The Seven Sorrowful Mysteries of Stuff

David B. Couturier, OFM Cap.
David B. Couturier, OFM Cap.

Young Adults, Consumerism and the Uncluttered Soul: The Seven Sorrowful Mysteries of Stuff

By: David B. Couturier, OFM. Cap.

Introduction

This article is about stuff and young adults.  First, it’s about stuff - what we buy and sell, what we collect and store, what we pitch and toss away. It’s about what piles up in our closets, what pokes out from under our beds and hides in our basements, what gets stored in our garages and what gets buried and made invisible in our landfills. Something is changing dramatically in our relationship to stuff and in our image of ourselves because of the stuff we use and throw away. Our obsession with stuff makes it easy to treat people like stuff and to traffic people like stuff.  So, I want to talk theologically about stuff.

This article is also about young adults and how stuff affects them. I am referring to the so-called Mosaic generation, between the ages of 18 and 29. They are an amazing but largely unrecognized group of adults who are not only different from the generations that preceded them but are, as one author noted, “discontinuously different.”  This is the generation that is developing dramatically new attitudes and different practices in almost every area of life, including religion.

Mosaics are the first generation to live with the volume and velocity of unprecedented technological, social, cultural, religious, economic and psychological change.  They are not like Boomers and even Gen X’ers who are always catching up to change. This is the generation that has seismic change in its DNA. Because of this, they have perspectives, attitudes and concerns that are distinct to them.

And for that reason, they have a discreet attitude towards social justice that is often underappreciated. It is my thesis that they are developing a prophetic imagination with filters that allow them to see what is happening in politics and what is affecting our relationships to one another and to the planet in a powerfully new way. But, their prophetic imagination is not impacting the Church as fully as it could and should. And that is the case for several reasons.

To begin with, this is the first generation of young people that is decidedly “unreligious.”...

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