The Bible and the Headlines:
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By David Bachelor, PhD
There was a Dickensian feel to a thread in recent headlines. Instead of the Ghost of Christmas Past, the spirit making its appearance in the news was the Ghost of Boomers’ Past. This spirit seeks to impart wisdom from the Boomers (those born from 1946 to 1964) to Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) and the members of Gen Z (those born from 1997 to 2012). Like Scrooge in The Christmas Carol, Millennials and Gen Z wish the Ghost of Boomers’ Past would take their message elsewhere.
On March 12th, Yahoo Finance carried the story, “Gen Z May Be Missing Out on Learning These 5 Old-School Skills that Boomers Take for Granted — Are They Valuable Bits of Vintage Wisdom or Relics of a Bygone Era?” The five Boomer skills are reading a map, writing cursive, balancing a checkbook, driving a stick-shift and being in the same room with the person you ask out for a date. Since Gen Z currently has apps that provide the end result for four of the five skills, and the fifth (driving a stick-shift) is irrelevant on 99% of U.S. cars (and 100% irrelevant on electric cars) the Boomers’ wisdom holds no attraction unless the technology grid collapses.
The consumer savings website Cheapism.com on March 22 featured, “18 Things Boomers Need to Stop Saying to Millennials About Money.” As recipients of unsolicited (and unwanted) advice from Boomers, Gen Z was clumped together with Millennials in this piece. The 18 things broadly fit in the category of delayed gratification (i.e., Don’t spend money you don’t have). The only thing Boomers say not to wait on is having kids. Many Millennials are willing to delay gratifying that urge.
For Millennials who do have children, Boomers seem to repeat one piece of advice ad nauseum. On March 22, MSM.com featured, “Millennials Outraged as Boomers Recommend Rice Cereal for Babies – Here’s Why.” The article is based on Millennials’ rants on the social media platform Reddit about the apparent Boomer conspiracy to make babies ingest rice cereal. The flaw to inquiring about Boomer habits on Reddit is the near vacuum of Boomer spokespersons to explain the benefit of the cereal. Instead, other Millennials opine, “[It’s] just a way to make them [Boomers] feel helpful. My mom recommended it too and I was just like “ok cool thanks” and never gave it to mine.”
The various generations did not have trendy labels in the Bible, but different age groups often gave advice that conflicted with the counsel of a person’s peers. The example of disparate counsel based on age grouping which is still having repercussions today is found in 1 Kings 12. This chapter is about the succession of King Rehoboam to the throne after the death of his father, Solomon. The “Boomers” in this passage are the old men who were counselors to King Solomon. When the citizens of the nation asked King Rehoboam to lower their taxes (v.4), Solomon’s former counselors advised King Rehoboam to grant this request (v.7). Rehoboam’s childhood friends now had access to the palace. They told King Rehoboam to reject the public’s request (v.10) and tell the people he was going to tax them even more (v.11). King Rehoboam took the advice of his peers and threatened the people (v.14). Because their petition was rejected the aggrieved citizens started a new kingdom (v.16). Hostility towards the family of David is present in Israel to this day (v.19).
In the Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Future Christmas’ is able to show Scrooge the consequences of his choices. Seeing the consequences, Scrooge repents. Maybe if King Rehoboam had seen the future brought on by his decision, he might have taken a different course. No one can show Millennials and Gen Z the future, but it will not hurt them to learn from the Boomers’ past what worked and what didn’t work.