Generational Archetypes: the Artist/Custodian

Again, generational theory is new to me. I’m learning about it as I write these posts, so it’s likely I’ll revise some of my ideas in the future.

Last time I posted about the Hero/Barn-Raiser archetype (“hero” being Strauss/Howe’s label and “barn-raiser” being mine). I considered calling them the “Babel” archetype because of their penchant for centralized power, their abandonment of individual rights for the sake of “the greater good,” and the conformity they instigate in the culture–that’s how I imagine the generation building the Tower probably was. But such a label is one-sided in its negative connotations, just as “hero” is one-sided in it’s positive connotations. Certainly this archetype, historically, has changed the existing order for the worse several times–such as the tower builders of Babel; the Gilded Generation wrecked state’s rights and shifted power to the federal government (the sacrifice made to end slavery); and the GI Generation flung us down the slippery slope of socialism, but with such gradualism that the straw-that-breaks-the-camel’s-back will come after they’re gone (a sacrifice to supposedly fight the Depression and set the world free). But there are also examples of this archetype changing the existing order for the better–I consider the Republican Generation who won independence from the British to be one of these, as well as the soldiers who followed Joshua in the Holy Land campaign. There’s so much more I want to say about the Barn-Raisers (and the GIs in particular), but I’ve probably already taxed the modern attention span past the breaking point.

The “artist” monniker, for the next archetype in the sequence, doesn’t seem like the best label. There are artists in every generation. And not every member of an “artist” generation is artistic (just as there are few actual heroes in a “hero” generation). I considered calling them “coat-tail riders,” “chameleons,” “guardians,” and less flattering names; but settled on “custodians” because their primary responsibility, as both they and the Barn-Raisers see it, is to maintain the culture, society and institutions that the Barn-Raisers built. The Israelites who settled in the Promised Land but had been too young to fight in the conquest; Solomon and his age cohorts who inherited David’s kingdom; and the children and younger siblings of Jesus’ disciples might all be categorized under this archetype.

If the cycle continues in the pattern already established, the “Homelanders” (born 2005 +) will be the next incarnation of this archetype. The previous Custodians were the Silent Generation (born 1925-42).

 The Silent Generation (Artist, born 1925–1942) grew up as the suffocated children of war and depression. They came of age just too late to be war heroes and just too early to be youthful free spirits. Instead, this early-marrying Lonely Crowd became the risk-averse technicians and professionals of a post-crisis era in which conformity seemed to be a sure ticket to success. Many found a voice as sensitive rock ‘n rollers and civil-rights advocates. Midlife was an anxious “passage” for a generation torn between stolid elders and passionate juniors. Their surge to power coincided with fragmenting families, cultural diversity, institutional indecision, and prolific litigation. As America’s newest and most affluent-ever seniors (no longer “senior citizens”), they wonder why just “following the rules” no longer works for their children and grandchildren. (AMERICAN: Colin Powell, Walter Mondale, Woody Allen, Martin Luther King, Jr., Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley; FOREIGN: Anne Frank, Mikhail Gorbachev)

Lifecourse

Like anybody whose life doesn’t end prematurely, I am acquainted with members of age cohorts who belong to all four generational archetypes. I plan to share some of my personal observations about all of them in at least one post as part of this series. I’ve spent a lot of time in the company of a few Silents. I know I must avoid the fallacy of assuming that one individual of a generation is exactly like everyone in their age cohort, and visa-versa. However, my observations confirm most, if not all, of the characteristics attributed by Strauss and Howe to the peer personality of the Silents.

The GIs were a cocky bunch. After all, “they saved the world from Hitler”–no wonder they were brimming over with confidence. Although the Silents were kids during the Depression (like Our Gang/The Little Rascals), they came of age shortly after the resolution of an existential crisis, and inherited the most prosperous, idyllic society in recorded history (with the exception of Israel under Solomon). They believed the tremendous victory and emergence as a world superpower had come at great cost, and they didn’t want to blow it. Compared to the GIs, they were risk-averse (afraid of taking any unnecessary chances). This resulted in a complacent, passive, and indecisive disposition. They did their best to maintain the status quo, since making any unnecessary changes might ruin the Golden Age they lived in. America never had a President from the Silent Generation, though a whole lot of them were in Congress before and during our historically indecisive “police action” in Vietnam.

The Silents were even more conformist than the GIs. At first (in what probably seemed like the safest course of action) they emulated the GIs as best they could. They adopted the values of the GIs as their own. They got married as early as possible and had children–probably believing their “until death do us part” wedding vows when they spoke them. They put complete faith in the institutions established during the Depression-WWII era. When they were approaching midlife, a radical, rowdy, firebrand generation came of age and began transforming the culture. The Silents then adjusted their behavior to follow the lead of the Baby Boomers: they embarked on “journeys of self-discovery.” Mothers left the home and began pursuing their own careers. They began neglecting or abandoning their “latchkey kids.” They got divorced. Divorce was a rarity outside of Hollywood before the Silents came along. It skyrocketed during their time in the sun, and became commonplace. (Divorce, remarriage, and “blended families” was the inspiration for The Brady Bunch, which their kids grew up watching, all alone in the house.) Now with birth control and the removal of social stigma, they became sexually adventurous and experimental, just like the young “cool” kids who were proudly making lifestyles of sin.

But, but, but…rock & roll, biker gangs, beatniks and early civil rights activists! They were rebels, you say. Well, some of them were. But listening to rock & roll, dancing to it…that wasn’t rebellion for the average teenager; it was just another flavor of conformity at the time. All their peers were doing it.

In this classic line from The Wild One, and the title of another movie: Rebel Without a Cause, you might get the idea that the counterculture explosion of the ’60s-’70s had actually begun during the Silent Generation’s young adulthood, and not the Boomers’.

