Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Age Cage

Zondervan Publishing House describes its Teen Study Bible as "a Bible that speaks to their [teenagers'] world." Huh? And, the normal Bible doesn't? Do teenagers need "Jericho Joe" to add a "lighthearted, cartoon touch to the text"? Personally, I don't think of a Bible that supposedly speaks to me in language I can understand. And, this is relatively good for a spiritual book aimed at teenagers. I linked from the Teen Study Bible to One-Minute [(!)] Bible 4 Students. It seems that Doug Fields, the book's author, honestly believes that teenagers can only hold their attention on the Word of God for one minute at a time (and they need to be spoon-fed the truth in these texts). But these books are only manifestations of a bigger problem: the Age Cage.

What is the Age Cage? It's my name for the set of low expectations our culture holds for teenagers. These low expectations hinder young adults both by preventing them from taking on responsibility and by encouraging them to waste their time, money, and brainpower "having fun". Alex and Brett Harris have written a great book called Do Hard Things (as well as a fantastic blog) on this subject. I started rereading Do Hard Things today for youth group. I have recently been thinking of applying for an internship with a popular talk radio host. However, I have a recurring suspicion that my age would prevent me from getting the position. Bam! The Age Cage strikes again! Am I less qualified than the interns holding these positions now? Perhaps I have less experience, but I have the capacity to obtain their experience--but I never will unless I am given the opportunity.

What do you think? Am I being irrational? Is there an "Age Cage" in America? Should there be? How have culture's expectations affected you?


invisible_gurl said...

I think you're right, and there is. There shouldn't be, but because of the low expectations we are limited by, in some cases we can't reach our full potential because we aren't allowed to. Instead of being a relief, the low expectations people have of teenagers can be a hindrance to those who want to be better. It can become a mindset, that teens are completely untrustworthy, irresponsible, and flat-out unable (or, a little better, unwilling) to learn.
It's totally off-topic, but I'd like to add that maybe the low performances that people consider typical of teens has to do with what teenagers are being taught in schools. Evolution, the accepted and politically correct explanation for the beginning of the world, teaches that we are animals, just more evolved than the rest. If I believed that, I would probably also believe there is no point in excelling. "I'm just a stupid animal. What do I matter? Why even try?"
I'm blogging on your blog. Haha. I'm done now.
Great post. I totally agree with you.

Colin said...

That's a great idea and something that deserves some thought. Does evolution influence our self-perception that much? I agree with one author who wrote something along the lines of "you can't teach students that they're animals and their classmates are animals, and then be shocked when they shoot each other."

Ben said...

Oh my gosh man, I know exactly what you mean. I have been caught in this mindset myself! Even when the church was first getting started I was like, "Mehh, it is the adults thing to set up and so sound," Oh, man...young Ben, so many things you should have known...
Joel Marshall has way understood this concept, no way would I have been on a worship team on an instrument with that little practice. And he did and awesome job to. My hat is off to you Joel and you, Colin, for taking the stand that one time and leading worship. Though I guess you have kind of done more than once now, but you get the idea.
Now, I'm not so caught in this mode. But I can see the Age Cage happening all the time! Especially with me at collage now, being the youngest on campus. But its not letting me down.
Thanks man, this is an amazing post! Can't wait to get more in depth with you all in "Do Hard Things"

NewJerseyJesus said...

I personally don't trust anyone over age 20 to lead worship music :)

Colin said...

newjerseyjesus: I'd be interested to hear your reasoning behind that...especially seeing as I've filled in for my church's worship leader and I'm 16. ;)