by Conor Friedersdorf
David Sessions makes the case:
Even as many “next Christians” remain rightfully critical of the ways they were raised to think and believe, there’s the indisputable fact that many of us have gone on to live happy lives with relative intellectual stability and modest to wild success in whatever endeavors we choose. We may have been inculcated with science denialism or bigotry or more difficult emotional things like self-hatred and repression.
But on the whole, the “next Christians” are not badly damaged, wounded souls whose parents and churches have left them for dead. In fact, quite the opposite: many are well-adjusted, upwardly mobile young professionals who owe what success and sanity they have to the values they were raised on. It’s important that every Christian who faces the inevitable bitterness that results from breaking out of a small-minded worldview remember that when they turn to critique the ones who came before. And though I clearly believe in opposing those who continue to articulate a reactionary political version of Christianity, I think a lot of the Next Christians can probably do more good persuading their parents than condescending to them.
For a lot of people, it is far easier to identify what their parents did wrong than to perceive, let alone appreciate or understand, what they did right. Doing both is the best way to make progress from one generation to the next.
What I like about the attitude that Sessions suggests persuading parents rather than condescending to them is that respectful efforts at persuasion leave the person engaged in them open to being transformed , whether by being shown that they are in error, or else that they are correct but needful of nuance. Its an insight that would seem to apply to people of all faiths, or none.