Tag Archives: generation

Reflections on Change and the Church

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St Paul’s Cathedral is one of those masterpieces of old architecture you come across in certain parts of England and the world, the sort of place you need know nothing about to be in awe of. I was one of two Christians on my school’s Philosophy trip to visit it; the two teachers were strong atheists and the rest of the students were either of the ‘Everyone knows God isn’t real’ hipster-atheist type or agnostics who had not given the idea much thought (until our God and the World module). Yet no matter our personal ideologies, everyone who entered that building went silent.

I’ve often wondered what it was that fell upon people in such places. Is it the idea that millions of others have walked where we walked, or that so much time had been devoted to religious art? Is it God? As a Christian, I don’t know. I do know that the Church is changing. I know that I, personally, have never been very fond of the Church anyway. Perhaps it is my history with African or ethnic churches, but I’ve always been inclined to seek God elsewhere. Today, many do. Apart from school students (my group and some primary school children), the vast majority of the worshippers I observed at the Cathedral’s Eucharist were at least over 50. The other Christian in our group, a girl, didn’t go up for Communion. In her own words, it was ‘embarrassing’ in front of the other students. Times are changing.

No matter your religion/irreligion, what do you think of the Church as a whole?

A few weeks ago, here in England, a same-sex marriage bill passed through the preliminary stages of Government approval. There was uproar from the Church, who felt their position would be weakened by it (I’m not entirely sure how, but that was one of their major complaints). A few days ago, yet another Catholic priest (Scotland, this time) stepped down from his position due to sexual misconduct. Around the same time, the Pope resigned from the Papacy (though obviously for different reasons).

I know some of you are religious, and I know that some of you are not. And that some of you are not sure. But we live in fast-changing times, and even if current change became minimal change would still happen. The world and its culture is constantly evolving, and like it or not the Church has continuously changed along with that evolution. Not that anyone would admit it, but it has. It’s members have changed too. Amongst other things, few people really believe the Bible word for word anymore and in the face of hypocrisies and controversies which have rattled the church, many have or have at least contemplated turning away.

Does this mean the death of God? Of course not. Perhaps it is the slow death of religion (well, decline, as I don’t believe religion will ever ‘die’) though, as people come to the realisation that faith in God or a god or gods is an entirely separate thing from religion. Because of this, religious institutions and believers are changing. Changing their attitudes and their behaviours and their lifestyles. They are not, though, really changing their faiths. Humans are naturally irrational creatures, and regardless of whether or not God exists we will always still believe in something ‘more’ out there. Maybe it’s God, maybe it’s nothing; maybe it’s aliens.

The Problem With Teen Writers

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No, this post will not be a long complaint about how poor teenage writing irrevocably is. Though as a teenager, I can honestly say that a lot of it sucks. I’ve seen it. I’ve edited it. I’ve been there, though I can confidently say that I’ve moved on from that.

No, this post is about how the world sees teenage writers. In my previous posts, a great number of people reacted with surprise when they learnt that I was a sixteen-year-old girl.  I’m sure some people really think I’m some balding forty-year-old guy somewhere. Because people weren’t only shocked at my approach to the subject matter, they were shocked at the grammar, punctuation, and intelligence with which I wrote. I’m no super-genius, I await my GCSE results on Thursday with bated breath. So why is it so rare to find a teenager who can write well, and write intelligibly? Why is such a thing a shock to the masses? Why is it such a shock to me?

The answer is: I don’t know.

Teenagers aren’t stupid. The times may have changed, but we haven’t actively regressed in our intelligence. Even the advent of chat-speak hasn’t significantly impaired our ability to use the English language, because some of the smartest people in my school spL lyk dis and get A*s without a problem (then again, our grading system is suspect at the best of times). Yet if a ten-year-old starts to write a novel, and you compare their writing to the average nineteen-year-old’s, you would not be able to tell the difference. That isn’t a joke, I see this everyday. You’ve probably noticed it here on WordPress–many teenage bloggers do not have the faintest idea of how to construct a sentence in regards to proper grammar and punctuation. And you’ve probably noticed the same trend amongst some bloggers in their early twenties, who have left school and even gotten through university without learning to correct this problem.