“The nation is on the brink of anarchy! Young leather-clad hoodlums are running amuck, threatening our institutions and civil order–just because they’re bored!” That was the narrative. But it wasn’t a popular narrative because that’s what the average young adult was actually doing in the ’50s. It was a cautionary narrative. Midlife GIs and the Lost Generation were tired of those spoiled whippersnappers talking in class, running in the halls, chewing gum, building hot rods, and dancing to that wild music. “Dagnabit! We didn’t go fight the Germans just so these reckless rapscallions could disturb the peace and disrespect us! We need to put a stop to this! Idle hands are the devil’s workshop! Put those boys in the Armed Forces–boot camp will teach them some discipline! We need parents to wake up and get their ne’er-do-well brats under control!” Hollywood, dominated by the GI Generation then, did their part to make that cautionary narrative popular.

The very term “teenager” was coined during the Silent’s youth–it hadn’t been in the American vocabulary before that. Teenagers hadn’t been as prized a demographic in previous generations–they hadn’t had “a voice.” People between 13 and 19 were expected to help Dad with running the farm, or to work in the factory to help support the family, before the Silents came along. But the GIs, and the youngest of the Lost Generation, doted on their children. They had clawed and scraped to survive the economic hardship of the New Deal, and the wartime shortages and rationing that followed. They wanted their own children to have something better–and probably went overboard. Whether older people were catering to young Silents, or warning about them, America had a very youth-focused culture. I’ve mentioned The Little Rascals a couple times. That was just one popular franchise in entertainment that put these youngsters in the spotlight. There were the Andy Hardy movies of the ’40s; most of the Disney live-action movies of the ’50s; and as the Silents grew older and went crazy over rock & roll, a cottage industry of vapid youth party B-flicks rose up, celebrating teen culture. Scores of series on the new medium of television either featured young protagonists or had prominent young co-stars. Cartoons were all for kids. It’s hard to imagine this now, but in those days the entire comic book industry catered exclusively to kids. The toy industry boomed like never before. Then the record industry followed suit–fueled by children’s demand.

The Silents were the most valued youngsters anybody could remember up to that point. They lived “the life of Riley” in America. They apparently didn’t appreciate their good fortune, because when their youngest children came along, they didn’t pay it forward. History makes generations; and generations make history.

They got married at younger ages than any other living generation, and at first spoiled and indulged their own children in a superficial imitation of how the older GIs  and younger Lost had loved and valued them. But when the Silents re-routed their conformity to the behavior of their Boomer successors, they also adopted their selfishness and egocentrism. “It was all about me then, and it’s all about me now. Hey, kids had their day in the sun, but it’s the adults’ turn, now.” Perhaps it never crossed their mind that it had always been “their turn,” no matter their age. This was just a hint of the narcissism on its way with the Boomers.

There was one point in the Silents’ life cycle when they got the short end of the stick: the first “police action” in Korea. A little country most of them had never heard of was getting pushed around by some bullies with more troops, better weapons, and the backing of the world’s largest dictatorship. Maybe they thought this was their chance to save the world and become heroes themselves. But they wouldn’t be pushing for unconditional surrender as against the Axis. Victory was never the goal in Korea, and in the end, forbidden. They didn’t come home to massive tickertape parades and a euphoric zeitgeist of celebratory solidarity wherein a perfect stranger could grab a random woman in Times Square, jam his tongue down her throat, and earn the approval of all his peers (and, in fact, be immortalized for the act). Korea is called “the Forgotten War.” Silents suffered tremendously, died, were maimed for life, and fought with every bit as much valor as the “hero” generation before them; but America has, for the most part, forgotten it.

I’ve noticed a consistent attitude from Silents who actually kept their “in sickness and in health” vows and did NOT contribute to the historic divorce epidemic of the ’60s and ’70s. These men were elderly when I met them. Their sincere belief was that marriage solves all issues and sanctifies a young man. Lonely? “Get married.” Horny? “Get married.” Suffering unforgiveness? Arrested development? “Get married.” Lost your job? “Get married.” Working four jobs and still can’t afford to buy your own home or keep your car running? “Get married.” Disgusted and horrified at what’s happening to your country? “Get married–it’s the solution to every problem, young fellah!”

“Just follow the rules and everything will work out,” is the textbook philosophy for the still-married Silents. They assume that the women of younger generations must be exactly like their GI Generation older sisters, or young mothers.

I checked out at a Walgreens once, years ago, and the cashier was a Silent–he must have got bored being retired, living off his pension and the Social Security I’ve been paying into all my adult life but will never get to collect. In front of me in line were a couple of butch bulldykes. He interacted with them as if they were a young Natalie Wood and Annette Funiccello. They cracked some nasty remarks at him, but they were subtle enough (and in a newfangled dialect he probably didn’t savvy) that I guess he never caught on. I didn’t realize it had all gone over his head. I just thought he had modeled sterling customer service by maintaining a polite front and the stolid professionalism of a Korean War veteran (I have no idea whether he was or not–I’m stereotyping). When they left and it was my turn, I set my items on the counter and did something I don’t normally do–make polite small talk with a stranger. I figured his self-discipline deserved a nicety I rarely think of giving people. So anyway, I said, “I wonder which one is ‘the female’.” He gave me a wise, sage-like grin, and said, “They both are.”

Two facts occurred to me in that moment: One, of course, was that he was oblivious to what he had just witnessed. Two was that he assumed I didn’t know they were both biologically female. That episode of Dunning-Kruger only really made sense to me after I encountered generational theory.

The Silent men’s white-knighting pedestalization of all women (which is universal, so far as I can tell) is part of the peer personality Strauss and Howe will probably never notice or mention, but I think it fits the profile neatly. Again, it was probably inspired by GI Generation women they knew in their formative years and (if they never divorced the girl they married right out of high school) their wives. But not only were those women from a radically different generation, they had no access to birth control or abortion-on-demand, and there was a serious social stigma attached to both adultery and divorce. They also likely went through the existential crisis as a help-meet to their husband, too occupied avoiding starvation to ever get bored or unhaaaaa-aaaaapy with their marriages.

Well, I went long again. I guess I can’t help it.

