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Shocking Religious Surge Among America's Youth
Wisdom does not require chronological age
I did not plan on writing tonight.
I planned to enjoy my first gin and tonic of 2023 (it’s my summer drink), and retire to bed. I’ve been a little off all day. Tired. Had a late, 7:00-8:00 business meeting with folks in New Zealand. Nothing to say.
Then, with less than 1/3 of my G&T remaining, I saw this on the damn internet:
I read the article, which attempted to explain the surge as a result of Covid. But, I believe Covid is only a small part of the answer.
Before we get into the real reason for this surge, the story is based on a study by Springtide Research Institute that number of people aged 18 to 24 that believe in a higher power rose from 25 percent in 2021 to over 33 percent in 2023.
You might say it’s pathetic that only 1/3 of American young people believe in God—and I’d agree, but an increase from 25 percent to 33 percent in two years is rather remarkable. Belief in God is growing fast than the rate of inflation.
Now, we must explore why.
Certainly, Covid showed people young and old that belief in human institutions is futile, folly, and treacherous. Covid was a total failure of institutions. Government failed, healthcare failed, corporations failed, churches failed, police forces failed, education failed. Democracy failed. Everything failed.
Institutions invented and spread Covid. Institutions clobbered human rights over Covid. Institutions poisoned the population over Covid. Institutions gave up on themselves over Covid. Covid was the greatest human failure since the Tower of Babel.
But Covid, alone, does not explain the surge in youthful religiosity. For one, the surge came after Covid. Covid struck in 2020. By 2021, when the baseline was drawn, everything was opening up.
No, I believe Covid was only one part of the answer. The failure of institutions in general was the greater part. Why, the first members of that age cohort upon entering the adult world in 2021 undoubtedly looked around, turned to their juniors, and yelled, “go back!”
No rational creature could look at the world of 2023 and have faith in its builders. Literally, everything made by man is crumbling before our eyes. I have a mantra about it that iritates my wife to no end: everything sucks.
And everything does, indeed, suck. You will learn this the next time you move into a new home. No one you hire shows up on time, and often not at all. No corporation sells products or services that actually work. No companies provide customer service that resolves problems of their own making. No company compensates you for losses they caused you. No courts demand companies honor contracts. Nothing works right, and tomorrow everything will work less well than today. The zenith of human achievement is behind us, and everybody knows it.
Some of us with gray hair say, “I’ve seen worse,” but we’re lying. The world has never been this bad in our lifetimes. Those of us who read a lot of history might say, “it was worse under Nero or during the later crusades.” Horse hockey!
People of the first or fourteenth centuries didn’t have the technological luxuries we enjoy today, but what they had worked better. Even their government and economies worked better for the vast majority of people. A peasant in 14th century England worked only about half the days of the year, could not be conscripted in time of war, and enjoyed the favor of a king whose interventions in disputes almost always sided with the poorer party. The reason you think feudalism sucked is because the peasants didn’t write histories of feudalism; the lords and dukes whom the king ruled against did. It was the upper class, the nobles, the people who lacked the skills to grow their own food and dig their own wells who hated the Middle Ages. The royals and peasants made out like bandits, but the nobles were stuck—they could neither ascend to throne nor darn their own socks. They were totally dependent on the classes surrounding them, squeezed, as it were, by a rigid caste system, forever longing for power and fearing manual labor.
That noble class has always been the problem and it still is today. The modern equivalent of the noble class is the executive class. It’s not the billionaires—they own things. Owners are our royalty. The nobles are senior executives who don’t own the companies they work for. They will never be owner, and they can’t do the work of their employees. Can you imagine how terrified a CEO must be of his company’s IT department?
So, say you’re 22 and just landed your first job after college. With fresh eyes, you can see what I’m talking about. You know you know nothing, but these people gave you a job and responsibilities. They put money in your checking account every two weeks, despite the fact that you know you know nothing. And, even though you know nothing, you realize they know even less. You wonder how the company even stays in business. You go to meetings that have no point and no conclusion. You do required tasks that can’t possibly lead to more sales or lower costs of production. You have no idea how the company actually makes money or why anybody buys what it makes. So, you look around the internet to kill time and learn that every human institution is at least as screwed up as the company you work for.
You see prices going up. You can’t find a decent place to live that you can afford and wonder if you’ll ever leave your parents’ house. You attend a weekly Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training class in which everything sounds like made-up nonsense.
You hear that the United States is on a path to war again, but this time it’s against some third-world hell hole in the Middle East. Now, we’re trying to pick a fight with Russia and China—both of which have nuclear weapons that can reach your parents’ house in less time than your commute from work. And, unlike what you heard about in history class, the “liberal journalists” are the ones cheering for nuclear war!
At some point, you have to realize you won’t live to be your parents’ ages. You won’t need a retirement plan. The company you work for won’t exist when you’re due for a promotion.
You realize that the City of Man is collapsing.
You then have a choice: curl up and die, or move to another city.
The City of God.
When I read that Summit News article, I thought of this quote by Chesterton and shared it immediately on Twitter:
“Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all.”
The world his hopeless. Hope becomes a virtue. Some young people are wise enough to recognize that faith in man is a fool’s errand. Our help is in the name of the Lord Who made heaven and earth.
Hope is not returning; hope is descending from heaven as grace. Some young people are smart enough to let it in.
And that is news that must be shared no matter how tired, cranky, and bored I am.