They are known by many names: Generation X, postboomers, baby busters, twentysomethings, slackers, whiners. Perhaps "Generation X"—taken from the title of Douglas Coupland's hip 1991 novel—is the moniker of choice since it signifies an unknown variable, a generation that is still in search of its identity. But whatever one calls these 38 million young men and women born between 1963 and 1977, we cannot assume they are simply the next round of alienated youth. What makes them unique is that they are the first generation to grow up in a post-Christian America. In this special report, we explore what effect they may have on society and how the church can reach out to them.
Androgynous, somber, and bored-looking, outfitted in Doc Marten boots, all-black, ripped T-shirts, baggy pants, and leather jackets, a twentysomething crowd streams late one night into Cabaret Metro, an alternative dance club in Chicago. Disheveled hair hides the women's faces, while the men sport crisply cut hair or shaved heads. They have come to hear Liz Phair, an up-and-coming grunge punk rocker.
Phair's sixties-style electric guitar squeals out dissonant notes to accompany her vulgar, honest, and cynical lyrics about gender wars and institutional hypocrisy. The band's beat moves the smileless ticket holders to gyrate and bop, eyes closed, tuning out the world as they surrender to Phair's rock-driven poetry.
Cabaret Metro's scene represents only one subculture of twentysomethings. The young men and women who make up Generation X are as diverse in outlook and style as the baby boomers before them. But what makes Generation X unique is the spirit of their age -an age widely regarded as postmodern and often as post-Christian. Social phenomena like ...1