Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Generation M Manifesto

posted by Scot McKnight

From Umair Haque… Harvard Business Publishing:

Dear Old People Who Run the World,
My generation would like to break up with you.
Everyday, I see a widening gap in how you and we understand the world — and what we want from it. I think we have irreconcilable differences.
You wanted big, fat, lazy “business.” We want small, responsive, micro-scale commerce.
You turned politics into a dirty wordWe want authentic, deep democracy — everywhere.
You wanted financial fundamentalism. We want an economics that makes sense for people — not just banks.
You wanted shareholder value — built by tough-guy CEOsWe want real value, built by people with character, dignity, and courage.
You wanted an invisible hand — it became a digital hand. Today’s markets are those where the majority of trades are done literally roboticallyWe want a visible handshake: to trust and to be trusted.

You wanted growth — faster. We want to slow down — so we can become better.

You didn’t care which communities were capsized, or which lives were sunkWe want a rising tide that lifts all boats.

You wanted to biggie size life: McMansions, Hummers, and McFood. We want to humanize life.

You wanted exurbs, sprawl, and gated anti-communities. We want a society built on authentic community.

You wanted more money, credit and leverage — to consume ravenously. We want to be great at doing stuff thatmatters.

You sacrificed the meaningful for the material: you sold out the very things that made us great for trivial gewgaws, trinkets, and gadgets. We’re not for sale: we’re learning to once again do what is meaningful.

There’s a tectonic shift rocking the social, political, and economic landscape. The last two points above are what express it most concisely. I hate labels, but I’m going to employ a flawed, imperfect one: Generation “M.”

What do the “M”s in Generation M stand for? The first is for a movement. It’s a little bit about age — but mostly about a growing number of people who are acting very differently. They are doing meaningful stuff that matters the most. Those are the second, third, and fourth “M”s.

Gen M is about passion, responsibility, authenticity, and challenging yesterday’s way of everything. Everywhere I look, I see an explosion of Gen M businesses, NGOs, open-source communities, local initiatives, government. Who’s Gen M?Obama, kind of. Larry and Sergey. The ThreadlessEtsy, and Flickr guysEv, Biz and the Twitter crew. Tehran 2.0. The folks at KivaTalking Points Memo, and FindtheFarmerShigeru MiyamotoSteve JobsMuhammad Yunus, and Jeff Sachs are like the grandpas of Gen M. There are tons where these innovators came from.

Gen M isn’t just kind of awesome — it’s vitally necessary. If you think the “M”s sound idealistic, think again.

The great crisis isn’t going away, changing, or “morphing.” It’s the same old crisis — and it’s growing.

You’ve failed to recognize it for what it really is. It is, as I’ve repeatedly pointed out, in our institutions: the rules by which our economy is organized.

But they’re your institutions, not ours. You made them — and they’re broken. Here’s what I mean:

“… For example, the auto industry has cut back production so far that inventories have begun to shrink — even in the face of historically weak demand for motor vehicles. As the economy stabilizes, just slowing the pace of this inventory shrinkage will boost gross domestic product, or GDP, which is the nation’s total output of goods and services.”

Clearing the backlog of SUVs built on 30-year-old technology is going to pump up GDP? So what? There couldn’t be a clearer example of why GDP is a totally flawed concept, an obsolete institution. We don’t need more land yachts clogging our roads: we need a 21st Century auto industry.

I was (kind of) kidding about seceding before. Here’s what it looks like to me: every generation has a challenge, and this, I think, is ours: to foot the bill for yesterday’s profligacy — and to create, instead, an authentically, sustainably shared prosperity.

Anyone — young or old — can answer it. Generation M is more about what you do and who you are than when you were born. So the question is this: do you still belong to the 20th century – or the 21st?

Love,

Umair and the Edge Economy Community

PS – Fire away in the comments with thoughts, questions, or — because I’ve left a ton of awesomeness out of this post — more examples of Gen M people and organizations.



