Future of Catholicism
Save the Boomers, Save the World: Redeeming Culture
History is devastatingly cyclical. The Boomers made the case that they should end their marriages and abort their children for the God Expediency. Their children, stripped of any attachment to a moral framework, will eye the old grey hairs, drooling and in diapers -- but certainly still sneering -- and consider expedient "Death with Dignity" to be a sensible and pragmatic policy. The Church must use all media to reach these new cultural power brokers, and to penetrate the commanding subconscious voices of their parents; she must teach them that the breakdown of the Boomers will require patience, heroism, and long-suffering.
How can we help the younger generations break out of the resentment and emotional disconnect that has come from being the children of the Boomers? Decades of being abandoned, let down, and embarrassed has engulfed us in a new society that sneers at its own impulse to hope and dream. Survey most of the "adult" characters in today's popular entertainment for a scary cultural temperature. The parents in the global phenomenon Twilight are immature, emotionally needy, and insecure. The "adults" in Harry Potter's world are mostly needy, clueless, and ultimately oppressive to the younger generation.
I suspect the only way to reach the Millennials and Gen Xers, from a spiritual standpoint, will be with a powerful, renewed ethic of the value of suffering and the urgent need for forgiveness. We need hero stories perhaps more urgently than any generation of humanity that has come before.
The Church needs to give serious, thoughtful, and weighty commitment to a whole-hearted engagement of the arts. Dostoevsky's notion, "Man will be saved by Beauty" now seems prophetic. Human society will either be saved by beauty or lost, as men cease to be men and become boorish beasts, scratching and burping like the bloated creatures in Pixar's Wall-E. Those young artists who are making films like Juno and Superbad write characters displaying good instincts under pressure, but possessing a bittersweet befuddlement that has them stumbling into the good choices, because their relativistic upbringing gave such little direction.
The Church needs to come alongside artists, to pray for them and form them so they can inspire us and our future. We need beauty -- in music, in story, in visual art, in oratory -- to frame a restored vision of human life and dignity.
It isn't going to happen by accident. Let the church get her own house in order, in the area of art and story. We will have to wage war against the egalitarian impulse that has trumped excellence so often in the Boomers' reign. We will have to fight against the legacy of sloth and greed that will keep us from mastery of craft and full investment in the beautiful.
As cultural drivers, the Boomers have done a tremendous amount of damage, but the Good News is that in the Divine Economy, it is never "too late."
Barbara Nicolosi is a screenwriter with an M.A. in Cinema from Northwestern University. She is the co-writer of the 2011 Lionsgate/MGM release Mary, Mother of the Christ, wrote Polosuasion for IMMI Pictures, and is currently writing Fatima, Miracle and Message for Origin Entertainment. She is an adjunct professor of cinema in the Seaver Graduate School at Pepperdine University and lectures on cinema and screenwriting at universities and conferences around the world.
Barbara was the Founding Director, and is now the Chair, Emeritus of the acclaimed Act One Program in Hollywood, CA. As such, she has been instrumental in launching hundreds of young people into Hollywood careers as writers, producers, and executives. Barbara has also worked in the industry as a Director of Project Development, a documentary researcher, a theater producer, and as a consultant on features and television shows including The Passion of the Christ, A Foreign Affair, and Saving Grace. She is the co-editor of the 2006 Baker Books release Behind the Screen: Hollywood Insiders on Faith and Culture, and blogs at Church of the Masses.
Read Patheos' earlier interview with Barbara Nicolosi Harrington here.