Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Immature Thinking


I don't blog about social issues very much, even though I have a lot to say about the subject. Ooooh, we don't like controversy, do we? But, I've noticed something as I've looked around lately. A lot of people have decided not to grow up.

In my family, I was considered the "late bloomer". The last of the older three to drive, to graduate from college, to marry, and at this writing, parent a family among all four and half siblings. My father urged me at the age of twenty to stop being a perpetual 16 year old. He wanted me to move on and was worried at the consequences if I didn't. At 24, I bought my second car while living in Seattle--a used 1985 Buick Skylark in a metallic gold color and soft beige suede seats. I remember a roommate at the same age as I express awe of what I had done (it involved taking a second job, doing a lot of research, visiting car lots, and driving a lot of cars) and then saying she had a hard time seeing herself take on that step of adulthood. She really didn't want to go there, she was happy where she was. I wondered if she would still be saying that at 45.

At 26, I married a real grown up, who was a grown up from the time he was 17. He pushed me along to finally grab a hold of what adulthood was. At 28, I told a friend that I finally caught up with my chronological age. I felt good. I was looking forward to my 30's, and while in my 30's I eagerly anticipated being in my 40's. So much in fact, I started to lie about my age that I was older than I was. From the time I was 37, I was telling people that I was 40.

But now I'm looking around. There seems to be a trend for 40 somethings to start dressing and behaving like they are in their twenties. The Macintosh Apple commercial features a guy representing Mac computers in his 20's while PC guy is a balding middle age looking person, and desperate to look like he's "with it" or "cool". And failing, while Mac guy gives pitying looks or glances aside, embarrassed for him. And while at the Target store, I made my husband try on jeans that were of a newer and fashionable cut, with a new fabric treatment to his howling protests. He did and hated them. He said he felt like a hobo, although I thought he looked really good. But then it caused me to wonder if I was allowing 20 year old fashion ideas color my idea of what's appropriate. Our culture values youth above everything, and it affects me as well. I really need to pay heed to this. Scriptures agree:
1 Corinthians 13: 11 (NLT) "It's like this: When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. But when I grew up, I put away childish things."

On a blog by Tim Challies, Challies Dot Com, there is a posting of a book review by Diana West, called Death of the Grown Up where she makes a legitimate case for people postponing adulthood and all its responsibilities. I really want to read this book. An excerpt of Challies' review:
Having laid a foundation for the death of the grown-up, West surveys a
variety of topics, showing how they are contributing to the downfall of society
or how they played a role in the rise of the adolescent. She looks to popular
music and entertainment, to parents who need parents, and to a society that
values excess rather than control. And then the book takes an unexpected turn.
As she moves from the past to the future, West suggests why this matters so
much; she turns to the consequences of the death of adulthood and the death
of maturity. Focusing on the ideas of multiculturalism and political
correctness, cultural forces she believes could only be accepted by an immature
society that is willing to pretend that differences are non-existent and
unimportant, she suggests that these leave us entirely unequipped to deal with
the forces seeking to destroy us. (italics mine)
And here she points
primary to Islam and to terrorism. She writes about how our immature thinking
leaves us unable to grapple with the reality of what we are facing in global
Islam. Our society sits passively by, anaesthetized with movies, music,
television and video games, while Islam plants deeper and deeper roots
within.

The Death of the Grown-Up is a compelling book. While it is certainly not
the only book examining the growth of adolescence, it is perhaps the most
far-reaching and the most courageous in its analysis of where this will and must
lead. If West is correct, our society needs to grow up and needs to do so before
it is too late. Yet whether or not you find you agree with her prescription,
only a person blind to the culture could disagree with her initial analysis. And
on this basis alone this book is worth reading and enjoying. I recommend it to
anyone with an interest in understanding the culture we find ourselves
in.


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