Well, that’s easy: They were raised by Boomers.
No, this will not be a rant about their snow-flakiness, or just plain flakiness, as the case may be. I want to write about something which I think is a more substantial problem as it is an acid that has been eating at the core of our culture for decades. What’s wrong with Millennials (and Gen Z for that matter) is that THEY WERE RAISED WITHOUT AN OVER-ARCHING STORY (what literary types and anthropologists call a “META-NARRATIVE”) THAT GIVES MEANING TO OUR LIVES AND OUT OF WHICH WE LIVE OUR LIVES. This necessary ingredient that helps people to make sense of things and understand what is happening around them, THEY NEVER RECEIVED—partly due to poor parenting, partly due to their being spoon-fed the recommended daily allowance of multiculturalism, tolerance, and paeans to diversity that have so flooded and drowned our nation through public and higher (but really lower) education, media, and about every other institution of our rapidly fragmenting society. These “values” naturally lead to a relativistic view of all narratives making certain that none becomes “meta-,” that is, the first and foremost story above all others.
Allow me to explain. Up until, let’s say 1980, most Americans were raised in a country in which the Bible provided the overarching story for our Republic. Together with this meta-narrative was woven a story about our nation’s founding which was largely positive. I say, “largely,” because, regardless of what the crusaders of CRT say, even this white boy who was educated in public schools from 1970-82 in the deep South (Georgia) learned about slavery, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights Movement; that is, none of these are secrets that were just discovered, though I do confess that we were not forced to call ourselves racists. (I suppose our teachers thought ten year-olds weren’t culpable for crimes their parents and grandparents committed. How backward of them!)
But I digress. Millennials may be the first generation in this country who were raised with no meta-narrative, only disjointed narratives, that is, a bunch of competing stories. I suppose the closest thing to a meta-narrative they share as a generation would be the kitch of J. K. Rowling. But be that as it may, they certainly did not as a generation grow up with the meta-narrative of Christianity: Creation, Adam and Eve, fall, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, David, prophets, Jesus Christ, cross, resurrection, ascension, apostles, church age, return, heaven and hell. And as far as church history is concerned, forget it, unless it’s to lay sole blame on Christians for the Crusades. Oh, they’ve heard of Jesus, but they know next to nothing about him in a doctrinal way. If he is a savior, it is with a little “s,” and not in any exclusive manner (such would be intolerant), and his is a story like any other, one among many, which any may choose as he shops the various dishes in the never-ending American smorgasbord. No wonder people under forty are our most non-religious group: For them Christianity is simply another story, the one their grandparents liked to talk about.
But that doesn’t mean millennials don’t like stories; on the contrary, they love them, which stands to reason given that they have no over-arching story. Theirs is the sad and befuddling search for a meta-narrative in a nation where the elite refuse to let them have one. Oh, I’m not arguing that they know they’re searching for one; I ARGUE THAT NO ONE CAN LIVE AND NO NATION CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT ONE. Each person must live his or her life out of some narrative to make sense of reality; we used to call them myths. Besides the contemporary myths standing in for creation (evolution) and the end times (environmentalism), multiculturalism, diversity, and tolerance leave nothing in the middle to live by but disjointed, one-size-fits-one, stories that offer nothing in the way of personal fulfillment but only a God-sized hole that autonomous, empty individuals fill with their own delusional, manufactured, and perverted identities.
To sum, the vast majority of people under forty in this country—and sad to say, even those raised in a church—have no idea who they are, where they are going, where they fit, how they fit, what their purpose is, or why they were even born. Tolerance, multiculturalism, and diversity neither make nor build a people. They are intentionally empty terms so that one may then define himself according to his own passions, and so long as he does not judge anyone else or break a law, his passions may be as base as he pleases.
This is what happens when a people abandon (even crush) their own meta-narrative—an overarching story that defines them and out of which they live as individuals and as a body politic. I do feel very badly for young people, for I do not see things getting any better—which means they will continue their gloomy outlook on life identifying themselves as victims while our nation continues to fragment into literally millions of competing stories. Those churches which still cling to Scripture and the teaching delivered once for all to the saints will have to create their own subculture to survive by staying close together, educating their own children so that they know their meta-narrative, and keeping them close by. But I tackled that in another essay a few months ago. For now, I remain your humble scribe.