I would like to get some feedback, if you’ve got a moment. I’m using a free version of WordPress, and I honestly can’t remember exactly what my reason was for doing that. I have some issues with it–one of them being  the way it looks on the screen to browsers and my inability to adjust that look to my liking. I have decided to transfer Seven Thunders to Blogger. I’m tempted to do it right away, but I’ve just started this new series and want to preserve some kind of continuity from post to post in this series on generational theory and the Bible. (I think, once I finish with the archetypes and move on to the seasons, there will be a lot more Bible than there is so far). So drop me a line in the comments or answer this survey, please. If nobody does either one, that tells me I have no readers (I took a hiatus of about five years, so that won’t surprise me) and it doesn’t matter what I do, so I’ll probably make the transfer before my next post.

I mentioned Joshua and the conquest of the Holy Land above. I should have thought of a clever segue to this…but anyway, did you know a novel has been written based on that very generation and season of history? Gods & Proxies is fictionalized Biblical history, but written similar to traditional epic fantasy. I’m aware that Brian Goddawa published a novel with the same setting as an installment in his series on the Nephilim, but I’m still pretty sure you’ve never read a book like this. It’s available in paperback at any online store, but the e-book version is currently on sale for 99 cents. The sale ends on April 13. Below I’ll paste the afterword from the book.

There are no elves, unicorns, or pixie ninjas in Gods & Proxies, but it’s about as epic a fantasy as you could possibly get in 316 pages. Or is it a fantasy at all?

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Afterword/Acknowledgments

I saw The Ten Commandments (the 1956 movie with Charlton Heston) on TV several times as a child. As I got older, I watched other biblical epics about Samson, David, Solomon, and Ruth. But I never found a full-length feature based on the book of Joshua, which, for many years, was my favorite book in the Bible.

Sure, Joshua was portrayed as a supporting character in films about Moses, but it flabbergasted me that the conquest of the Holy Land was never depicted in a Hollywood movie. Or if it was, I never found so much as a clue that one existed, except for a snippet here and there in dramatizations based on the Bible as a whole.

In 2014, I decided it was time to write a screenplay for just such a movie. While undertaking that project, one reason became clear why nobody had done it before: though there is no lack of action in Joshua to use in what could essentially be a Bronze Age war film, it is a daunting task to arrange the biblical account into a three-act-structure that would satisfy the expectations of average moviegoers. Not that any film maker in Hollywood seems even remotely interested in historical accuracy in general, or biblical accuracy in particular, but a faithful adaptation of Joshua would probably be dismissed from consideration for any number of reasons. After Jericho (the very first battle of the campaign under Joshua’s tenure) what follows might seem anticlimactic, by conventional narrative standards. Moreover, the casual reader of English translations misses the underlying supernatural war against the Nephilim[1] in the Bible, so the entire Holy Land campaign seems a ruthless bloodbath, and the God of Israel comes off (as a famous atheist once accused) like a “genocidal maniac.” Even the capital punishment of Israel’s own criminals strikes the modern reader as heartless tyranny. It’s not just unbelievers who are horrified, but also those taught a watered-down Gospel on Sundays.

The easy route would have been to simply abuse “creative license” and rearrange the Joshua narrative to conform to modern storytelling conventions, changing details as I saw fit to make it more politically correct as well. In recent memory, a Hollywood feature film was produced based on pagan perversions of the Flood account in Genesis; and simply by giving it the title “Noah,” the film makers lured prominent apologists from inside organized religion to vouch for its merit. Who knows–by inserting the obligatory Womyn Warrior Tropes, a sympathetic homosexual character, and/or some not-so-subtle neo-Marxist message, my Joshua movie might have even won mainstream Hollywood backing, a multimillion dollar budget, and critical acclaim.

But to paraphrase a pretty wise, important thinker: what profits would be worth me selling my soul to win the adulation of this world?

So I wrote the screenplay with a revolutionary concept in mind: stay true to the source material (which is not to say, true to the typical Sunday School version of the source material). I finished a draft which did not contradict the biblical account, yet was structured and styled such that I believed it could satisfy a modern audience.

Lo and behold, I couldn’t get any potential producers to look at it. (Partly because I don’t know any potential producers.) Couldn’t get any Christians connected with the entertainment industry to look at it. Couldn’t even get one of the people who helped motivate this project to look at it.

Was the screenplay any good? Can’t say, objectively, because I’m the only one who ever read it.

It had been many years since film school and I had lost touch with the old network. (Short of miraculous intervention, it’s impossible to make a movie without a network…even when the movie is animated, which is how I envisioned this one). But, alas, I did have access to the resources to novelize the book of Joshua; so in 2016, that’s what I began doing.

The bulk of my gratitude is reserved for the Author of the 66 books that comprise the Holy Bible, and the 40-some-odd human stenographers He used to put it in written form. The thousands of tireless scholars who have toiled over translating the original text for centuries are not to be overlooked, either.

Next on my list is Dr. Chuck Missler. By compiling his own insights with the work of many others and presenting it in a cohesive form, he made a huge impact on my life–and this book. Just to name a few, I’ve drawn on his “briefing packages” concerning how the Planet Mars played a major part in the long day of Joshua; how the layout of the Israelite camp was one of the “called shots” that pointed to the Ultimate Sacrifice; how the Israelite tribal ensigns correlate to the four aspects of the Cherubim/Seraphim –just to name a few. (That last one was just part of Missler’s revelation. What I couldn’t include in this Old Testament story was how those four aspects correlate to the four Gospels.)

Though I only discovered his work much later, I also owe heap big thanks to Dr. Michael S. Heiser, who has delved into the original Hebrew of the Old Testament to shed light on “the Divine Council,” among other fascinating allusions in the Bible, which are ignored or denied by most preachers and teachers in mainstream Churchianity[2].

