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You know the guy. He somehow managed to graduate college, but he still lives with his parents. And he doesn't plan to move out anytime soon. Or maybe he has a decent job. He lives with some buddies in the city. But he blows most of his money on video games and his latest efforts to bring a girl back to his place.

That guy was the subject of an article in the winter volume of City Journal, published by the Manhattan Institute. Kay S. Hymowitz writes about this developing phenomenon in her article, "Child-Man in the Promised Land." Hymowitz is not the first writer to observe this new developmental stage for young men between adolescence and adulthood. David Brooks termed this period the "Odyssey Years" in a New York Times column. The evidence of this trend affects our culture in significant ways—delayed marriage, delayed childbirth, career instability.

"Dating gives way to Facebook and hooking up," Brooks writes. "Marriage gives way to cohabitation. Church attendance gives way to spiritual longing. Newspaper reading gives way to blogging." It's not that young people today just want to slack off and don't care about each other, Brooks cautions. "It's a phase in which some social institutions flourish—knitting circles, Teach for America—while others—churches, political parties—have trouble establishing ties."

Indeed, this new phase of social development portends major shifts in church life. Spoken or not, many churches have practiced an evangelistic strategy that doesn't expect to reach young men until they return with wife and kid in tow. If this was ever a wise strategy, surely now it is bound to fail. Hymowitz points out that in 1970, 69 percent of 25-year-old and 85 percent of 30-year-old white men ...

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March 2008

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