For our purposes here, “snowflake” or “snowflake generation” are young adults more prone to taking offense and less resilient than previous generations, or too emotionally vulnerable to cope with views that challenge their own.

About a week ago, I saw a post on Facebook from my son regarding Donald Trump’s immigration executive order and was concerned about the volume of vitriol and hatred in the comments. I sent him a private message expressing my concerns and will say that I was so proud of his response to me. He told me that he privately messaged all the offenders and didn’t appreciate the way they acted and that he did not want to see that again. That was the perfect way to handle it, and I am so proud of his action.

The discussion got me to thinking about how so many people today have no background in legitimate debate and only react to everything they hear before they take the time to form cogent arguments. The modus operandi seems to be “You hurt my feelings. Obviously, you are evil and therefore, I am going to shout you down until you shut up! Whatever offensive language or tactic it takes to do it!”

I expressed my thoughts in my message to my son and here are some of the highlights.

“…I am highly concerned that many millennials so quickly resort to highly offensive language, logical fallacies, and overly aggressive behavior. You and I have had many discussions regarding issues, and I hope that you have not seen me resort to attacking people personally for their views. I am only a sinner saved by the amazing grace of God, which I hope directly affects how I behave.

What I see happening in most of these discussions is that people get so worked up before they have taken the time to consider their response thoroughly and they end up trying to shut the opposition down before they even give it any consideration. On all of these issues, there are rational people on every side, and when the issues are discussed on the merits of a person’s argument for or against the policy and not just flying off the handle, they have a much better chance of persuading the other person to their point of view. Dropping f-bombs and insulting a person’s character only builds any wall of division much higher.

As I have tried to teach you over the years, we must deal with logic and emotion in a specific order. Just like a potter who takes a lump of clay and forms it into a vessel for a definitive purpose, the same holds true for how logic and emotion creates a person’s worldview. Think of a person’s worldview as the lump of clay, the potter fashioning it as applying logic to the worldview and emotion as the fire that galvanizes the worldview. After the worldview is formed and proven by logic, then the flames will forge the worldview into something that is permanent.

What I see happening today is that too many people (both on the right and on the left) are too eager to put their worldview on display that they forget to fully form it before the fires of emotions harden it into an ugly monstrosity. That is like a potter ignoring the fashioning process altogether and just tossing the lump of clay into the fire. That benefits no one.

The other consideration is that every person with whom you come in contact has some level of galvanized worldview and when someone opposes them, the person often reacts as if they must protect their worldview at all costs. In this scenario, no one is working toward solutions to the problem, just how they can “feel better” about themselves. So, it ends ups in a war of words, which, once again, benefits no one.

My counsel here is to be the calming voice of reason when the discussion starts. If a person starts using bad language gently ask that they refrain from doing so because that does not demonstrate their views in a favorable light. The goal of any discussion should always be to foster solutions, not just boost our ego.”

I could not be more pleased with his reaction. That does this cold-hearted, right-wing, conspiratorial, conservative nut-job of a father such a world of good.

What's A Little Snowflake To Do?

I recently heard a message from Phil Johnson, Executive Director of Grace to You, where he said, “How about we agree to argue until one of us actually refutes the other?” If you watch these protests and talking head shows, there is no facilitation of any cogent arguments, which is an intellectual process intended to form a proposition, not just “contradiction,” which is the automatic gainsaying of every statement the other person makes. (Yes, that is from “The Argument Clinic” by Monty Python. A perfect illustration that truth is true, no matter where you find it.).

It is no wonder that Millennials are sometimes referred to as the “snowflake generation,” when they wear their emotions on their sleeves. They equate being offended on the same level as being physically attacked. So, my response is similar to Tim Hawkins in his song “Snowflakes.”

“One day one of my children came up to me,
He said, “Daddy, I got a question,” I put him up on my knee.
He said, “Which one of us children, do you love the best?”
I let out a chuckle and held him to my chest,

And I said, “Snowflakes, you're all like snowflakes,
Some are different sizes; some are different shapes.
And some snowflakes love to kick and punch and bite the other kids,
So get back in the closet, little snowflake!”

