SPECIAL SERIES: Perspectives on spirituality by young people...
What this series is about...
Our hope over this last week of 2006 is to bring you a series of reflections written by young people in their mid-20s to mid-30s on their spiritual and religious outlook today. I say "hope" as I am not yet definitely certain that all the young people I have been able to make contact with will in fact be able to submit their reflections on time. I am confident though we have an excellent start to the series with a contribution I've been endeavouring to get my own son, Ben, to write for about the last three years — LOL. I am hopeful that it might inspire other young people to put pen to paper and share with us their outlook in as honest a way as they are able to.
My hope is that this series might also provide our spiritual leaders in the institutional Church with some insight into the thinking of educated young people today — particularly those who have become disillusioned with institutionalised religion.
To set the context for the readers of this series, following is the briefing note that was sent to each of the young people...
If, for the reasons hinted at earlier, our series is incomplete this week, we will use the reflections we are able to publish as a catalyst for a more intensive series early next year. I know the value I have derived, despite many conversations with my own children over the years on these subjects, of actually reading their perspectives when they've put considerable time and energy into writing out their thoughts in a coherent and self-reflective way. I am sure other parents will appreciate reading their perspectives and those of other young people who might be inspired to write at length and in detail about what they believe today, and why.
My own children were brought up in what was then a quite conservative household both theologically and politically. While Ben and Phoebe (my eldest daughter whose contribution will be published later in the week) both have heightened spiritual sensibilities and continue to read very widely on spirituality, my experience is that their outlook is not unlike that of many educated young people whom I have met through the social circles my own children move in. Granted that neither of them are "petrol heads", or obsessively focused about careers, materialism, technology and economic security, their perspectives probably do reflect those of the educated elite who do tend to "set the agenda" in society through the arts, political activism and music. At some stage I would also like to obtain a perspective from my youngest son, Julian, who has a far more conservative and main-stream outlook. Unfortunately (at least in the context of this series) he is now running a very successful business in computer software development and distracting him away from that is not an easy task. As I wrote earlier, and it wasn't in jest, I have been seriously endeavouring to get my own children to write something like this for a number of years. I do think part of the reason why they have found it more comfortable to do it at this stage is partly reflective of a further stage of maturity, and the ability for self-reflection at this slightly later age than when I first asked them. From my conversations with him over the years though I know Julian has alternative perspectives that would also be valuable for this series and, more than probably, of value to the spiritual leadership of our Church if they could give a bugger about anyone attempting to publish anything like this.
If any of our readers know of young people who might be inspired to share their perspectives with us — unfortunately we cannot offer remuneration at this stage for their submissions but my own children indicate to me they have found the exercise of value to themselves in bringing to a focus much of the thinking they have done on these matters over the years — please do not hestitate to contact me, or get the young people concerned to contact me.