Tag Archives: Gen X

Jeremy Spoke

Do you remember Jeremy? Released in 1992, the music video for Pearl Jam’s first commercially successful single ended with a classroom of school children covered in blood.

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam

The song and video were purportedly based on the suicide of Jeremy Delle, a sophomore who killed himself in front of his classmates and teacher in 1991 at Richardson High School in Texas. I never got that, even 20 years ago when I was watching it as the new “it” video in heavy rotation on MTV.

The unedited video shows Jeremy putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger to suicide, but MTV restrictions didn’t allow that imagery to be aired because it was too violent. What they did allow was an ambiguous ending viewers like me misinterpreted as a mass shooting: a closeup of Jeremy juxtaposed with his blood-covered classmates frozen in horror.

This was before Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook. 

Jeremy came to mind as I researched statistics about American violence for my post this week for Finding (Un)Common Ground. Our nation is scrambling in the wake of Sandy Hook. One side wants armed guards in schools. The other side wants to restrict the Second Amendment. I argue neither strategy is satisfactory.

Gun violence in America is a symptom of a larger, more ominous problem. We’ve cultivated an environment laced with violence, one in which human life is cheap and expendable.

Winona Ryder, Christian Slater in Heathers

Winona Ryder and Christian Slater in Heathers

A friend recently remarked he doubted the student-murdering, suicide-laden, bomb-planting movie Heathers could even be made now. I wonder what kind of criticism a video like Jeremy would draw if it were made today. But Eddie Vedder and Winona Ryder aren’t solely to blame for our culture of violence. Their “art” would probably be considered tame these days. It merely foreshadowed the waves of death we’ve witnessed. What astounds me is our obstinate refusal to connect what we allow to entertain us with the horrific violence in our country. Garbage in, garbage out.

Of course it goes much deeper than that. Violence is the symptom; our disease is the other “s” word, the three-letter one. Sin left unchecked leads to violence. That’s its trajectory. And sin is our nature. The violent culture we live and breathe flows from our human condition. Censorship, armed guards, and national gun databases won’t curb that.

Nothing less than a change of our very hearts is required.

So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Romans 6:11 NLT

Jeremy spoke in class today. The unplugged version.

Read more in my Finding (Un)Common Ground post 
Armed Guards, Gun Control Fall Short in ‘Violence Culture.’

UPDATE 2.19.13: For more thinking and rethinking this topic, please see Necessary Violence?

photo credit: Pearl Jam Official via photopin cc
photo credit: Patrick McEvoy-Halston via photopin cc

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For the Love of a Scrunchie

Scrunchie. Fabric covered rubber band. Vintage hair accessory. Friend of the weary and downtrodden, color-treated and conditioned Gen X tresses.

scrunchie leopard print 100 percent silk

scrunchie fierce

“Do they still make those?” said my stylist when I mentioned tying my hair up in a scrunchie for yoga class.

“I don’t know if they still make them,” I said. “But they’re magical.”

My hair stylist is in her twenties. She doesn’t know the power of the scrunchie.

In my hair history, I’ve owned sponge rollers, velcro rollers, hot rollers, steam rollers, curling irons, crimping irons, banana clips, bobby pins, barrettes, crab claws, and an ocean of ponytail elastics. I have not owned a Flowbee, and I’m resisting the urge to buy a flat iron, though my BFF swears by hers. Her flat iron, that is. Not her Flowbee.

scrunchie close up

pair of scrunchies

The scrunchie has staying power.

I’ve saved two from the 90s. I keep them safely stashed behind my collection of plastic, hotel shower caps. Secret weapons of my hair care arsenal.

Scrunchie A is a cotton calico gem from 1992. It boasts a saturated red that glows like rubies. Bought it on clearance at the Gap for $3. (I remember all my significant fashion purchases the way I remember song lyrics.)

I wear it to the pool. The cotton dries fast, and the bright bathing suit colors of this past summer breathed new life into the 20-year-old accessory.

Scrunchie B, my favorite, is a silk-covered leopard print. It’s fierce.

My sister gave it to me in 1995. Little did we know animal prints would become the new neutrals. Thank you, Ballard Designs. Ordinary scrunchies may fall by the wayside along the runway of trends. The leopard scrunchie goes to yoga class.

Don’t get me wrong. I still care about my appearance. I want to be presentable, respectable, approachable. You and I, we have to wear clothes in public, so we might as well put some effort into it. And we need to do something with our crowning glory while it clings to our heads.

But I find, as the decades roll by, there are compromises to be made on the personal catwalk of life. 

good-bye glamour

good-bye glamour

Comfortable shoes instead of stilettos, so the plantar fasciitis doesn’t anger the wicked sciatica. Untucked shirts and higher rise jeans, so I can belly laugh with abandon rather than sucking in my tummy or perpetually donning Spanx to squash the muffin top. Sweat pants worn occasionally even though fashion experts rage against them and the flip-flops.

Best regards, Vogue, GlamourElle, Stacy and Clinton. I’ll keep my scrunchies and wear them when I must. Because to me, they’re the epitome of style: comfortable, confident, magical, fierce.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30 NIV

From 1990, Groove is in the Heart by Deee Lite. Unless you’re wearing a scrunchie. In that case, groove is in the hair.

