A woman on the radio said that over half of American children now grow up without a father in the home. An increasing number are raised by people who are not in their family (daycare workers, teachers, etc), who do not have their longterm interests held close to their hearts. Many families have only one child, thus raised without the interaction of siblings. We relocate often, leave the hometown, and move away from family, so the children do not grow up with cousins either. A hundred years ago, divorce was relatively uncommon, families were large, and both parents–and often grandparents–were in the home, or living nearby. A hundred years ago, 48% of American families lived on farms. Today 16% live in rural areas, and 84% are urban dwellers. Today many children learn about nature and the environment only through television and computer games–without direct experience.
It didn’t feel necessary to me to check the numbers, as these statements seem consistent enough with what is easily observable.
I am not judging whether they are good or bad changes, or whether they bode ill or well for us. But I think it is important to note that these things have happened, and that there is no going back. They are profound changes. So how will it impact our society? Our mental health? The ways we learn and educate, relate to one another, care for the environment–and the ways we evangelize and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to others? There is no blueprint to follow, no proven path as we negotiate this new reality. What will our country, our neighborhood, be like? We are standing once more on the frontier of a whole new world. Like explorers and pioneers in times past, we need to think creatively and flexibly. Thinking outside of the box is called for, as the old box is no longer there. Now more than ever, we need to have trust in God’s plan.