I’ve drawn on the research and work of so many different students of the Bible, I doubt I can remember them all. But I discovered some of them by listening to the podcasts of Derek and Sharon Gilbert. Their “A View From The Bunker;” “Gilbert House Fellowship;”and (now discontinued, I think) “P.I.D. Radio” are podcasts I highly recommend for anyone interested in learning about biblical topics never explored in the average modern church. Gilbert House Fellowship, especially, is well worth the time spent listening to it. As the Gilberts go through the Bible verse-by-verse (in revised chronological order), they synthesize the research of a plethora of other Bible students, illuminating a depth to the content of Scripture you probably haven’t found anywhere else. This is not to say I agree with all the opinions expressed or conclusions reached on their programs. But as Derek says at the beginning of each GHF episode, the purpose of the program is to assist “…believers seeking to better understand the Word of God,” and that is absolutely what it does.

The majority of the Apocrypha strikes me as uninspired drivel at best, yet there are certain apocryphal texts I have found helpful achieving a deeper understanding of the Bible. In particular: the books of Jasher, Jubilees, and a small excerpt from the Book of Enoch. On the one hand, I understand why these books weren’t included in the Canon. Yet the three sources I mentioned corroborate, provide context, and “fill in the blanks” in some of the historical books of the Old Testament (just as Josephus does for the New Testament) without contradicting the inspired message.

Too much of what is taught from behind the pulpit today is based on tradition, and not the Bible. A sense of propriety prevents certain biblical text from being taught, while emotional reasoning censors other Scripture. As if we human beings, with our lofty morals and wisdom, are correcting the Creator’s mistake of including information He shouldn’t have. With the same arrogance, we add our own theology to the Word, assuming the Holy Spirit must have forgotten to include something important. This is why, for the modern churchgoer, a story like the one told in this book might seem heretical or even occultic. To the non-believer it likely seems no more Judeo-Christian than the Arthurian legends. (By-the-way, the whole sword-in-the-stone subplot from those tales was most likely “borrowed” from the account of Moses’ sapphire staff in the book of Jasher.) So I fully expect a story told this way will not win many fans behind the pulpit. In fact, if it does, that probably signifies a failure on my part.

And speaking of failure: any mistakes, oversights. or inaccuracies are not the fault of anyone I’ve acknowledged, but mine alone (despite an honest effort). If I become aware of such, they will be corrected in subsequent editions.

There’s a famous road paved with good intentions. One good intention of theologians in centuries past was to eliminate or explain away any passage in the Bible which could be construed as supporting polytheism. The Bible clearly portrays Yahweh (El Elyon/El Shaddai/”The God of Many Names”/etc.) as the One True God; but it also documents that He judged the gods of Egypt (Exodus 12:12). In the Commandments we are warned not to put other gods before Him (Deuteronomy 5:7). The Adversary, called “the devil” and “Satan” in English, is referred to as “the god of this world” or “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4) depending on translation (or “prince,” which is also how the messenger[3] in Daniel 12:1 referred to the Archangel Michael). Acknowledging that the ancient pagans were worshiping living entities, and not just the idols formed to represent them, is not polytheistic. It is simply biblical.

Those of us who learned the Bible from an English translation (or worse yet, from “preacher talk”) have inherited many assumptions about our Creator. For instance, we assume that “God” is His name. One of the Commandments forbids us to misuse His name (Deuteronomy 5:11). Well, what exactly is His name? Most Gentiles have no idea, except for the cryptic statement given to Moses via the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). But where our English translations call him simply “THE LORD,” the original text used one of His names[4]. How many times have we seen references to His name in our English translations, without actually seeing His name in the text? Those translations also use the word “God” as if it is a name (hence we assume “God” is his name), but the word “el” that is translated “god” was a more generic term in Hebrew for a supernatural being that is not necessarily the Creator God. Many of us were taught that the word Elohim, which includes the word for “god” with a Hebrew plural suffix, is a reference to the Trinity–one God in three persons. But some Hebrew scholars insist it refers to a pantheon, the Divine Council, or Heavenly Assembly[5]. (Not that they deny the Trinity, as there is textual evidence of that concept elsewhere in Scripture.)

Another assumption we make is that the four dimensions (height, width, depth, and time) we perceive, and are limited to, are the extent of reality. Actually, what we (usually) can’t see, hear, or touch is more real than what we can. Imagine time-traveling back to the Dark Ages, and trying to convince people that things like radiation, magnetism, molecules, atoms, pulsars, quasars, etc., exist. At that time, they didn’t have tools sophisticated enough to detect such things. Likewise, we don’t presently have the tools to prove the existence of such things as love, souls, spirits, God, or other celestial beings. It takes divine access to perceive what happens in the secret places (Numbers 22:22-34; 2 Kings 6:14-17), because our “reality” was created from dimensions we can’t perceive, by a God we can’t see or touch. Yet our faith in Him has substance in those Hidden Realms (Hebrews 11:1, 3).

In public school, while teaching about Greco-Roman mythology, a teacher of mine once claimed that many of the myths sound familiar because the Bible plagiarized from them.

Uh, no.

The oldest book in the Bible is believed to be Job; and Moses wrote the Torah (or Pentateuch) a few centuries later. No doubt some pagan myths precede those times, but God’s history was passed down orally (and perhaps via other media, before the Flood) from the very dawn of the human race until the Holy Spirit inspired men to begin writing it down. Any accusation that the Bible “borrows” myths from the pagans is bogus.

It is tempting to dismiss mythology as the work of wild imaginations in superstitious ancient cultures–and that is what most of us do. But if you don’t deny the supernatural episodes in the Bible, a lot of anecdotes from mythology bear uncanny similarities. The narratives have been tweaked, obviously, and often in a way to flip the roles of who is “good” and who is “evil.” What if some of the myths, shared by the Babylonians; Assyrians; Persians; Greeks; Romans; Teutons and others are really just revisionist history of events which actually happened, corrupted and (in large part) rendered silly by embellishments over the millennia? The Bible acknowledges the existence of other “gods” in forbidding the worship of them, though it goes into very little detail identifying them for the most part. Jude 6 and 2 Peter 2:4 mention angels who sinned, left their “first estate” (KJV), “proper dwelling” (ESV), or “abandoned their posts” (as Rachivel puts it) who were chained and imprisoned in Hell as a result. What sin did they commit to deserve such a judgment? Possibly the corruption of the human genome alluded to in Genesis 6; and/or presenting themselves as gods to the human race, and leading people to worship creatures (namely themselves) rather than the Creator.