So what do we do? Let me tell you.

The biggest insult you can give a writer is that they write like a teenage girl (or Stephanie Meyer, but then that’s the same thing). Yet good teenage writers do exist, like S.E. Hinton, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Helen Oyeyemi, and some people would add Christopher Paolini, though I personally don’t think that he is. Admittedly, these people seem to be the exception to the rule, and there still exists the stigma that all teenage writers are bad, which I discourages many young people from even trying to be better. But. There are blogs. And there are talented teenager bloggers out there, and websites dedicated to helping aspiring youth writers. There are even a few competitions for us to get involved in if one looks hard enough. So I suppose what I’m really trying to say is: next time you see a good teen blogger, give ’em a pat on the back or a word of encouragement. If you meet a kid who says they’d like to be an author one day, don’t laugh and suggest something more “practical” (God I hate that). Point them to a forum, or a to competition they can enter. And try not to strangle them when they say: “Thx, LOL!”

Not Last Summer’s Riot, Last Summer’s Rut.

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Immediately, you know what this blog post is about. Not because of the media uproar last year, but rather because of the insidious reporting methods the media is using to stir up feelings and emotions again this year. For, quite aside from the Olympic reporting which comprises 90% of the July/August news (at least in the UK), many national papers have written brief, nearly identical articles about the London riots of yesteryear.

YES. This is August, granted that perhaps mention should be given a year on, especially when the events destroyed (and took) so many lives. However, surveys on the possibility of another rioting epidemic are unnecessary. Attempting to go back to the ‘roots’ of the story are unnecessary. Another debate about whether the riots were a racial issue, whether they weren’t a racial issue, is unnecessary. Especially with all the sensationalist headlines thrown in. Because that is what this is all about: sensationalism, papers hot off the print, and ultimately money. The media had a field day last August, and by God they’re looking for another one.

And it’s just a bit much.

Stripped down, to the basics, last Summer’s riots were about the youth. More importantly, the lack of correlation between the youth and other ages. “Back in the day”, our parents said, “we had to work for things.” They earned that first wage, bike, house, car. Today, we expect things. We expect that, after going to school for x years we’ll get a house, a car, and a job. A good job, not manual labour, because that’s for the immigrants (who are invading our country! WAAAHH!). God forbid you ever have to wait tables, that you’re ever in the position of listening to a senile old man enunciate his order in perfect monotony while you resist the urge to later spit in his food. Only failures end up there. And we expect to succeed, because we’ve been told as much. Because when a teacher asks a class of primary school children if they want to be a Prime Minister, and the sixteen pairs of hands fly up, you won’t hear: “Sorry kids. You didn’t go to Eton. You’re f*cked.” And so when the new, expectant generation first glimpses the great void that is to be the rest of their lives, fighting, rushing and competing to be successful because they’ve just realised that the world owes you nothing…we get riots. Because those kids want to delude themselves that they have that expected success, so they will smash and grab the things they are told are signs of success: the best shoes, a great TV, the newest iPhone. Or drugs, for a high that can make them feel on top of the world and successful. Or gangs, where they feel successful because of the group mentality, because they’ve pleased a leader or gained a reputation amongst their peers. Or just plain hedonism. Because success is whatever makes you feel good, right? Right?

It’s just a bit sad. We can’t understand the last generation, we see the success, but we expect where they have earned. Somewhere between the generations something went wrong. Maybe when the last was getting up-to-speed with new technology, wars, multiculturalism, whatever, they slipped up and forgot to help the next. Last summer’s riots? Just the first crack, the first rut, to show this problem Britain is so ready to hide. Because we Brits know how stubborn we are. And I suppose other countries view us as that tea-sipping nutter. Well, occasionally, we spill that tea. And when we’re trying to clean up, we make a bigger mess, and our nervous, characteristically sarcastic joke falls flat.