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Ted M. Gossard

posted October 13, 2009 at 2:36 pm


I like this and applaud the thoughts of a younger generation. We need that energy and idealism and the insight that comes with it. Even though it is common, and really each generation seems to fail to live up to its ideals in the long term.
But maybe out of the tell tale signs and realities we are now facing will come something better. Hopefully not out of something worse which looms ahead.
But I’m afraid only the hardest knocks will get people to be open and accepting of needed change. And I’m just afraid we’re not there yet. And with the upturn most economists see now, I’m afraid everyone will want to return as much as possible to business as usual.



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dopderbeck

posted October 13, 2009 at 2:42 pm


Umm, and, when you’re done reading the Manifesto I blogged instead of getting up for work this morning, could you make me a peanut butter sandwich, pay my college tuition bill, and lend me ten bucks for the movies?



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Travis Greene

posted October 13, 2009 at 3:34 pm


dopderbeck,
That’s pretty uncharitable. At least add a :) so it seems light-hearted. Should we get off your lawn as well? :)



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Barb

posted October 13, 2009 at 3:35 pm


Hard not to want to push back
I love that they aren’t for sale–Why does it take a U-Haul to get them to college when I could get there in my VW bug?



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Derek Leman

posted October 13, 2009 at 3:52 pm


Hmm, how can this type of utopia be mandated or encouraged to happen through human government?
Great ideas. No plan I can see for implementation.
The masses vote with their feet to buy $5 mp3 players and $20 DVD players and t-shirts made by Indonesian children.
The government is worse than the masses. Where communism has been the stated ideal, terror has reigned and not utopia.
I am a political know-nothing, but the slightly more than zero I know says this is naive.



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Ryan B.

posted October 13, 2009 at 3:58 pm


When someone from the younger generation states an ideal or issues a challenge, why does the older generation feel the need to strike it down? Why are the dreams of our younger brothers and sisters dismissed as naive?



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JMorrow

posted October 13, 2009 at 4:17 pm


Ryan (#6) Amen! After all, its a manifesto, not the constitution or the US Civil Code. Chillax folks! But feel at least alittle inspired. I sure do. Kudos for the author giving a hat tip to many innovative companies, organizations and personalities. As member of the M Generation, I get what he’s aiming for even if specifics or 5 point plans aren’t there.



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dopderbeck

posted October 13, 2009 at 4:37 pm


Travis (#3) — yeah, and I would’ve gotten away with my lack of charity if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids.



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Larry

posted October 13, 2009 at 4:41 pm


When someone from the younger generation states an ideal or issues a challenge, why does the older generation feel the need to strike it down? Why are the dreams of our younger brothers and sisters dismissed as naive?
Because they are largely the same ideas, feeling and intuitions that the older generation had when they were young, and for most part they let the world “knock some sense into their heads”. Remember that the old guys who run the world now were the 1960’s Flower Children. These ideas aren’t the product of single generation so much, as a product of youth. This doesn’t mean they are bad, and I think that bringing a lot of the boomers back to their youthful idealism would be a good thing, just that it is a mistake to credit these ideas to a given generation. The above manifesto, minus some of the “digital” parts, could have just as easily been written by a 1960’s hippie.



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Keith

posted October 13, 2009 at 4:46 pm


The vision written about sounds a little like socialism. Didn’t the USSR prove that socialism doesn’t work? The small business idea is good. It’s been around since 1620.



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Larry

posted October 13, 2009 at 4:50 pm


Disliking big corporations and banks doesn’t make one a socialist.



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Joey

posted October 13, 2009 at 4:56 pm


Brilliant.



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Your Name

posted October 13, 2009 at 4:57 pm


Reminds me of the 60’s. I also remember listening with my dad who came to age in the 30’s to a lecture on how different the new genration was and his comment was, “Nothing new. We felt the same when I was young.
I do not mean to disparage the idealism but rather to wonder what life does to it.



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Michael W. Kruse

posted October 13, 2009 at 4:58 pm


Except for the update in the technology, how does this differ from what people my age (high school and college in the ’70s) were saying when we were in our teens and twenties? (Club of Rome Report, “Small is Beautiful,” “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger,” John Howard Yoder, etc.)
My problem isn’t that I disagree with everything here. It is that we have been here before and this type of idealism didn’t solve the problems then either. It isn’t innovative. It’s retro. We are just riding the pendulum. I get over how late 1970s the world feels right now. Those under thirty aren’t old enough to have experienced when the pendulum had swung this direction before. It is a parochialism of the present … believing that because ideas are new to you, they must be new. Every generation becomes afflicted by it.
Rather than simply ridding the pendulum, it would be great if we followers of Christ could discern and lead for once.



