Social networking democracy

For those who may not know, India is the largest and most democratic country in the world. Their form of democracy is actually more purely a democracy that ours, which is in the form of a representative-democracy. Perhaps, technology is changing the way our democratic systems will work – nationally something more akin to our State referendum system (direct-democracy) than the way national politics has been conducted in the past.
So, Andrew Sullivan in this past weekend’s edition of the Sunday Times (U.K.) writes an article on social networking websites (Facebook, MySpace, etc.) and their effect on this campaign season and the Obama campaign’s extraordinary leveraging of this medium that Sullivan suggests will change campaigning for here-on-out.
A couple quick quotes:

It’s a new form of politics; it is likely to last beyond the Obama campaign and to change the shape of all campaigns to come. For Obama the new method was also bang on message. His liberalism is not a top-down, managerial variety; it’s more in line with progressive traditions of self-empowerment. A social network was the perfect medium…
Maybe Obama’s model is a little before its time. If not, the online president of social-networking democracy is imminent.

Changing demographics

Here is another article concerning the changing demographics of church attendance and the change in what many people are looking for in their church experience reported in the Christian Post.
Study: Americans Not All Flocking to Bigger, Contemporary Churches
The study was conducted by Ellison Research. Here is Ellison’s overview of the results.’
Thanks, Cori!
A couple quotes from Ellison’s report:

When people switch where they worship, that switch usually includes some change in worship style. Just 35% believe their new place of worship has a worship style that is similar to their last location, while 29% say it has a more contemporary worship style, and 36% moved to a more traditional style of worship.
Among Protestants who switched churches, 31% have noticed a more contemporary worship style, 42% believe it’s more traditional, and just 28% feel it’s about the same as their last church. But even many Catholics feel their new parish has a worship style that differs from their old one – 24% feel it’s more contemporary, 22% feel it’s more traditional, and 54% haven’t noticed any real difference.
Most also go to a place of worship that is a different size than their former one. Just 11% switch to someplace that is about the same size (within 10% plus or minus) of the place they left. But there is no consistent preference for larger or smaller congregations.


Theologically, 53% of adults who have changed where they worship say their new place of worship is about the same as their old one. Twenty-eight percent moved to a place they feel is more theologically conservative, including 12% who say it is much more conservative, while 19% moved to one that is more theologically liberal (including 7% who feel it is much more liberal). Protestants are much more likely to notice a difference theologically between their old church and their new one (52%), while Catholics largely see consistency (just 25% note a theological difference).
When they switch, many people find someplace to worship that is closer to home. Just 32% say their current place of worship is about the same distance from their home as the old one, and 25% are now traveling farther to worship, while 44% report their new place of worship is closer to home (including 22% who say it is much closer to home). The findings are similar for Catholics and Protestants.

Developmental Levels

I was reading an article in the New York Times yesterday morning. I can’t remember the title of the article, but the reporter at one point was writing about college graduates. The reporter made reference to the developmental age/state of young adults. He said that today’s 22 year olds are at the developmental stage of 17 years olds of 1980.
In the 1990’s, when I was still working in higher education and student development, we had a term to describe traditional aged college students (18-21). We referred to them as “PAPAs” – “Post-adolescent-Pre-adults.” We saw then that the maturity level, the responsibility level, and even the ability of students in this age group to make decisions was not all that high, collectively.
I’ve read the outcomes of various studies and reports over the years, so this comparison of 17 year olds from 1980 and 22 year olds from today does not shock me, surprise me – yes, but shock me – no. Too many young people today do not have to take care of or responsibility for themselves during their teen-age years and too many are moving back to their parents’ home after college graduation, where most fall right back into their old pre-college routine. Mom and dad does everything. Of course this is all by degree and of course there are very responsible and mature young adults, but the trend is not in that direction.
One of my favorite stories took place not too long after I started working for Kent State. I was part of the program that brought all new and prostective students to Kent for a day of class scheduling, testing, and orientation. Parents were encouraged to come, too, but we tried to make sure that students had time with academic counselors by themselves (which some irate parents would not stand for). I got a phone call one day from a woman and she asked, “Where are your hook-ups?” (Which, nowadays means something very different than what this mother was referring to back then.) Perplexed, I asked, “Where are our what?” “Your hook-ups. You know, for RV’s,” she said. I thought that she were asking because rather than paying to stay in a hotel, they were going to come to the day long program and stay in a RV. I told her that Kent didn’t have RV hook-ups on campus. She was a bit miffed, because she said that during the first few weeks of orientation and classes that she had to be close by her son so that she could make sure he woke up on time every morning and stuff like that. After a long pause, I said, “I’m sorry we don’t have RV hook-ups, but when your son arrives he really needs to start taking responsibly for himself.”
She wasn’t happy, and I supposed she may have told her son that he wasn’t going to Kent. I wonder whether he did come or whether his mother found a college that would accommodate the smothering of her son. I felt sorry for him, and for all the other students whose parents were determined to run their lives, even from afar.
We do our teens and young people no service when we as parents and educators do not expect them to grow up, take responsibility for themselves, and learn to function independently. Today’s 22 year olds are at the developmental level of the 17 year olds of 1980. Is our culture really advancing these days?
(I’ve been turned down for two college chaplaincy positions over the past three weeks. Maybe my expectations of students – and I’ve done student work for 20 years – is just a little too high, nowadays. Are today’s 17 years olds at a developmental level of the 12 year olds of 1980?)