The Common Good

Socio-Religious Prognostication?

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Psalm 78:1-8

Hear my teaching, O my people;
 incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

I will open my mouth in a parable;
 I will declare the mysteries of ancient times.

That which we have heard and known,
   and what our forebears have told us,
 we will not hide from their children.

We will recount to generations to come
   the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the Lord,
 and the wonderful works he has done.

He gave his decrees to Jacob
   and established a law for Israel,
 which he commanded them to teach their children;

That the generations to come might know,
   and the children yet unborn;
 that they in their turn might tell it to their children;

So that they might put their trust in God,
 and not forget the deeds of God,
   but keep his commandments;

And not be like their forebears,
   a stubborn and rebellious generation,
 a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
   and whose spirit was not faithful to God.

I'm pondering the first few lines of this Psalm. They strike me as remarkably different from much of what we're saying these days about generations and faithfulness. It is, it seems, always the younger generations who fail us, who are stubborn and do not recognize the gifts of God. Every so often someone will throw the Baby Boomers (I mean, that's fun, right?) under the bus, but the majority of our attention has been on the future generations or those who are simply young now. We who analyze religious trends are practitioners of religious prognostication. 

I'm a fan of it, of course. I am curious about the future and what might be in store for us. I am also aware that though we may think that such prognostications help us understand the present, the truth is such attempts to read the religious tea leaves can serve as a distraction from our present fears. They provide a form of escapism.

What if we simply sat in our present moment and, instead of throwing the people of the past under the bus of False Christendom or poo-pooing the Spiritualist Trends of the imagined future, we simply sought God in the present moment? What if we looked for God in the here and now?

Psalm 78 is long-ish. It's a litany of all the things that previous generations abused or took for granted. But what it also does that's interesting is extol God's presence in the present moment. And though it will all go wrong, they are doing the right thing. They are finding God in the here and now and they are rejoicing together.

What might such a practice look like for us? Would we find ourselves celebrating hip-hop preachers or the 80-somethings who are faithfully serving in leadership in their congregations? 

What is God doing today?

Tripp Hudgins is a doctoral student in liturgical studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., and associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Palo Alto, Calif. You can read more of his writings on his longtime blog, "Conjectural Navel Gazing; Jesus in Lint Form" at AngloBaptist.orgFollow Tripp on Twitter @AngloBaptist.

Stopwatch, lucadp / Shutterstock.com

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