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Jack

posted October 13, 2009 at 5:05 pm


Well, I have to say that I like this. I see it almost every where I turn. And, while it MAY be naive, I think it is inspiring. GenM inspires me and I see hints of an ancient way of seeing within it.
However, I wouldn’t put Steve Jobs on the list for GenM. Community built Linux systems (like Ubuntu or Fedora or openSUSE), that are Free and Open Source, is more in line with the manifesto. Apple is a lot more of the same but wrapped in a pretty GenM package. [Try to sync anything other than an iPod/iPhone with iTunes and see what happens.]
~~~
In the Grace of the Three in One,
Jack



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Ryan B.

posted October 13, 2009 at 5:19 pm


Many of the critiques of this Manifesto are overtly negative. Since this is “nothing new,” should the young (“Generation M”)just sit down and fall in line with their predecessors? Why even participate in the discussions on the Jesus Creed Blog? Why even pay attention to changes within society and church if this is all the same rhetoric dressed up in a different package?



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Larry

posted October 13, 2009 at 5:30 pm


Many of the critiques of this Manifesto are overtly negative
Not really, but every generation thinks this way when they are young, and thinks they are the first people to ever come up with stuff like this. I actually like much of what the manifesto says, but if the critiques are negative toward the younger people, the manifesto is _very_ negative towards the older generations, who for the most part thought the same way when they were young.



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Michael W. Kruse

posted October 13, 2009 at 5:30 pm


#16 Ryan B.
“Since this is “nothing new,” should the young (“Generation M”)just sit down and fall in line with their predecessors?”
No. Just be discerning and resist binary thinking (Good/Bad, Either/Or). I used the pendulum analogy and I didn’t say the other end of the pendulum was any better.
Look for that which is genuinely transforming. Part of the discernment begins with understanding the past.



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JMorrow

posted October 13, 2009 at 6:24 pm


I’m generally surprised by the pushback here. I’m glad as well as cautioned by the resonance between that manifesto and those of generations that have come before. But that doesn’t mean that people who are encouraged by this are in danger of treating it as Gospel. I think many of the “M”s are quite discerning. When you get past his CNBC, Jim Kramer-esque style and run down the list of points, I think this is a nod to social entrepreneurs, to people who are doers, not just talkers, people who are willing to invest their lives and livelihoods into their vision. If they can be a model for others, more power to them. This emerging generation has been foreshadowed as a “Builder” generation, much like their WWII era counterparts. I think that is partly our own internal disposition, but also in part the simple fact that maybe of the social institutions we’ve been given are giving way and won’t last very long in their current forms. It’s not necessarily that we’re clamoring for change, so much as change has been thrust upon us.



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Jeremy Berg

posted October 13, 2009 at 7:44 pm


My problem with the older generations calling the younger too “idealistic” is that, for them, the opposite of “idealistic” has not typically been “realistic” (as would be expected and welcome), but rather an unfettered, mechanical “pragmatism” that didn’t always count the potential human and environmental cost.
To be honest, as a conservative Christian growing up in a very pragmatic midwestern, politically conservative blue-collar home, I was quite comfortable in my worldview — until I met Jesus, that is.
Studying the teachings of Jesus in college and seminary challenged my pragmatic, republican outlook and pushed me towards a “Kingdom idealism”. For nothing he did or taught made much practical sense (as conventional wisdom goes). The last will be first. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Consider other’s interests above your own. Go the second mile when treated unjustly. Overcoming evil with good (not power?). Cross trumps sword. A criminal’s execution topples Caesar’s empire. Blessed are the poor, meek…
Jesus made me an idealist. The question is not whether we are an IDEALIST or REALIST or PRAGMATIST. The question is: From whose vantage point? Ours or God’s? For “Has not God made foolish (or naive, idealistic?) the wisdom (realism?) of the world?” (1 Cor 1:20)
Above all, though, let Generation M become characterized by humility as well as authenticity and show due gratitude to our elders who have done their best with what they had. We too shall fall short of our ideals when Generation Next writes their complaint in 30 years.
Peace!



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Jeremy Berg

posted October 13, 2009 at 7:46 pm


