Tag Archives: tribalism

Facebook’s 56 Genders: Group Identity and Positioning in a Millennial America

by Ryan Mayo

Abstract: The millennial generation tends to see social realities primarily through the lens of group identity and inter-group relations, which often shapes the dialogue in unhelpful and distorted ways.  Facebook’s expansion of gender options in 2014 highlights the moral fuzziness at play in some Millennial perspectives regarding the current issues of inequality, identity, and marginalization.  

In 50 years, it may be difficult to sort out the legacy of the Millennial generation1 on the American cultural landscape2.  Millennials will certainly be commended for their collective bravery in social movements, as nearly every “marginalized” group is rapidly becoming “unmarginalized”.  Our great-grandchildren will read that homosexuality, for example, has gone from a psychiatric disorder to an acceptable – even championed – lifestyle in just two generations3.  Either by inheriting the social inertia of their parents or by developing their own activist muscles, Millennials are currently shaking the world.

Perhaps, though, in our haste to normalize each and every minority status with respect to race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, religion, weight, ability, and intelligence, the courageous Millennials are displaying laziness in asking fundamental questions.  Is progress always progress if we’re unsure of the goal?  Is it a moral good that a human being can publicly identify in a category that didn’t exist 20 years ago?  Who are the gatekeepers for legitimizing an orientation or an experience?

Continue reading

Skipping Church: Donald Miller and Disconnecting

One of my favorite childhood books was called If Everybody Did (Jo Ann Stover).  The plot was simple:  the left side of the page featured a questionable ethical decision while the right side showed what society would look like “if everybody did” that same thing.  These offenses ranged from littering to squeezing a cat too hard.  For example:

Jo Ann Stover, 1989

I’ll admit that I still think of this book and its simple lessons in ethics whenever a prominent writer offers unorthodox visions of what Christianity should look like.  If Everybody Did provides a helpful grid to think through the logical implications of Christians acting en masse.

This week Donald Miller wrote an admittedly ill-advised piece on how he prefers to skip out on his local church.  After significant backlash from the internet world, including The Gospel Coalition, Miller attempted to clarify his statements and diffuse some of the frustration.  Best known for his 2002 book Blue Like Jazz:  non-religious thoughts on Christian spirituality, Miller captured the non-committal heart of millennial Christians who liked Jesus and spirituality but either resented or ignored the traditional church experiences.   He is no stranger to controversy when it comes to church doctrine.

This particular piece focused on Miller’s dissatisfaction with local expressions of church and worship.  He confesses that he doesn’t “feel connected to God through singing” and doesn’t “learn much about God hearing a sermon.”  He adds that he’s just like “most men” in his frustrations with traditional church services.  Miller also finds fault with the way the message is given, citing his studies of psychology to demonstrate that lecturing only appeals to a small portion of the audience.  Lastly, he admits that he rarely attends church, choosing instead to connect with God most intimately and most often through his work, since “church is all around, not to be confined to a specific tribe.”

Continue reading