I figure nearly 100% of my readers went to high school, and 99% went to different schools than me. But the experience of most of high schools has enough commonality for my readers to understand what I am about to say.
If you walked into the lunch room at my old school back in about 1984, you would find kids gathered in groups we called “cliques”. Nerds, jocks, band-fags, preppies, skaters, and North-Gaters. Yeah, we had a gate in the fence along the North side of the complex (out back) where “stoners” and “rejects” hung out, and so we called them “North-Gaters”. My observation here is not so different from your school whether in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s, and I seriously doubt much has changed in that regard to this day.
When I was there, the movie The Breakfast Club came out and seemed to expose and examine the phenom in some meaningful way. Perhaps you will recall Anthony Michael Hall’s character making the observation that: “…each one of us is a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal…” However, what the movie did was mix these people up in a situation where they shared their thoughts and feelings in vulnerability with each other. In reality, that rarely, if ever, happened.
No. That is why we called them “cliques”; the term depicted the separated groupings as opposed to their blending. My goodness, just a few years after I was gone from high school, we heard of an infamous group of disaffected youths known as the “trench coat mafia” with Eric and Dylan as their supposed representatives.
Since my church experience has turned out so bad recently, my family has taken to that other phenom we call “church shopping”. As if church were a consumer product we might wish to purchase. We spend our Sundays visiting different churches looking for one where we “feel comfortable” and hopefully “fit in”. And this is the language we use, though there is nothing remotely biblical about it, AND I strongly suspect is a betrayal of the church’s purpose and meaning.
But the first thing that I notice in this “shopping” experience is the cliquishness of the churches. They are not all gathered in a school lunch room where it is readily noticeable, but if you take in the big picture, that is what we have going on all over town. Over here we have Cowboy Church, Biker Church, Homeless Church, and Gay Church. Over there, we have Black Church, Chinese Church, Indian Church, White Church, Trucker Church, Traditional Church, Trendy Church, and the new one – for me anyway – Hipster Church where all the men (as well as the women) seem to have gotten the fashionista memo to wear their button down shirts too tight and their skinny jeans too short. These folk make up the segment of society we might call “young professionals”.
The experience reminded me of night clubs I visited when I was a 20-something. The Sanctuary was dark, with a stage down front featuring a full-blown rock band under spot lights jamming as loud as a concert. In the lobby, they had a full-service coffee bar with espressos, lattes, and cappuccinos. The whole interior design and décor was sleek and posh, and the sermon kept addressing our career goals and climbing our corporate ladders. The only thing missing was the bouncer with his velvet rope letting in only the cool people and keeping out all the undesirables.
Isn’t this pretty much the nightmare St. Paul addresses at Corinth? What is the demon that drives us to our little enclaves and cliques rather than toward each other blending our various parts into one body? I must say, there really weren’t many old people there. I did not see any poor and homeless there. And I kinda felt like I was shopping at the mall in some upscale Jesus boutique getting my cross monogrammed in gold-leaf on a Burgundy leather cover. Perhaps my wife and daughter could get shoes to match!
Something is deeply wrong with this picture. But no one seems to notice, and I find no one talking about it.
Maybe Mr. Vernon should put us all in detention together one Saturday where we can smoke dope and really get to know each other better.
Probably not, but that would seem to be an improvement!