What's Tony Thinking

A Capacity for Joy


This past week the folks at the Crackers and Grape Juice podcast taped another session with me and Will Willimon, a.k.a. “Grumpy Old Men.”

This time the format was us responding to questions that had been submitted by members of their audience. By the way, several of you — readers of this blog — submitted great questions, some of which got chosen for the episode. Thanks for that.

One of the questions resulted in an uncharacteristic, for our duo, gap. Neither of us had a ready answer. In our defense, it was a two-part question, with the two-parts only remotely related. As I recall it was, “What do you see as the special gifts of the current younger generation, and how do you see churches coming out of the pandemic.” Like I said, really two different questions.

Still, I felt badly that we were a little stumped when it came to saying something nice about “the younger generation.” I did, referencing the podcast itself, manage to say that I thought the younger generation, partly pushed by the pandemic, had helped the mainline church — heretofore dragging its feet — get on board with new technology. I may have mentioned, as well, a passion for justice. I thought my answers were pretty lame.

Here’s what I wish I had said. While acknowledging that all generalizations about different generations are just that — generalizations — one of the gifts I see in folks currently in their 20’s and 30’s — is a capacity for joy. There is a lightness, fun and humor, that is a change from the generation represented by Will and myself. This was in evidence, for example, in the graphic (see right) which Teer Hardy of CGJ team chose for promoting the episode.

Of course, Will is famous for his humorous and entertaining stories. But often his humor, and mine, can be a bit sarcastic or snarky. Besides that, I would say at least of myself that I suffer from an excess of “seriousness.”

The younger generation folks that I know seem less liable to that failing. There is a joy, sometimes a silliness, that I see among them that is a blessing. I think of it as “Hallelujah Anyway!” Yeah, there’s plenty of bad stuff happening, but despite it all, there’s a joy in life, so “hallelujah anyway.”

This is coupled with a priority on friends and friendship. (This is, after all, the generation that grew up on the “Friends” show.) There’s a prioritization of friends that, again, I lacked, or maybe my generation lacked. I’d say the priority was more on work and career. The emphasis on friends and fun of a younger generation may be a reaction to their boomer parents.

As is often the case with something like a podcast interview, I think of things I wished I’d said (and not said) after the taping is over.

I wished I had, in response to that question, thanked the younger generation for so often choosing joy and friendship, or “Hallelujah Anyway.”


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