ will spend eternity paying for their sins themselves. It’s because of this meta-narrative that your subjective micro-narrative is so valuable. You’ve been created by God to represent Him. Your thoughts matter, your choices matter, your feelings matter, your life matters. Without God’s meta-narrative the feet of your little story are planted in mid-air. Do you want meaning in life? I mean real purpose not an arbitrary “truth” you’ve ascribed to yourself. God is in the business of redeeming micro stories. If you admit that you’ve intentionally done wrong, sought to live your life without reference to His story and His authority, and if you put your hope in Jesus, God will move your micro-narrative from the “domain of darkness” into the “kingdom of his beloved son”. Submit your life to God and find the standards, purpose, and intrinsic value for your story through Jesus Christ for whom all things were created.
I’d like to leave you with another quote to tie it all together from C.S. Lewis,
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
Your life matters, your each and every choice matters, your opinions, your thoughts, your emotions matter, but not because you’ve decided that they do but rather because you’ve been made by the Creator of the universe. You’re somebody because He knit you together in your mother’s womb, He deserves your worship and He wants to know you. Don’t let your perceived autonomy and your valuable little micro-narrative keep you from seeing the everlasting good news. Find your true place in history by finding the historical God of Truth.