Do you own a scrunchie or other outdated fashion item you just can’t let go of yet?

 

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Meet the Skeptic

Today is the National Day of Prayer. There’s a lot of hubbub surrounding the alternative National Day of Reason—as if faith and reason are mutually exclusive. Seems fitting to turn our attention to the skeptics, people who express disbelief of Biblical truth. For that, we call in an expert.

Meet the Skeptic by Bill Foster

Meet the Skepticby friend Bill Foster, reached number one in Amazon’s Science and Religion category earlier this week. Congratulations, Bill!

In Meet the Skeptic, Bill presents skepticism as an opportunity to see where the need for truth lies in each individual. Bill is Gen X, so expect references to pop culture alongside illustrations and Biblical support. All this is packed into a mere 144 pages. You can read that in one sitting, people.

I asked Bill a few questions about his book. He was gracious to share these answers with me.

What inspired you to write this book?

Bill: Two main things. First, my own frustrations in talking with skeptics and feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere even when I had answers. Second, realizing there are a lot of apologetics resources out there but people are intimidated by many of them.

What makes this different than other ways to share the Gospel?

Bill: Meet The Skeptic is more about asking the right questions to get underneath surface-level objections than it is about trying to answer every objection. It’s more about understanding worldviews and where a conversation will likely go than it is about regurgitating data. Facts and evidence are always valuable and the more knowledgeable we are about a subject the better. But I think the evidence is best used as supporting information after the skeptic’s worldview is uncovered rather than as lead-off material.

What one thing would you like people to know about sharing the Gospel with the skeptic?

Bill: We don’t need to “win” the discussion. Intellectual arguments alone will never convince anyone, only God can do that. When we engage skeptics and really try to find the deeper obstacles to their faith, we have a better chance at seeing whether or not God is working on them. If He is, great! They may be receptive to truth. But if He’s not, it doesn’t mean that He never will. It just might mean that on this occasion we’re only scratching the surface of hard ground rather than gleaning the harvest.

Find Meet the Skeptic books and study resources on the book’s website and on Amazon. God bless you, Bill, as you aid in the harvest.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” Luke 10:2-3 NIV

I’m For You by TobyMac.

Bill Foster and his wife Karla live in North Carolina. You may remember Karla from Don’t Save the Marshmallows.

In addition to writing and speaking about apologetics, Bill is an accomplished graphic designer, business owner, and publisher.

Follow Bill on his blog, Facebook page, and Twitter @meettheskeptic.

Are faith and reason compatible? Do you consider yourself a person of faith, reason, or both?

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Skater Boy

Skater boy learns by watching the big kids.

watching

Practicing on his scooter for now. Uphill.

scooter away

Sliding while the big kids speed around like heavy freight trains.

boy follows

Skater boy meanders close to their paths. “Stay back,” I say, “out of their way.”

stage mom

He zooms down lesser hills. Turns and jumps. “Mom, this is my best move!”

best move

Skater boy. You’ve stolen my heart.

zoom

“It’s really complicated,” he says. As complicated as 1986, I think.

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that. Ephesians 5:1-2 The Message

Walk of Life by Dire Straits seems oddly appropriate here.

When skater boy saw this YouTube video with Mark Knopfler’s picture at the end, skater boy said, “That’s what he looks like? He’s a karate guy?”

Must be the headband.

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Nevermind

what nevermind means to me

“Mom, I’m ready to checkout.”

“Huh?” I was engrossed in the August issue of Spin.

“Come on, Mom. Let’s go!”

We bypassed self-checkout and waited in line at the front desk. A strategic move on my part to garner a few more minutes.

“Do I have to give it back?”

The librarian shrugged. There’s always next week.

But the next week it was missing. The week after that too. Quite sure someone pilfered it. Slipped it into a briefcase or trench coat. Snuck it by the sensors.

I inquired at the front desk. They have no way of tracking periodicals. Oh, well. Nevermind.

Then this week, it miraculously reappeared in its rightful place between Southwest Art and The Sporting News. I snagged it and held it close. Snapped iPhone photos on silent mode so my clicking would go undetected.

August 2011. Spin. Special Issue. The 20th Anniversary of the Album That Changed Everything. What Nevermind Means Now.

august 2011 spin

There on the cover was poor Kurt Cobain in cutoff jeans and no shirt. Suspended underwater. Scruffy beard. Floating mane. Devoid of air.

“Most drummers write beats,” said Thursday’s vocalist Geoff Rickly in Spin. “Dave Grohl wrote riffs.”

Nevermind was the first entire album of my generation that didn’t feel like it was on loan from the generation just before us,” said Sloane Crosley, author of I Was Told There’d Be Cake.

“Even on the first listen, the song (Smells Like Teen Spirit) carried with it a strange nostalgia,” said Meghan O’Rourke, author of The Long Goodbye. “What made Nevermind iconic had a lot to do with Cobain’s own self-consciousness.”

Musician Jack Davey explained it logically as teenagers rebelling against his laundry list of oppressions from the 80s.

