Weekly Review

Gen Z’s religious doubts, Enneagrams, surrogacy, and the world’s biggest family tree


Warren Cole Smith

Gen Z’s Good News. Jonathan Morrow is a friend of mine and of The Colson Center who has written a provocative article for the Fox News web-site. His article is “Why Generation Z is Less Christian Than Ever And Why That’s Good News.” He writes, “Gen Z—the generation following the millennials—is the least Christian generation to date, according to a new Barna study – 34 percent of Gen Z’s religious affiliation is either atheist, agnostic or none. In fact, teens 13-18 years old are twice as likely as adults to say they are atheist. And just three in five 13- to 18-year-olds say they are some kind of Christian (59 percent).” So why is this “good news”? Because these trends have been true for a while, and we are now finally seeing it. It is an opportunity for us to re-examine what it means to pass on our faith to the next generation. As Morrow concludes: “We have the opportunity to reimagine what passing on our faith to the next generation looks like in this unique cultural moment. But first, we must stop pretending.” All parents, grandparents, pastors, and youth leaders should read this important article.

Enneagram. I need to admit that I am a fan of personality tests. I’ve taken “Strength Finder,” and so have all my children. I have taken the Myers-Briggs test several times. (I’m an INTJ, by the way.) So my ears perked up when I started hearing the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a nine-point personality inventory many evangelical churches are embracing. Its philosophical underpinnings come from Christianity, but also from Buddhism and ancient Greek philosophy. I am still reserving judgment on whether the Enneagram is a useful tool or heresy masquerading as self-help. If you are on a similar journey, this recent short article from WORLD might help. For a much more thorough (and much more critical) view of Enneagrams, I recommend the Christian Research Institute’s paper on the topic, which highlights the Enneagram’s history and Gnostic roots.

Wombs for Hire. The state of Washington has legalized commercial surrogacy. Washington’s new law will go into effect on Jan. 1 of next year. It says surrogates must be over 21 years old and have already delivered at least one child. Surrogates must also have medical and mental health evaluations. Surrogates can receive money for up to two surrogacies that result in children. Lots of folk think this new law is a very bad idea. Jennifer Lahl, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, urged a committee of the Washington legislature to ban surrogacy. “Commercial surrogacy is indistinguishable from the buying and selling of babies. What is a surrogate being paid to do? Gestate a baby and hand that baby over in exchange for money.” The European Parliament passed a resolution in 2015 condemning the practice.

A Common Ancestor. Researchers say they have scientifically verified the largest family tree ever. They found a family with 13-million people going back five centuries. And – no surprise – the actor Kevin Bacon is among those in this family tree. Not only is the research interesting on philosophical and sociological grounds, it has also already yielded insights into the “link between genes and longevity and why our ancestors married whom they did,” according to the journal Science. The project is also interesting in its use of crowdsourcing, since it began by mining data from a web-site called Geni.com, a crowd-sourced site where people share their family trees.

Milestones. Evangelical leader and “Jesus Movement” pioneer Lonnie Frisbee died 25 years ago this week. I wrote more about this enigmatic figure, sometimes called the “hippie preacher,” here.


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