Does this not sound a lot like what the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet will compel humanity to do, yet future? In the same book of Revelation warning us about that Unholy Trinity, note that the fourth horseman, on the pale horse, is identified as Death (Revelation 6:8). Could this not be the “angel of death” unleashed on Egypt during the first Passover (and/or the pagan god of death, called Thanatos by the Greeks, Mors by the Romans, Anubis by the Egyptians, etc.)? Even more intriguing is the rider who follows, identified as Hades. “Hades” was the Greek name for the god of the underworld—called “Pluto” by the Romans. Both Death and Hades run roughshod over the Earth before being thrown in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14). And considering this identification of at least one pagan god, does the second horseman (Revelation 6:4) not sound like a dead ringer for the god of war, called Mars by the Romans, Ares, by the Greeks, Baal and Nergal by older civilizations? There are more connections to be made, but these are a couple reasons I don’t assume that the ancient pagan myths are strictly the product of primitive man’s overactive imagination.

In short, we should challenge our assumptions. We should at least determine whether our beliefs originate in the Word of God, or in some other source.

[1]        The Nephilim are first mentioned in Genesis 6. The context implies that they were a hybrid offspring of heavenly beings and “the daughters of men.” The word “Nephilim” is often translated “fallen ones.” In the Septuagint, the Greek word is Gigantes, which means “Earth-Born.” It was historically translated as “giants.” (The hybrid beings in question did happen to be gigantic; but that wasn’t the meaning of the word.)

This is how the passage was understood in the days of Jesus, right up until somebody decided that the Creator of the universe needed their help revising His account for believability.

Centuries ago, church officials decided Genesis 6 meant only that the male descendants of Seth mated with the female descendants of Cain, and that is the default interpretation in most churches to this day. In other words: what the Bible actually says has been explained away, and replaced with assumptions unsupported by anything else in Scripture.

The Hebrew term translated “sons of God” used in this passage always refers to celestial beings in the Tanach (Old Testament). Furthermore, the phrase “daughters of men” is literally “daughters of Adam;” so to believe this “godly line of Seth” revisionism is to assume that Cain was the son of Adam, but Seth was not.

 

[2]        “Churchianity” is a fitting name for the pseudo-Christianity so widespread today. Jesus, Paul the Apostle, and others warned us about a great apostasy, and it would appear to be upon us now. Gradually, the Church that Jesus commissioned has been subverted. Instead of transforming the world around it, this church has conformed to the world.

Churchians come in different flavors. For instance: some teach a “prosperity gospel” while others teach that money (not the love of money) is the root of all evil. Some make an idol out of one particular flawed translation of the Bible, while others reject the Bible altogether. Some deny the supernatural and explain away biblical references to it, while others are so desperate to experience the supernatural that they fake spiritual gifts. There is a pacifist gospel; a “social justice” gospel; a feminist gospel (which probably every American church has adopted to one degree or another); a homosexual-friendly gospel; and even an atheist gospel. Whatever snare or deception will work best on you, there’s a chapter of Churchianity that caters to it–and the Adversary will use whichever one will best steer you onto that wide, popular path Jesus warned about.

 

[3]              The word angel means “messenger,” but, in our lexicon, has come to refer exclusively to created celestial beings. Certainly the word often refers to those; but sometimes a human being can be an “angel,” and sometimes the Messiah Himself plays the role of a messenger, or “angel.”

[4]              That is, the “Tetragrammaton.” This has been pronounced “Yaweh” or “Jehovah,” historically, though exact pronunciation is not certain because there were no vowels in the original Hebrew. It’s like an acronym formed from the Hebrew phrase the Creator used to answer Moses: “I am that I am.” I chose to limit the number of names used for Him, to avoid confusion. I’ve also substituted “El Elyon” or “Hashem” for the Tetragrammaton when using biblical quotes herein, purposefully, due partly to the uncertain pronunciation.

[5]        Psalm 82:1 “God has taken his place in the Divine Council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment.” Deuteronomy 32:8-9 “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided up humankind, he set the boundaries of the peoples, according to the number of the Heavenly Assembly.” Job 1:6 and 1 Kings 22 also give us a fleeting glimpse of this Heavenly Assembly.

 

Generational Archetypes – the Hero/Barn-Raiser

Last post, I gave my intro to this series on generational theory. It had some disclaimers in it. Here are some more:

The names of the Archetypes were assigned by Strauss and Howe. The accuracy of each name is debatable.

And the people who categorize stuff these days don’t do it according to Judeo-Christian principles, or even so-called “common” sense. I don’t know a lot about Tarot Cards, but I do know the “death” card doesn’t literally mean death as we think of it (old James Bond movies notwithstanding). Same with most of these archetype labels–There are a few legitimate heroes in the “hero” generations, but the generations so designated aren’t necessarily any more heroic than most other generations, by any objective standards. Language is not precise, anymore–for instance: maybe you’ve noticed that most people, regardless of their own political affiliation, insist on calling tyrannical control freaks “liberal.” It’s part of the Newspeak that George Orwell warned us about. Language has been corrupted to either twist meaning, randomize meaning, or lose meaning altogether–and the people who we get information from today have all invested in this dumbed-down, insidious lexicon. I might come up with my own labels for Strauss/Howe’s archetypes and the “turnings” before this is all over. A better name for this archetype might be “builder,” “barn-raiser,” or “rebuilder.”

Try not to think of the archetypes and their descriptions through an ideological lens.

Ideology certainly plays a part in the development of generations, and I’ll try to highlight those nuances as I go, but don’t fall into the trap of ascribing one ideology to an entire generation, or archetype. Ideology is not uniform in any generation, even when a particular worldview comes to dominate. So the general attitudes and characteristics attributed to a generation cross political lines.

Okay…one more disclaimer before I move on: there are exceptions to the attributes of a given generation.

