At first glance Now We Are 40: Whatever Happened toGeneration X may be dismissed as just about how what Tiffanie Darke (the author) and her famous/ successful mates think about their lives. But to dismiss this book in that way fails to recognise two important factors :1) the irony and 2) the depth this book actually contains within it.
The book covers a range of material from the reasons God is going down on her lifestyle list but is seen as one of the most important brands by June Sparpong to how we should embrace aging and issues around parenting. She also makes some important points about the difficulties and lack of opportunities Millennials face within this book.
Now that might all sound way to serious but the whole thing about this book is it’s written in a way which is fun, as you would expect from a lifestyle writer who was at the centre of the Gen X hedonism. You get nostalgic anecdotes thrown in which take you back and make you think, yup that was the 90’s. Now I’m not pretending that my experience of that time was any where near as exciting as Darke’s but there was something about being part of that generation which made life fun.
Generally I think the conclusions Darke reaches in this book about the way we took our eye of the ball and let the future generations loose many of the opportunities we had are true. However, having recently read Helen Pearson’s The Life Project (a book about the story of cohort studies – again a much more interesting read than that summary suggests) the evidence is that the pulling up of the drawbridge had already started happening by the time we get to our generation. In Pearson’s book data from a study following people born in 1970 were having less opportunity to reach the top than those born in 1958 if they hadn’t had a private education.
The parenting discussion focuses on Gen Z children, but the Danny Goffey (formally of Supergrass now of Vangoffey) and his wife Pearl Lowe had their first children in the 90’s like I did. Whilst many people were putting off having children until later some of us do have Millennials. I’d be interested in hearing what Pearl Lowe has to say about her kids experience now.
Brexit is also addressed in this book and the grief that many of our generation feel about leaving the EU is particularly palpable in her reading.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, totally, especially if you a Gen X’er yourself. I’d also recommend it to people who want to understand Gen X spirituality and faith. Whilst there is the Eat, Pray, Love approach discussed there are also some really interesting nuggets in there for those of us who are interested in hearing from people themselves rather than just listening to what the Church thinks is the case.
Note: the review of this book was what my last post was about. That was written in a hurry and when I was tired and most importantly before I read the book. Having read this book I stand by what I said in that post but want to add some more thoughts. We were the generation who found out it was ok to doubt and explore. God may be on the going down lifestyle list but he's still there being spoken about.
We are, as the current Methodist Connexion magazine (which has grown into something really interesting) says well in a time of transition. X'er Trey Hall sums this up totally when he says it's a time of glorious mess. We have people like Trey, who is the Birmingham District Mission advisor there ready to give us a kick up the backside. We are in a time of chaos and uncharted waters and we need to be careful to make sure that we don't take our eyes off the ball, as Darke warns we have previously.
In the same magazine another X'er Joanne Cox-Darling asks a couple of questions which stem from our generation. "What if we were courageous - and told our own personal stories of transformation and growth?" and "What if we were bold enough to celebrate the most creative ideas offered to us?" In this book Darke is doing exactly that telling stories of transformation and growth together with advocating the same thing as Cox-Darling that we celebrate the creative ideas offered to us. Whilst Darke's doing this generally and Cox-Darling is advocating these things to the church perhaps these messages are the strong ones we need to hear both as and from Gen X.