In an article by Ed Masley from The Arizona Republic online, managing editor of MTV Hive Jessica Robertson attributed it to obliteration of the nuclear family. Kids being isolated without ways to connect.

“Nirvana came on their TV and there was this anthem for them. This entire movement was spawned in that one moment, because suddenly people had a home and a community,” said Robertson.

So what does Nevermind mean to you, if anything?

I was 20 years old and in college when the album was released on September 24, 1991. Rumor was a boy named Knox (what a cool name) introduced Nevermind to the frat house where my sorority sisters and I congregated. I’d never heard anything like it.

One morning after class, I meandered through frat court on my way back to my sorority house. It was autumn in Chapel Hill—sunny, quiet, magical.

Then as if on cue, Smells Like Teen Spirit blasted out from said frat house, filling the space and time.

Nevermind is a contradiction. An angry, painful, determined, come-close-as-I-push-you-away, I-have-a-chip-on-my shoulder-yeah-you-put-it-there, let’s-celebrate-for-tomorrow-we-die rallying cry.

I was born in 1970. Smack dab in the epicenter of Gen X. The 13th generation as theorized by Neil Howe and Bill Strauss. The unlucky. The unwanted. The Johnny-come-lately middle child after the Baby Boomers but before the Millennials. For many of us, life is a contradiction.

“Fortunately, Gen Xers are not starry-eyed idealists, but rather steely-eyed realists,” writes Lisa Chamberlain in her book Slackonomics: Generation X in the Age of Creative Destruction.

Early April, 1994. The news came on my car radio. I pulled to a stop at the top of a highway off-ramp in the middle of the night. Cobain had suicided.

“So that’s it?” I thought. “That’s how this ends?”

“I think it (Nevermind) has a lasting impact still of excitement and mystery,” said Meat Puppet’s Curt Kirkwood in The Arizona Republic article. “For something so accessible, it’s almost impenetrable.”

And that’s how it remains.

come as you are

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:19-23 NIV

Come As You Are unplugged.

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Indian Summer

last of the zinnias

Today is Friday in September. Football season. My maroon and gold pom poms are calling.

They beckon me from the trunk of a 1980 maroon Camaro with gold pinstriping. When my dad selected the car, I believe he thought it needed to match my uniform.

The days are warm and sunny. Might think it’s still summer.

Then you catch a chill, the crisp crackle of fall on its way. The changing of the guard approaches. My body remembers it’s time to report to the field.

Hear the drumbeat of the marching band. Spirited cadence, rebel yells. Evening now. Almost time for the game to begin.

The home team bursts out of the locker room and breaks through the paper banner stretched across the end zone. Wild bucks, padded up and set loose. Stampeding leather cleats on sparkling green grass.

The horn section screams and flashes silver. The bleachers applaud. The pom poms dazzle and shake.

At some point in the pre game festivities, we cheerleaders gathered on the field. Maybe the football team too. It’s been years, I’ve been a long time gone, and I can’t remember exactly who joined the circle. But I do remember what we did.

Together we said The Lord’s Prayer before kickoff. A tradition and a covering over our game. Over our youth.

still fits!

So very politically incorrect. Only we didn’t know that then.

Those were the days we could still call our team the Indians. Now it’s called the Storm.

How long, I wonder, until the National Weather Service complains? Good thing the replacement mascot wasn’t an animal or we’d have PETA picketing the commons.

I wonder, as did Bob Fliss in the Carolina Journal Online, if Wake Forest University has been contacted about discarding the demon Deacon? Couldn’t help but notice a neighboring school in Guilford County has yet to give up their Vikings.

And that’s just a wee little pocket in North Carolina.

Dare I question the state university due east of my current home in St. Louis? When will the Fighting Illini become the Fearsome Gully Washers or the Frightening Thunder-Boomers?

We weren’t perfect, but we were good kids. We proudly called ourselves the Indians, believing it meant brave, strong, fierce warriors. We wouldn’t have taken the name if we’d believed it to be oppressive or offensive.

Looking back, I hope no one felt oppressed or was offended. It pains me to think folks would actually take it that way.

cheer detail

In 2004, the Guilford County Board of Education prompted by the North Carolina State Board of Education and the North Carolina Mascot Education & Action Group (yes, there is such a thing) voted to “retire” the mascot that had represented my school since 1926.

The vote came without consulting the citizenry prior to proceeding. The board reasoned the community could comment in the 30 days before the policy would be finalized, as if community input mattered. (Guilford Schools Board Forbids Indian Mascots, Jennifer Fernandez, News & Record, 1.14.04)

So it changed. A lot has changed since I left my pom poms behind.

A couple years ago, the homegirls threw an awesome 20th reunion party for our class. In between all the hugging and laughing and reuniting, we gathered.

Before the dancing and the open bar, we prayed. A tradition. A covering.

maroon & gold

When I think of those friends, those times, my high school—to me, we’ll always be the Indians, brave and strong, on a crisp, early autumn Friday night.

How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. James 4:14 NLT

This version of Boys of Summer by The Ataris rocks. Sorry, Don Henley. As noted above, things change.

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Filed under America, family & friends, life