My problem with the older generations calling the younger too “idealistic” is that, for them, the opposite of “idealistic” has not typically been “realistic” (as would be expected and welcome), but rather an unfettered, mechanical “pragmatism” that didn’t always count the potential human and environmental cost.
To be honest, as a conservative Christian growing up in a very pragmatic midwestern, politically conservative blue-collar home, I was quite comfortable in my worldview — until I met Jesus, that is.
Studying the teachings of Jesus in college and seminary challenged my pragmatic, republican outlook and pushed me towards a “Kingdom idealism”. For nothing he did or taught made much practical sense (as conventional wisdom goes). The last will be first. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Consider other’s interests above your own. Go the second mile when treated unjustly. Overcoming evil with good (not power?). Cross trumps sword. A criminal’s execution topples Caesar’s empire. Blessed are the poor, meek…
Jesus made me an idealist. The question is not whether we are an IDEALIST or REALIST or PRAGMATIST. The question is: From whose vantage point? Ours or God’s? What’s more effective in the end: worldly pragmatism or “kingdom idealism”? For “Has not God made foolish (or naive, idealistic?) the wisdom (realism?) of the world?” (1 Cor 1:20)
Above all, though, let Generation M become characterized by humility as well as authenticity and show due gratitude to our elders who have done their best with what they had. We too shall fall short of our ideals when Generation Next writes their complaint in 30 years.
Peace!



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Michael W. Kruse

posted October 13, 2009 at 8:30 pm


JMorrow #19
Sounds to me like you’ve been reading some of the generational stuff by folks like Strauss and Howe. I think it has merit.
I’m a trailing edge Boomer and most of my early life was watching those a little older than I am engage in idealistic, take-no-prisoners, causes (left and right). They became distracted with children and careers through much of ’80s and ’90s but I think they now hear the mortality clock ticking (just Strauss and Howe said they would) and are now on a mission to finish the idealistic visions they never completed. In surveys on polarizing issues, Boomers are frequently the most passionately in favor and opposed to the same issue. It is a contentious divided generation. People talk about the rancor in national politics today. I say welcome to Boomers in charge. :-) In the meantime, M Generation emerges with its idealistic visions of making the world over again.
Both from temperament and generational position I look to those just older than I am and the generation that is just emerging and frequently wonder if the world has gone insane. :-) Strauss and Howe talk about Gen X, trapped between the two generations, offering the pragmatic non-nonsense moderating influence on these two generations. I think they generally have it right or at least it feels that way. Each generation makes its contributions and creates a new set of problems.



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dopderbeck

posted October 13, 2009 at 8:35 pm


Seriously….. this is a nice Manifesto. Yet it sounds like it’s written by someone who hasn’t ever suffered. I want to hear what the writer says when he/she is dealing with unmanageable deadlines, a crushing workload, and a family to support. I want to see the idealism when his/her kid is in the hospital for the fifth time this year hooked up to electrodes because the kid’s brain isn’t working right. I want to note what this person has to say when his/her physical and/or mental health is broken like dried out branch in a thunderstorm. I’d like to talk with this writer when he/she is betrayed by people once thought to be friends.
Manifesto dude, I got news for you: life is hard. You can’t get through this life without having to make tough choices that are far less than ideal, you can’t achieve whatever you want to if you just put your mind to it, and God often seems inexplicably silent in the face of your suffering and the suffering of the world. Job and Ecclesiastes are as much a part of inspired scripture as Philippians 4:13. The good news is that Philippians 4:13 is in there too. But come back to me with your criticisms when you’ve been seasoned a bit by the wisdom of loss.



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RJS

posted October 13, 2009 at 8:55 pm


The problem with this document is that it isn’t a manifesto – and it is as much a rant against elders as it is a statement of views and purposes. Even if the views and purposes are good (and most here are) – the rant is guaranteed to get a poor reaction.
Here is the general thread throughout the entire piece.
You want – (bad thing), we want – (good thing)
You act (selfish thing), we act (altruistic thing)
Now come on – who wouldn’t take such a rant poorly when one is a member of the “old people” (even if not running the world)?
Such a statement framed as a true manifesto – in a positive fashion could be a beautiful thing.



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pam w