While I certainly am not suggesting that any of you Millennials “Get back in the closet,” I am suggesting that for your credibility, stop flying off the handle, kicking, punching, and biting those who disagree with you every time your fragile little feelings get hurt. Not everyone who disagrees with you wants you just to shut up. We want to hear your disagreements in a civil and respectful manner. Then, maybe, one of us can convince the other one that our proposition is the correct and valid argument. Even if we don't, we can still respect each other as a fellow human being.

 

Challies-TitleGraphic-ReadingClassicsTogether_v17abcI would pay good money to watch a debate between John Owen and Joel Osteen. Wouldn’t you? I have read John Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Temptation many times now, and have benefited with every reading. It just never gets old and it just never stops sounding so counter-cultural, countering both the wider culture and even the going Christian culture.

This week I read a chapter that teaches the value of self-examination and self-abasement. I was immediately struck by the difference between the heart of Owen’s understanding of the Christian life and what passes for Christian living today. I don’t mean to pick on an easy target, but it makes a fascinating contrast to compare Owen’s books with, say, Joel Osteen’s. I am not exaggerating when I say that they really are polar opposites in just about every way. Though both pass as Christian books, they could hardly be more different.

Where Joel Osteen writes about how we are to accept the unfortunate reality that we have made mistakes, his solution is that we should just press on and determine that we will not do bad things again. Owen, though, calls our mistakes “sin” and assures us that this sin has eternally distanced us from God. He allows sin no quarter and would never stoop to calling it a mere mistake. Where Osteen teaches that we are fundamentally good and that we should think highly of ourselves, Owen teaches that we are fundamentally sinners and need to fill our minds with self-abasement and thoughts of our own vileness.

Yet these low thoughts of ourselves have an important purpose and an important qualification. We are not to think low thoughts about ourselves in isolation. Instead, such thoughts are to be the natural consequence of pondering the majesty and the “otherness” of God. Do you want to see yourself accurately? Then see God accurately first. As we ponder God we are led to see the inconceivable distance between him and us. Once we see that distance, all we can really do is accept and ponder his greatness and our comparable vileness. I am sure there are those who read this and quickly picture dour Puritans who enjoy thinking of how awful they are, as if beating up on themselves is a form of holiness. But this is not what Owen says at all. Instead he teaches that proper thoughts of God and of humanity are of critical importance because only through abasement of ourselves before God can we experience humility of spirit. It is like a balance. As our thoughts of God increase, our view of ourselves naturally decreases accordingly. As that view of ourselves decreases, our love for God swells.

Osteen and so many of today’s other popular authors could never arrive at such conclusions because there is too little difference between their view of humanity and their view of God. In their way of thinking, we are not so far removed from him. They think of God too seldom and themselves too much; with every great thought of themselves, they lower God.

Here are a few of Owen’s best quotes from this chapter:

  • “Our further progress consists more in knowing what he is not, than what he is.”
  • “The intention of all gospel revelation is not to unveil God’s essential glory that we should see him as he is, but merely to declare so much of him as he knows sufficient to be a [foundation] of our faith, love, obedience, and coming to him—that is, of the faith which here he expects from us; such services as beseem poor creatures in the midst of temptations.”
  • “Know that your very nature is too narrow to bear apprehensions suitable to his glory.”

Next Time

For those reading Overcoming Sin and Temptation with me, well, I know that I took some liberties this week by looking beyond the one chapter. I couldn’t help myself! Next Thursday we will continue with the thirteenth chapter of the book—we are nearing the end! You can still get the book and read along if that is of interest to you.

Your Turn

I would like to know what you gained from this chapter. Feel free to post comments below or to write about this on your own blog (and then post a comment linking us to your thoughts). Do not feel that you need to say anything shocking or profound. Just share what stirred your heart or what gave you pause or what confused you. Let’s make sure we’re reading this book together.