Just like Noah’s generation was exceedingly wicked, but Noah himself was not. Same deal with Abraham, and many others we could name. Many on the Internet today speak of entire generations as if they are monolithic, and every single person born between Year X and Year Y share the exact same characteristics, and are all equally guilty of what the majority did. That’s not what I intend to do, but I’m not going to interject a statement about exceptions every three sentences, either. I’ll be speaking in general terms.

The first archetype I’ll examine is the so-called “hero” archetype. Strauss and Howe probably chose that label because the generations so-categorized come through an existential crisis during their “young adult” phase of life (age 20-40, according to the Strauss/Howe measurement), and rebuild society afterwards.

They have a reputation as “good” kids during their childhood, with very protective parents. They are endowed with recent cutting-edge technology (childhood to young adulthood), affluence (during midlife), and a strong sense of community. Their coming-of-age period is an empowering experience. During their young adulthood, they build–quite often they rebuild society by building new institutions, but they also build more specific things like houses, businesses, and fortunes, which will be utilized by the next two generations. They indulge their own children, and relax disciplinary standards. In “midlife” they transition from energetic to hubristic. As elders, their leadership style is collegial and expansive. They are rewarded and considered powerful as elders. They have a reputation as selfless, rational, and competent, but also (usually considered by their children’s generation) as unreflective, conformist, and overbold.

Hero generations are born after a spiritual awakening, during a time of individual pragmatism, self-reliance, laissez faire, and national (or sectional or ethnic) chauvinism. Heroes grow up as increasingly protected post-awakening children, come of age as the heroic young team-workers of a historical crisis, demonstrate hubris as energetic midlifers, and emerge as powerful elders attacked by another awakening. By virtue of this location in history, such generations tend to be remembered for their collective coming-of-age triumphs and their hubristic elder achievements. Their principle endowments are often in the domain of community, affluence, and technology. Their best-known historical leaders include Cotton Mather, “King” Carter, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. These have been vigorous and rational institution builders. In midlife, all have been aggressive advocates of economic prosperity and public optimism, and all have maintained a reputation for civic energy and competence to the very ends of their lives. (Examples among today’s living generations: G.I.s and Millennials.)

Lifecourse Associates

When I use the phrase “existential crisis” when discussing generational theory, I mean a crisis that threatens the  existing order. In the work of Strauss and Howe, that existing order was specifically American, and reset during/after each existential crisis (they called it a “secular crisis”). During and after the War of Independence, the existing order of British colonies was replaced by a constitutional republic. The next existential crisis was the US Civil War and Reconstruction: slavery was abolished  and the Union preserved, but at the cost of losing states’ rights. The last existential crisis was the Great Depression and WWII. America emerged as a superpower and an industrial giant, but an encroaching socialism imposed by an ever more powerful central government, and consolidation of power by the foreign bankers who control the central bank, guaranteed that our unprecedented prosperity wouldn’t last. It also firmly entrenched a shadow government to really call the shots, ensuring it would gradually eat away the freedoms that were supposedly being preserved during the crisis.

Expanding our historical frame: the Flood, Babel, the splitting of the Kingdom of Israel, and the fall of both Israel and Judah look like existential crises.

The most recent “Hero” generation in America is the so-called “Greatest Generation” AKA “the GI Generation.” Their parents and/or older brothers were the “Lost Generation” who fought the First World War and went off the rails during the Roaring ’20s. The GIs were endowed with recent technology like the telephone, the automobile, the airplane, the phonograph, the radio, “talkies,” color film, and new technology like television and jet travel. They were hit hard during the Depression, but being optimistic and community-minded rather than individualistic, they pulled together to both build new institutions and defeat the Axis powers. They spoiled their children rotten, only to have their children reject their ostensible values, and despise them. The phrase “generation gap” was coined while the children of the GIs were coming of age and, in fact, the relationship between parents and children has never been as distant as it was between the GIs and the Baby Boomers. The GIs have been dying off and are just about all gone, now.

Here’s a concept I might challenge you with repeatedly: Generations aren’t just shaped by technology; technology is also shaped by the generations. That might take a blog post of its own to build a case for, so I won’t try to sell you the whole concept right now. Just keep it in mind.

Even linear historians have documented the fission of the nuclear family (and assumed it was driven by technology). So lets begin with an historical tidbit you may have heard or read about before: During the first half of the 20th century (and probably up into the 1970s, for most Americans), families ate breakfast and supper at the same time, together around the same table, sharing the food that was prepared in the family kitchen by the wife/biological mother. They gave thanks for the food before eating it, and the only entertainment at the table was the conversation of those seated.

Does that sound even remotely like your experience dining today? If it does, then you live the exception–not the rule. Families don’t eat the same food, don’t eat at the same time, and often don’t even eat under the same roof. Mom eats while watching TV or glued to Facebook while her kid(s) are in their room on their smartphone texting and browsing Instagram. If the father of the children is under the same roof, he is probably working, or playing on his laptop in a different room.

Technology has changed between then and now, but technology didn’t force the changes. Neither television, the Internet, nor smartphones are physically capable of preventing a family from enjoying a meal together at the same table. All that separation between family members happened because of choices–not technology. Long-term choices like who a parent works for can determine when and where they will eat. A short term choice that gossiping on social media is more important than family time have rendered dining room tables obsolete.

Our last Hero/Barn-Raiser generation (the GIs) were very community-minded. The generation before them (the Lost Generation) were markedly individualistic. Let’s track some technology and how it interconnected with life.

When the Lost Generation were children, middle class families usually had a piano in their house. Periodically, they would order sheet music from a catalog. Then, on Saturdays (when Dad and the oldest brothers were off work) and/or Sundays (after Church) the family would gather around the piano. One person would play and the rest would sing. That was family entertainment. When those kids were young adults, they had a newfangled contraption called the phonograph. Families no longer needed someone who could read music and play a piano. In fact, families no longer needed to gather around. Later on, when those boys returned from WWI, they didn’t even need to stay home with their families to hear music. There were phonographs in juke joints and speakeasies where they could travel by automobile to get drunk, without encountering a single familiar face. They could dance (or possibly even have sex) with complete strangers they might never see again. These social gatherings were markedly different than what the next generation would develop. The radio became a hot new technological commodity, and the first DJs (“disk jockeys”) could use a single phonograph to transmit music to millions of different radios where people could listen individually or in small groups.