posted October 13, 2009 at 9:43 pm


wow!!!
I checked in here to see what Scot had posted today, and was quite excited to see he posted the Gen M Manifesto. I know some of the ‘kids’ who wrote this and was incredibly excited it got so much press. I just want to cry seeing the responses here. I speak on these issues all the time, and it is in the church where I get the most argument that this is idealistic. Well then, Jesus was apparently a childish idealist. One has to realize though, only idealists have made significant positive change in the world. Now, yes, it is a rant and it needs to move to pictures of what can be. But this generation has the right to rant. When I go speak to students about economic, social, and environmental sustainability, they ask “why aren’t the leaders leading?”
I am a Baby Boomer, and very disappointed in my generation. This generation in their 20’s right now are inheriting issues that no generation has dealt with in the history of the planet!! Every living system is in decline, technology has landed in a global village we have never experienced, and the natural resources do not exist for the rest of the world to consume at current US level. I work with the social entrepreneurs, business leaders, investors, ecologists…who recognize the truth of these statements and are doing amazing things to create businesses that are ‘for benefit’. This is so not socialism!!!!!! I am so flippin tired of people claiming socialism when we are talking about changing all of our systems so they don’t just benefit the elite few at the top. This is about us recognizing the free market is not free unless the consumers and investors (all of you who have 401k’s) are educated about what their are choosing to support!
These ‘kids’ at Harvard know that they could put their heads in the sand and go to work at the top companies and still make a lot of money until everything crashes. They – because they are at HBS – more than any young person have that entre even in this economy. They have been learning the ropes and being groomed to run our current corrupt systems. I applaud their courage!!!! The boomers marched for civil rights, but then the 80’s, 90’s hit and we jumped full on into the systems that put us at the top. Of course we don’t want to change those systems, but we are leaving a huge mess to the next generations. If we are not going to take the responsibility to lead in this very important work, we need to get out of the way and create the space for this next generation to change things. This is about justice, dignity, and the flourishing of life on the planet. I am a capitalist, and I believe capitalism can work if it is conscious capitalism. The businesses are doing amazing things, but corporate law must change, and we must start to honor the idealists who have the ability to create new systems.
I could post all kinds of examples of the new economy in the works, and it is exciting!! I’m so sad the church is one of the leading voices arguing that it can’t happen. That is the reason the next generation won’t step foot in the church in my circles: doesn’t line up with their values of justice. They look at the teachings of Jesus and understand the importance of the Manifesto. They listen to leaders in the church say ‘that’s too idealistic’.
Oy vey! Thanks to the younger leaders who have stepped in to this conversation!!! Thank you, thank you. Since this is my daily passion, I have a strong emotional response. There is so much passion, creativity and potential if we harness the idealism for the realities before us. We need the best and the brightest minds from thinking together about these global crises, and that means all generations.



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Michael W. Kruse

posted October 13, 2009 at 10:32 pm


#24 RJS
Well said.
One of the hallmarks of Boomers has been the us/them, you’re evil we’re righteous, attitude that has pervaded their crusades. I don’t care what the problems are in our future, if this divisive mindset is now also the mindset of M, as evidenced by this post, then the future is not a bright one.



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pam w

posted October 13, 2009 at 11:14 pm


Michael and RJS – Whose responsibility is it to press forward with new models of communication? If they only have an ?us/them? language, it is because it is what they learned. How can they see another way to communicate? We can’t afford to ignore their words and their passion because they delivered it the same way they see our generation deliver information.
“One of the hallmarks of Boomers has been the us/them, you’re evil we’re righteous, attitude that has pervaded their crusades”.
Yes, and so they got no support from their parents’ generation to shift things. Riots happened, still older generations didn’t listen. Most everything being fought for using that poor method has become accepted as good moral actions for a society (ending segregation, women’s rights.) 40 years later. How do we respond in new and different ways to this generation? They see things we can’t see. We see things they can’t. The ones who can understand need to lead the way to better communication
