By Ernesto Tinajero
A.O. Scott is right about the death of adulthood in his insightful but flawed essay, “The Death of Adulthood in American Culture.” He also seems to be cheeky as to the demise of adulthood. His view of being an adult has to do with responsibility and he paints a drab image that only a teen-man could envision. His examples of Don Draper and Walter White as the model of what has been lost and how we shake our head at this exploits us, even as we are excited by them. But, Scott misses the point. Don Draper is the perfect example of the old phrase, ‘boys will be boys,’ and is the very thing Scott says we glorify: an adult overheating by staying a teenager.
When Mr. Scott points to Huck Finn being able to point to contradictions to the adult world in general, and in particular the institution of slavery, we forget that it took an adult in Abraham Lincoln to end slavery. Being a perpetual teenager avoiding responsibilities for goofing around with your friends seems a better life than one of responsibility and doing a job whether you like it or not. Place in this framework, as Scott does, the conclusion he reaches of be the teenager until you are too old, like CK Louis seems to think is the best we can do. But, to be a perpetual teenager means to miss out in a lot of life. Only adults can have that is great passion, great love and great accomplishments. A more mature faith in Jesus makes a true life. Only adult men can experience great romance. These are the domain of adulthood and to avoid adulthood is to make superficial you a daily existence. Peter Pan is lost in his own playtime.
This brings me to Mark Driscoll and the mystery of his ministry. Where did his success come from? If you break down his message we can see his message plays to those men who want to stay boys. Here is a summary of his claims:
- Jesus is your bud and you can have a bromance with him. He is really cool like a MMA fighter and look at Revelation and see that this dude comes in and kicks some big time tush. He is one tough Hollywood action figure.
- Girls are yucky and you have to show them whose the boss. They really like being told what to do. If you actually think of them as adults, you are a whipped loser.
- Sex, man, sex is cool.
- Calvin is really cool dude like your grandpa.
What he offered was a Gospel of Bromance with Jesus or be a teenager avoiding adulthood through following Jesus. The message took off as boys who love to play really don’t like Jesus as the Way, Truth and Life. They are too busy playing pretend games. A Jesus to be out bro, yes, but Jesus as the Creator of the Universe, not so much.
We need to know we are preaching into a culture that could be best called a culture of Kidults, but the Gospel calls us to put aside childish ways and that means to be Christian is to move beyond the kiddy version found in much of contemporary culture and many ministries today. If the church is to grow it has to become a mature faith.