Then along came the GI Generation. When they were kids, they chose to sit around the living room and listen to the radio with mom and dad. High school dances became popular as they were coming of age. So they were entertained with their families together at home, and with hundreds of peers out at social functions. By the time their younger siblings and/or children made it to high school, community dances were still all the rage. They had developed formalized dances such as “the Stroll” that could not be successfully performed by just one couple, but required dozens of participants.

What about the music itself? The individualistic artists of the Lost Generation made the ’20s roar with jazz (the period is often called “the jazz age”). The focus was on talented singers, pianists, or trumpet players. Those individuals were typically backed up by three or four other musicians, including a drummer and bassist. Jazz was considered scandalous at the time–riffs, rhythms, and even lyrics suggested promiscuity, drugs, alcohol and other themes that were considered reckless, selfish, immoral and antisocial. And that was just the fast-paced jazz. Listen to the slower tempo jazz and you’ll probably find it nihilistic and depressing. But as the GIs took over, jazz evolved. The small combos gave way to big bands–sometimes dozens of musicians all cooperating to produce slick, feel-good tunes. The emphasis changed from improvisation to more structured performances–most of the big bands wrote sheet music, and played from sheet music (for huge crowds to dance to). They modified jazz into swing–a rowdy, frenetic, and optimistic sound that kept America’s chin up through our country’s worst depression and bloodiest war, when most people believed the Axis powers might very well conquer the whole world if Uncle Sam didn’t stop it.

Overlapping this progression was another technological breakthrough. Motion pictures were invented when the Lost Generation were children. As they were coming of age, to see a movie, they would drop a nickle in a device called a “Nickelodian” and watch the film individually. Fast forward to when the GIs were coming of age, and Americans preferred to gather in large crowds at movie theaters and watch longer films (usually two features, plus cartoons, comedy shorts, and news reels) with a huge cross-section of their community. The older GIs entered young adulthood just in time to hear about a newfangled invention called “television.” But even decades after its invention, after the GIs had returned from beating Hitler and transitioned into their post-crisis peace and prosperity, they still preferred watching audio-visual entertainment in big social gatherings at the theater–a community experience. It took longer than seemed logical for TV to displace films.

What about the entertainers in the movies? During the heyday of the Lost Generation, comedies were dominated by singular stars like Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, or Fatty Arbuckle. But as the young GIs developed the attention span to sit through films, ensemble comics like the Keystone Kops and Our Gang grew in popularity. When the GIs entered young adulthood, the Little Rascals, Dead End Kids and (later) Bowery Boys were big box office draws. The Lost Generation’s signature musical was The Jazz Singer (singular). For the GIs, it was the glitzy Gold Diggers (plural) extravagandas. War dramas? Compare the hopeless, nihilistic All Quiet on the Western Front, about a single soldier, to any of hundreds of WWII movies with ensemble casts about military units coming together as a team to go out and “save the world for democracy.”

The next Hero/Barn-Raiser generation is here, already, and most have already entered young adulthood. They’ve been called “Generation Y.” I sometimes think of them as “the Snowflake Generation.” Most have settled on “the Millennials.”

Even though half or more of the combat troops who occupied Iraq and Afghanistan were Millennials, it’s very difficult at this point for me to classify them as the same archetype as the GIs–much less consider them a “hero” generation. From what I see, the poster child for the Snowflake Generation is a whining, entitled brat absolutely convinced of their own superiority because they have smart phones and social media. They have no concept of consequences. They’ve been constantly told how special they are. They’ve won trophies for coming in 4th, 9th, or Last Place all their lives. They have no clue how to change a tire; give somebody a jump start; write a complete sentence; punctuate; read anything longer than a Twitter post; or think for themselves. They’ve never had to do anything for themselves because somebody or some device has always done it for them. One could argue that the US Armed Forces becoming a joke is either a cause or an effect of how the Millennials in uniform have been coddled; but neither the plummeting standards nor the pathetic quality of the personnel can be denied.

But they haven’t run their course yet. And there are some similarities between the Snowflakes and the GIs.

Despite our hyper-sexualized culture, and being exposed as children to what even a lot of adults shouldn’t be, many of the Millennials have a surprising innocence about them.

Are they “good” kids? That depends on your standard for “good,” perhaps. Overall, they don’t seem to be nearly as violent as the two generations before them. They’re definitely not as competitive. The Snowflakes don’t take risks like young people used to. They’re extremely conformist. Maybe those traits parallel the GIs more than I know.

Like the GIs, they are very cooperative and community-minded. It manifests differently, for sure: instead of gathering with their peers in person in big social gatherings, they prefer to do it through technology. Many of the Snowflakes will, no joke, call 911 if their parents revoke their smart phone privileges. That’s how addicted they are to those devices. But only the mavericks among them want the device to play video games (the games they play, BTW, are, big surprise: online multiplayer). It’s social media that most of them just can’t live without.

A more frightening parallel is how the majority of them lean politically.

The GIs reacted to the existential crisis of their time exactly how the architects of the Great Depression wanted them to: by voting for socialism. They elected FDR four times and bought the New Deal hook, line, and sinker. Granted: nearly every president since FDR has also strangled the free market and eroded our freedoms while turning us further away from our Christian foundation. But FDR and the Fabian Socialists who rode that crisis into power did more pound-for-pound damage than any other Administration or Congress before or since. There have been fewer checks against centralized power, since the New Deal, for other politicians to deal with. FDR had a lot more safeguards he had to tear down, a lot less bovine electorate to swindle, and a frog that wasn’t nearly so close to boiled.