My experience is this younger generation jumps much more quickly to collaborative generative solutions. They need to get the attention of those in power though. These responses continue the ?us/them, evil/righteous? positioning. I say let?s support this generation and say ‘we inherited these systems also, but we ignored the warnings and we all need to work together to change them?.



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RJS

posted October 14, 2009 at 1:05 am


Pam W,
I still think that it would help the smart Harvard (and other) “kids” to learn how to inspire change.
I agree with a fair amount of the sentiment and idealism. But it is still unwise to write a “manifesto” that spends more time describing how others are wrong than is actually spent casting a vision.
If you read my comment that was the whole thrust – not get real, but learn how to communicate and cast vision.
Obama wouldn’t be president and would have no chance to make a difference if the approach had been to demolish bonds rather than to build bridges.



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Nitika

posted October 14, 2009 at 2:05 am


Re: Except for the update in the technology, how does this differ from what people my age (high school and college in the ’70s) were saying when we were in our teens and twenties? (Club of Rome Report, “Small is Beautiful,” “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger,” John Howard Yoder, etc.)
The “update in technology” is the key difference. All this great stuff can be done without any loss of MY standard of living… Only need to “rightly” define desired outcomes… Technology will save us… Somehow this still sounds like a defense of the doctrine of efficiency.



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Duane

posted October 14, 2009 at 5:59 am


In this context check out David Hayward’s latest cartoon over at “the naked pastor.”



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Ted M. Gossard

posted October 14, 2009 at 9:47 am


Yes, I agree with the sentiments here that an us/them mentality just doesn’t get it. Wise words in this thread, indeed.



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Dr. Robin Dugall

posted October 14, 2009 at 10:51 am


I may not “like” it but it does state where alot of people are…the old people comment actually made me laugh. Anyway brother, thanks for posting it…I immediately moved it to my blog…great fodder for conversation!
In Jesus,
Robin



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dopderbeck

posted October 14, 2009 at 11:23 am


Pam (#25) — Harumph, I say, as I settle my aging 40+-year-old frame into my Aeron chair. Wait till those HBS kids with the silver spoons in their mouths face a crisis for which they have to take real personal responsibility. In theological terms, wait till they come to realize that the world is sinful and corrupt to the core. There are no ideal choices in this world, only real, hard choices; there are very few positive revolutionary changes, only difficult, incremental ones. We all have to grow up and face our limitations eventually.
Now, excuse me, but I’m on my way to lunch with my colleague Mr. Scrooge. :-)



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joanne

posted October 14, 2009 at 2:04 pm


I want what’s real too. I long for it. I don’t know if I can fall into generation M but what you are saying is what I want too.



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Brian

posted October 14, 2009 at 2:12 pm


dopderbeck,
I with you on this one, as I also struggle with the reality of a disabled child. I hope you like that Aeron chair. I helped engineer it.



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Ted M. Gossard

posted October 14, 2009 at 4:45 pm


dopderbeck (#33), In retrospect I think with my largely Anabaptist theological understanding I’m with your rugged realistic approach and outlook on things. Indeed a good dose of Ecclesiastes is sometimes needed, but also with the realization that in Jesus and by God’s work in the world through his kingdom in him, what we do can matter in the present.



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Mike M

posted October 14, 2009 at 10:26 pm


Personally, I enjoy being blamed for things I did or did not do and criticized for saying things I may or may not have said. Which is really why I like to post on the Jesus Creed blog.



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Barb

posted October 14, 2009 at 11:39 pm


I’m old–AND there are some old people that I’d like to break up with too. There are some middle-aged people that I’d like to break up with and there are some young people that I’d like to break up with.
I’m not ashamed of my generation (Boomer) how can a generation be blamed for anything? I love being the age I am, sharing the experiences with those my age that lived through the same things together. BUT, we in the Body of Christ are responsible for representing the Kingdom of Heaven to the world–no matter what age we are.



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