This post is not the place to pontificate about brainwashing, delayed consequences, and mitigating factors. Just note that the Snowflakes recognize that the USA is not the land of opportunity it was for their parents and grandparents (thanks to socialism, BTW), and they believe the solution to our decline is even more socialism. Not socialism sold as “liberalism” as with Obama, but the blatant Bernie Sanders flavor.

These “Hero” generations apparently favor collectivist “strong man” central planners. It depends on how far down the slippery slope the culture is and how misinformed they are, whether they will choose an FDR, a Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Guevara, Mao, or a coming world leader the prophets called by many names.

Generations and Historical Patterns

The Creator God is a god of patterns.

There are some sayings about history I can’t attribute, and can’t quote verbatim, but here are my paraphrases:

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

“History teaches us that people don’t learn from history.”

And here’s one I really like:

“History may not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme.”

The Bible is full of such rhymes.

Many Bible prophecies have multiple fulfillments. One obvious example is the “abomination of desolation” warned of by Daniel (Daniel 9:27; 12:11). It was fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphenes, and a matter of historical record before Jesus was born. Yet Jesus, when giving His “Olivet discourse,” warned that it would have another fulfillment in the end times (Matthew 24:15).

Abraham, worried that he might be killed by men who wanted his wife, told Abimelek that Sarah was his sister. (Genesis 20:1-13)

After the death of Abraham, his son Isaac moved into that same jurisdiction of Abimelek…and used the same exact deception about his own wife, Rebekah (that she was his sister, and not his wife Genesis 26:7-10).

The whole episode of the homosexual siege of Lot’s house in Genesis 19 is echoed in Judges 19:14-25.

Gideon’s son committed fratricide against his brothers in a scheme to become king (Judges 9). David’s son, Absalom, who also wanted to be king, committed fratricide as well. The scenario was so familiar to people at the time that they initially reported that Absalom had killed ALL his brothers, as Abimelek had done generations before.

There are other patterns that jump out, too: the rapture of Enoch and Elijah; the genocide against Hebrew children around the birth of both Moses and Jesus; the ministries of Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist. For the most glaring pattern in the Bible, read through the historical books of the Old Testament and track how many times you come across the phrase: “And again the Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord.”

The Biblical canon closed long ago, but the same human race, with the same sinful nature, still lives on the same Earth, created by the same God. And even through the fog and bias of secular/humanistic documentation, discernible patterns are still there to be found.

I only recently discovered the “generational theory of history” developed by Neil Howe and William Strauss. These are two secular historians with a different worldview from mine, who disagree with me about economics, spiritual matters, and probably many other subjects; yet I find their theory revolutionary. It’s had a major impact on me in a very short amount of time.

As I said, I believe Strauss and Howe are wrong about a lot. Those building on their work get stuff wrong, too. For instance, on the page I linked above, the writer purports that the signing of the Declaration of Independence launched the American Revolution. (The Revolution began over a year before that, when British authorities attempted to disarm an American militia.) However, the theory and its implications may prove very helpful, inasmuch as it dovetails with Biblical truths.

Some of my college professors tried, and failed, to convince me of the validity of the ancient, cyclical view of history. Strauss and Howe did more in an afternoon of reading than my professors could do during all my undergraduate years to cause me to rethink my linear view of history.

We recognize that every year has four seasons (except for some places like Ohio and Florida). Spring gives way to summer, which transitions to autumn, which turns into winter, before giving way to another spring. In much the same way, history plays out in a pattern of four seasons, eras, or “turnings,” which last approximately 20 years. There are four such eras every saeculum, which lasts roughly 80-90 years. Then the cycle repeats. This pattern is not dictated by our calendar or any arbitrary metric, but by the life-cycles of the generations who pass the baton through the saeculi.

The era we are passing through now has many parallel characteristics with the one that occurred four turnings ago. The generation in mid-life now is a reflection of the generation in mid-life at this point in every saeculum. The generation in young adulthood now resembles past generations in young adulthood at this era, stage, or turning, in the cycle. To an extent, we can make predictions about the future based on the patterns we see in the past.

Keep in mind: neither Strauss, Howe, nor those who build upon their research, are prophets. They have merely decoded a historical pattern and made it possible to extrapolate more accurately. Just as ungodly people know that summers will be hot, winters will be cold, and that spring and fall will transition between those seasons, Biblical familiarity is not required to know that America will move from it’s present unraveling into a stage of crisis. The cycle of High Point; Awakening; Unraveling; Crisis has repeated itself so many times in history, it is as predictable as spring; summer; autumn; winter. But it has its limitations.

A prophet can warn in advance that there will be an “Indian summer” in November, a freakish snow flurry in June, or a hail storm and flash flood on April 13 at 3: 46 p.m. in Butte, Montana. Non-prophets can’t give accurate warnings about such flukes, but they can accurately warn you that the leaves will turn brown in autumn and fall off the trees, and flowers will bloom in the spring. By the same token, a prophet could have warned people in advance about the Great Depression and World War Two, in detail. A non-prophet could not do that. But, if aware of the generational cycle, they could have accurately predicted that there would be a great crisis during that era. After all, our Creator has integrated patterns into everything, including humanity in its generations–which is both the cause and effect of history.

As a Christian, we can read the books of the prophets for specific details, and we can use generational theory to place them in context. Jesus warned us that nobody besides the Father knows the day or the hour of our Lord’s return; but as Dr. David Reagan often says, we can know the season.

Another disclaimer: Strauss and Howe developed this theory while studying American history, specifically. The application of it has been limited to America, so far as I know. But it would be unthinkable to me if all of humanity didn’t follow some sort of generational cycle as well. I intend to see if a similar pattern can be clearly defined in the historical books of the Bible. It would only make sense.

In my next several posts, I plan to explore the generational theory and how it meshes (or doesn’t) with the Word. I’ll be blogging as I travel this journey, and fully expect to make some mistakes along the way. Please bear with me.

A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. (Ecclesiastes 1:4)

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

You shall raise up the foundations of many generations. (Isaiah 58:12)

 “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” (Matthew 16:2-3)

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24:32-35)

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4)